Martin House’s Cuvee Pumpkin Latte Is The Pumpkin Beer For People That Hate Pumpkin Beers.

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it’s local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we sipped on Martin House‘s Cuvee Pumpkin Latte.
ontap3Fast Facts on Martin House Cuvee Pumpkin Latte.
Style: SHV — Spiced, Herb, Vegetable Beer.
ABV: 5.2 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 6.
Color: Orange-ish gold.
Availability: Limited — seasonal, in cans.

The craft beer scene seems to have summited pumpkin mountain long ago, and I am happy about it now that we’re on the downhill side. I like a pumpkin beer every now and then, but these beers certainly have their (limited) time and place. I used to find myself out hunting around for a certain Houston-based brewery’s imperial pumpkin stout. Now I might buy one if the price is right and I stumble upon it. And that’s still a “might.”

Background on Spiced, Herb, Vegetable Beer.
For a primer on the SHV style, check out our review on Peticolas’ Ghost of Alfred Brown, a ghost pepper infused brown ale. SHV beer — as a BJCP style — is one of those hodge-podge categories. So it’s not exactly worthwhile to judge a beer according to its characteristics of what is and what is not in style. SHV beers start with a base beer that’s fine on its own, and then a spice, herb, vegetable or some combination of the three gets added at some point in the brewing process. According to Martin House, Cuvee Pumpkin Latte has 300 pounds of pumpkin puree added to the mash, lactose (that’s milk sugar) and pumpkin spices to the boil, vanilla added during fermentation and Cuvee coffee just before packaging. Holy cow, that’s a lot of flavor additions going on here. So let’s get to unpacking those!
ontap5 Appearance.
I picked up a four-pack of Cuvee Pumpkin Latte at Spec’s. It’s sort of weird buying a four-pack of 12-ounce cans, but it is what it is, I guess. On the plus side, this means that I’m only sidled with four pumpkin beers. This deep golden ale pours into the glass with a nice amount of foam. This isn’t a clear beer, but it lets plenty of light through it.

The first whiff I get is some vegetal sort of thing — spicy like pepper but bitter like coffee. I bet it’s a mix of aromas from the coffee and spice additions. Just behind this kick is a rounder, subtle coffee, along with something like what you might imagine your house smelling like during the holidays. The pumpkin is there, but I get more of the spice, coffee and vanilla on the nose. Hops are nonexistent, and that’s probably a smart move by Martin House to back way off there to let the other additions shine.

For me, the taste starts off with a bit of sharpness from all of the flavors coming at me. It’s a bit confusing to be drinking a lighter-colored beer containing coffee. But confusing as it is, the taste is enjoyable. There is a bit of sweetness to this beer, but it doesn’t take over the flavor sensations. It’s just there in the background, and it helps round out some of the spice and bitterness from the coffee. Often times, a SHV or fruit beer is made with extracts or other phoned-in ingredients, and it’s noticeable to some people in the end product. But I don’t get that here. The flavors feel authentic. After the swallow, the coffee flavor intensifies and I’m left with some lingering bitterness and the ghost of pumpkin spice. All in all, I’m not grossed out or completely overwhelmed with the pumpkin. Rather, the roundness from the vanilla, the coffee and the spice seems to take over and I sort of forget that this is a pumpkin beer. Wait, is it fair to even call this a pumpkin beer?

Cuvee Pumpkin Latte is a somewhat easy drinker with its 5.2 percent ABV. There is a small amount of residual sugar, and it seems to help smooth out the mouthfeel and provide a little cushion for all of the things going on here. While this beer does hang out in the lower end of the ABV spectrum, it drinks smooth and a bit bigger than its stated ABV. This beer finishes clean, but there’s a ton going on in the aftertaste as mentioned above.

Overall Impression.
For the most part, pumpkin beers have fallen out of favor with drinkers for the moment. However, there are still some very good pumpkin beers available. And don’t let me talk you out of buying pumpkin beer, because a lot of them are great! Cuvee Pumpkin Latte seems to occupy the outer edges of what we can call pumpkin beer. If anything, the coffee wins out in the flavor and aroma departments, so I’d be more inclined to call this something like a fall spiced coffee ale. Yeah, there’s pumpkin in there, but it’s muted. Novelty wins in the end for me, and I am a fan of this beer. I am glad that this beer is sold by the four-pack, though, because that novelty is quickly wearing off.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give Martin House Cuvee Pumpkin Latte a 5.ontap2What’s happening in the area brew scene?
• Friday, October 7. Brew-Haha Comedy Series at Tupps Brewery.
• Friday, October 7. Red River Brewdown at Bitter Sisters Brewery.
• Saturday, October 8. BeerFeast at Flying Saucer Fort Worth.
• Sunday, October 9. Brew and Barbecue Festival at Trader’s Village.
• Wednesday, October 19. Beer, Beards and Beethoven at Wild Acre Brewing.
• Wednesday, October 26. Zombie Dinner at BrainDead Brewing.
• Saturday, October 29. Halloween Candy and Beer Pairing Flight at LUCK.
• Saturday, November 12. Untapped: Dallas at Fair Park.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
Revolver’s Sangre y Miel: 10.
Peticolas’ Royal Scandal: 10.
Community’s Mosaic IPA: 10.
Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer: 10.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
Community’s Legion: 10.
BrainDead’s Fill in the Blancs: 9.5.
Oak Highlands’ Freaky Deaky: 9.5.
Deep Ellum’s Barrel Aged Four Swords: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Lost Epic: 9.5.
Community’s Ascension Porter: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Temptress: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Goatman: 9.5.
Community’s Public Ale: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
On Rotation’s Jalapeno Saison: 9.
Woodcreek’s Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
Lakewood’s Wild Manimal: 9.
Revolver’s Blood & Honey: 9.
Martin House’s Imperial Texan: 9.
Community’s Trinity Tripel: 9.
Peticolas’ Irish Goodbye: 9.
Four Corners’ Block Party Porter: 9.
Cedar Creek’s Belgian Dubbel: 9.
Peticolas’ Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Rock Ryder: 8.5.
Rahr’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
Texas Ale Project 50 Ft. Jackrabbit: 8.
Texas Ale Project’s Payne Pils: 8.
Noble Rey’s Bridesmaid’s Tears: 8.
Collective Brewing’s Urban Funk House: 8.
Lakewood’s On Call: 8.
Oak Highlands’ Golden Mustache: 8.
903 Brewers’ Crackin’ Up: 8.
Deep Ellum’s Play Date: 8.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s 11th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Belgian Tripel: 8.
Noble Rey’s SteamPunk: 8.
903 Brewers’ Citra On Top: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Hissy Fit: 8.
BrainDead’s Gritz: 8.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
Cedar Creek’s Fisticuffs: 8.
Lakewood’s Punkel: 8.
Four Corners’ El Chingon IPA: 8.
Martin House’s Day Break: 8.
Deep Ellum’s GOURDzilla: 8.
Peticolas’ The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
Deep Ellum’s Pale Ale: 8.
Revolver’s Bock: 8.
903 Brewers’ Sasquatch: 8.
Peticolas’ Wintervention: 8.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Brunch Money: 8.
Martin House’s Salsa Verde: 8.
Cedar Creek’s Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
Lakewood’s Holiday Bonus: 8.
Lakewood’s Hop Trapp: 8.
Legal Draft’s Accused Amber Lager: 7.5.
Grapevine’s Reserve Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse: 7.5.
Martin House’s Stars Above: 7.5.
Grapevine’s Prickly Pear Wheat Ale: 7.5.
Bitter Sisters’ Knock Out: 7.5.
Four Corners’ Notorious O.A.T.: 7.5.
Noble Rey Golden Rey With Raspberries and Ginger: 7.5.
On Rotation Saved By The Belma: 7.5.
True Vine’s Unicorn’s Revenge: 7.5.
Deep Ellum’s Hop Seeker: 7.5.
Four Corners’ El Super Bee: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Hopochondria: 7.5.
Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
Martin House’s Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Antigoon’s Revenge: 7.5.
Community’s Texas Pils: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Zomer Pils: 7.5.
Cedar Creek’s Dankosaurus: 7.5.
Oak Highlands Brewery’s Oktoberfest.: 7.25.
Backcountry’s Double IPA: 7.
Rahr’s Visionary: 7.
Shannon Brewing’s Irish Cream Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Guava Good: 7.
TUPPS Brewery’ Northbound 75: 7.
Rahr & Sons’ Iron Joe: 7.
BrainDead’s I Like Harvey IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Turtle Power: 7.
Collective’s Petite Golden Sour: 7.
Shannon’s Chocolate Stout: 7.
BrainDead’s Red Ale: 7.
Community’s Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
Bearded Eel’s Purple Unicorn: 7.
Noble Rey’s Off The Leash: 7.
Shannon Brewing Company’s Irish Red: 7.
Texas Ale Project’s Somethin’ Shady: 7.
Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
Cedar Creek’s The Lawn Ranger: 7.
Martin House Brewing Company’s Cellarman’s Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
Lakewood’s Till & Toil: 7.
903 Brewers’ The Chosen One: 7.
903 Brewers’ Sugar On Top: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway XPA: 7.
Armadillo Ale Work’s Quakertown Stout: 7.
Revolver’s High Brass: 7.
Community’s Pale Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Chump Change: 7.
Martin House’s River House: 7.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Sir William’s Brown Ale: 7.
Community’s Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
Audacity’s Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Queen of the Mist (Prickly Pear): 6.75.
Martin House’s The Juice: 6.5.
Collective Brewing Project’s Mom Azacca: 6.5.
Four Corners’ La Lechuza: 6.5.
Revolver’s Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
903 Brewers’ Trot Line: 6.5.
Peticolas’ Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Nightwatch: 6.5.
Peticolas’ The Duke: 6.5.
Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
Wild Acre’s Tarantula Hawk: 6.
Martin House’s Kafkaesque: 6.
TUPPS’ Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Tweedleyum: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Off With Your Red: 6.
Cedar Creek’s Elliott’s Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Lakefire: 6
Armadillo Ale Works’ WunderMelon: 6
Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
Lakewood’s Troll Toll: 5.5.
Martin House’s Hell Below: 5.5.
Lakewood’s La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
Intrinsic’s Crunktoberfest: 5.
Martin House’s Mind On My Money: 5.
903 Brewers’ The Land Of Milk And Honey: 5.
Deep Ellum’s Numb Comfort: 5.
Four Bullets’ Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
Four Corners Heart O’ Texas: 4.
Audacity’s Sunset Boulevard: 4.
Shannon Brewing Company’s IPA: 4.
Grapevine’s Monarch: 4.
Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde: 3.
Franconia Wheat: 3.
Miller Lite: 1.

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