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A Delicious Serving Of Fall Flavors On Its Own, Division Brewing’s Autumn Seasonal Beer Is A Holiday Feast In A Glass.

This week we sipped on Smokin’ Jack-o’s from Division Brewing.

Fast Facts about Smokin’ Jack-o’s
Style: Autumn Seasonal Beer (Porter)
ABV: 9.3%
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 32
Color: Brown/Black
Availability: Draught and Cans at the brewery

Overview
Division Brewing is a couple of weeks shy of four years old, making it Arlington’s oldest brewery. Again, another brewery with a traditional core group of beers that are always on tap but unlike a lot of breweries going this route, Division tends to bring back favorites on a regular basis. At any given time, you can find upwards of 20 brews available in the taproom with roughly half of those being sours – something for everyone.

Division has made something of a name for itself as a music venue, too. The brewery hosts concerts regularly, and often ties these events to charity work. One such event is happening this Friday, December 13: The Festival of Tight III: The Tightmare Before Xmas. It will feature performances from Dead Words, Hans Gruber and the Diehards and From Parts Unknown.

Background on Autumn Seasonal Beer
Autumn Seasonal Beer is something of an “overlay” style, meaning that the brewer starts with a base style of beer in the amber to copper color range before adding flavors that are evocative of the autumn harvest season. These added flavors usually include pumpkin and always includes aromatic spicing in the form of things like nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. In short, think of the style as dropping temperatures, falling leaves and Thanksgiving in a glass. As with other overlay styles, the base beer should not be overshadowed by the fall harvest additions, but rather form a harmonious blend allowing both the beer and the autumn flavors to shine.

Appearance
Smokin’ Jack-o’s pours a rich brown-black in color with a creamy tan head. This brew isn’t even close to clear, either. This thing is opaque. It’s almost as if someone pushed a piece of not-quite-black velvet into the glass. Even out in the bright sunlight, there was zero light coming through – even around the edges. You can almost feel this beer in the glass, as though its alive. The head starts off rich and thick but it is gone too soon leaving behind a thin tan collar of fine bubbles that lasts to the final swallow.

Aroma
As the style and name imply, there is a lot going on in Smokin’ Jack-o’s. Pumpkin sweetness is the first thing you notice but it’s not a massive hit as is so often the case with Autumn Seasonal brews. While the pumpkin is somewhat subtle, there is a depth to it that isn’t usually present – something perhaps attributable to the use of butternut squash alongside the pumpkin. These gourd notes are supported by a rich, roasty base blended with autumn spices of nutmeg and allspice. Smoky highlights punctuate the whole, adding a wonderful finishing touch to what is already an excellent aromatic journey.

Flavor
Smokin’ Jack-o’s is a flavor experience right off the Thanksgiving dessert tray with all the best parts of your grandmother’s pumpkin pie mixed with a medium-roast cup of coffee. The perceived bitterness comes from the roast malt – no noticeable hop bitterness here – and is cut ever so slightly by a light sweetness of the baked gourds. Again, this is all backstopped by a really light smokiness reminiscent of a camp fire off in the distance that you only notice when the wind blows just right.

Mouthfeel
Following the big visual and aromatic feast already provided, a full-bodied presence is expected here, and Smokin’ Jack-o’s does not disappoint. This beer fills your mouth completely in a smooth, pleasant fashion. While completely full, it is in no way thick or viscous, as might have been expected. Medium carbonation provides a lite bite to the tongue and sides of your mouth. At 9.3 percent ABV, you might think there would be a big burn to this but it remains smooth with only a slight warmth to betray the alcohol.

Pairing
Porters are big, usually intense beers and need food of the same standard when pairing. Smokin’ Jack-o’s is no exception. Slow smoked BBQ with a spicy-sweet sauce sounds great here. Pork ribs were first to mind, but brisket or pulled-pork would work too — just make sure you get some of those burnt ends in the mix to go with the roastiness of the beer. Butternut squash soup would work well too if the squash is roasted and boldly spiced, serving to highlight use of gourds in the beer. If you wanted to get a little fancier, try roasted duck with a ginger glaze. For a cheese, you can’t go wrong with a caved aged Gruyère – the older, the better!

Overall Impression
This beer blew me away. I love porters and well-done smoked beers but typically don’t like pumpkin style beers. I think the difference here is the baked, spiced preparation of the pumpkin and the inclusion of the butternut squash combined with adding both to the mash rather than to the fermentation. Roasting the gourds in the oven caramelized them and boosted the natural sweetness, offering a great counterpoint to roasted bitterness inherent in a porter. Using a heavier base beer like the porter worked fantastically well too, giving the gourd notes a set of supporting flavors and aromas to play off.

All that combines to really give Smokin’ Jack-o’s a holistic feel when so many beers in this style feel like someone just tossed some pumpkins in the tank on a whim.

We came desperately close to dropping a perfect score on Smokin’ Jack-o’s, but in the end, the lack of head retention and use of porter as a base style – both things outside the Beer Judge Certification Guidelines for an Autumn Seasonal – counted against it. These, however, are technicalities and in no way do they diminish how amazing this beer really is.

Score
On a scale of 1 to 10, we give Division Brewing’s Smokin Jack-o’s a fat 9.

Previous On Tap Reviews:

• Revolver’s Sangre y Miel: 10.
• Peticolas’ Royal Scandal: 10.
• Community’s Mosaic IPA: 10.
• Deep Ellum Brewing Company’s Freak Flag: 10.
• Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer: 10.
• Collective Brewing Project’s Boysenbarrel: 10.
• Community’s Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
• Community’s Legion: 10.
• Martin House River Horse: 9.75.
• BrainDead’s Fill in the Blancs: 9.5.
• Oak Highlands’ Freaky Deaky: 9.5.
• 903 Brewers’ Birthday Sasquatch: 9.5.
• TUPPS Brewery’s Full Grown Scallywag: 9.5.
• On Rotation’s Flocculation of Seagulls: 9.5.
• Braindead Brewing’s P-Wing: 9.5.
• Lakewood Brewing Company’s Coconut Temptress: 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.
• Collective Brewing Project’s SMaSHY: 9.25
• BrainDead Brewing’s Galactic Federation of Might: 9.25
• On Rotation’s Lingonberry Sahti: 9.25.
• Martin House Brewing Company’s The Morrigan: 9.25.
On Rotation’s Jalapeno Saison: 9.
• Woodcreek’s Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
• Braindead Brewing Company’s Dr. Dreipricot: 9.
• Lakewood’s Wild Manimal: 9.
• Manhattan Project Beer Company’s Necessary Evil: 9.
• Revolver’s Blood & Honey: 9.
• Funky Picnic’s Funny Accent: 9.
• Martin House’s Imperial Texan: 9.
• Wild Acre’s Mondlift: 9.
• Community’s Trinity Tripel: 9.
• Peticolas’ Irish Goodbye: 9.
• Four Corners’ Block Party Porter: 9.
• Bankhead Brewing Co.’s Giggle Water: 9.
• Cedar Creek’s Belgian Dubbel: 9.
• Manhattan Project’s Wise Monkeys: 9.
• Cedar Creek’s Poblano Paradise: 8.75.
• Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest: 8.75.
• Lakewood Brewing Company IPA: 8.75.
• Small Brewpub’s Black Pepper Pils: 8.5.
• Peticolas’ Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
• Deep Ellum’s Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
• Community Beer Company’s Passiflora: 8.5.
• Deep Ellum’s Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
• Community Beer Company’s Wit ‘N Wild: 8.5.
• Lakewood’s Rock Ryder: 8.5.
• Rahr’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
• Lakewood’s Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
• Peticolas’ Prime Minister: 8.25.
• Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s Winter Warmer: 8.25.
• Noble Rey Brewing’s Barampus: 8.25.
• Martin House’s Possum Kingdom Pilsner: 8.25.
• Community Beer Company’s Brett’s Get It On: 8.25.
• Bankhead Brewing Company’s Aoogah!: 8.25.
• Lakewood’s Peach Artsy Tarsty: 8.25.
• Peticolas Brewing Company’s Clandestine: 8.
• Lakewood Brewing Grand Allowance: 8.
• HopFusion Ale Works’ Hairpin: 8
• Peticolas’ Golden Opportunity: 8
• Collective Brewing Project’s Cup O’ Sumpin Raspberry Lemonade: 8.
• Texas Ale Project’s Smash Experiment: 8.
• Armadillo Ale Works’ Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale: 8.
• Cedar Creek Brewery’s Gone A-Rye: 8.
• Community’s Texas Helles: 8.
• On Rotation’s Moar Blackberry: 8.
• Franconia’s Silver Star Bock: 8
• Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s Paleta de Mango: 8.
• Peticolas Brewing Company’s Doctor’s Orders: 8.
• Hop & Sting Brewing Company’s Galactic Haze: 8.
• Lakewood’s Thread Spinner: 8.
• Bishop Cider Co.’s Sour Cherry: 8.
• Texas Ale Project 50 Ft. Jackrabbit: 8.
• Cedar Creek Brewery’s Gone A-Rye: 8.
• Pegasus City Brewing’ Nine Volt: 8.
• Texas Ale Project’s Payne Pils: 8.
• Noble Rey’s Bridesmaid’s Tears: 8.
• Collective Brewing’s Urban Funk House: 8.
• Pegasus City Brewery’s Cannoneer: 8.
• Pegasus City Brewery’s Sixth Floor: 8.
• Lakewood’s All 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.
• New Main Brewing’s Thundersnow: 8.
• Martin House’s Day Break: 8.
• Deep Ellum’s GOURDzilla: 8.
• Peticolas’ The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
• Deep Ellum’s Neato Bandito: 8.
• Revolver’s Bock: 8.
• 903 Brewers’ Sasquatch: 8.
• Peticolas’ Wintervention: 8.
• Division Brewing’s Distant Cousin: 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.
• Pegasus City Brewery’s The Woofus: 7.75
• Four Corners Brewing Company Homie Brew: 7.75.
• Community Beer Company’s Snickerdoodle: 7.75.
• Pegasus City Brewery’s High Point: 7.75.
• Cedar Creek’s Grapefruit Haze: 7.75.
• Martin House Brewing’s Big Hoppa: 7.75.
• TUPPS Full Grown Man: 7.75.
• 3 Nations American Wit: 7.75.
• Armadillo Ale Works’ Dapper Apple: 7.75.
• 903 Brewers’ Kilt Switch: 7.5.
• Chimera Dirty Dog: 7.5.
• 3 Nations Brewing Company’s Imperial Milk Stout: 7.5.
• Legal Draft’s Accused Amber Lager: 7.5.
• Grapevine’s Reserve Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse: 7.5.
• Martin House’s Stars Above: 7.5.
• Noble Rey Brewing Company’s Frooty Tang: 7.5.
• Martin House Brewing’s Pretzel Stout: 7.5.
• Grapevine’s Prickly Pear Wheat Ale: 7.5.
• Texas Ale Project’s Good To Go: 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.
• Cedar Creek Brewery Clover Kicker: 7.25.
• Noble Rey Sex In A Canoe: 7.25.
• Legal Draft Beer Company Free & Clear: 7.25.
• Oak Highlands Brewery’s Oktoberfest.: 7.25.
• Noble Rey’s European Vacation: 7
• Unlawful Assembly’s Public Dissent: 7.
• Deep Ellum Rye Pils: 7.
• Union Bear’s Amber Red Ale: 7.
Turning Point Beer’s Silent Treatment: 7.
• Wild Acre Brewing Company’s Ranch Style: 7.
• 3 Nations Mango SMASH IPA: 7.
• Legal Draft Chief Justice Stout: 7.
• Legal Draft’s Black Letter Law: 7.
• Noble Rey Brewing Company’s Mother Night: 7.
• TUPPS Brewery’s Imperial Saison: 7.
• Manhattan Project’s Plutonium-239: 7.
• Panther Island Brewing’s Sweet Fang: 7.
• Backcountry’s Texas IPA: 7.
• Backcountry’s Double IPA: 7.
• Wild Acre Brewing Company’s Billy Jenkins: 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.
• Three Nations Brewing Co.’s Texas Gold Chili Lime: 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.
• Texas Ale Project’s Hawaiian Roadrunner: 6.75.
• Whistle Post’s Shoofly Coconut Lime Ale: 6.75.
• Community Brewing Company’s Silly Gose: 6.75
• HopFusion Ale Works’ Feisty Blonde: 6.75
• Martin House’s Queen of the Mist (Prickly Pear): 6.75.
• Armadillo Ale Works Land Yacht IPA: 6.5
• Three Nations Texas Xmas Hazelnut Ale: 6.5.
• 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.
• Four Corners’ Celebración: 6.5.
• Peticolas’ Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
• Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s Pumpkin Ale: 6.5.
• Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Nightwatch: 6.5.
• Peticolas’ The Duke: 6.5.
• Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
• Cedar Creek’s Maui Wowie: 6.25.
• On Rotation’s Mexican Barleywine: 6.25.
• Thirsty Bro Brewing Co.’s Sweet Cherry Blonde: 6
• On Rotation’s Darjeeling Tea Session Ale: 6.
• Wild Acre’s Tarantula Hawk: 6.
• Martin House’s Kafkaesque: 6.
• TUPPS’ Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
• Brutal Beerworks’ Mother Heffer: 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
• Cobra Brewing Company’s Dawn of the Dank: 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.
• Martin House’s Best Maid Sour Pickle Beer: 5.
• Woodcreek’s Lakeside Cerveza: 5.
• Legal Draft Beer Company’s Smash & Grab IPA: 5.
• Martin House Cuvee Pumpkin Latte: 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.
• TUPPS’ Day Off: 4.75.
• 3 Nations’ Lady Luck Horchata Ale: 4.5.
• Four Bullets’ Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
• Audacity’s Checkered Past: 4.
• Four Corners Heart O’ Texas: 4.
• Audacity’s Sunset Boulevard: 4.
• Shannon Brewing Company’s IPA: 4.
• Grapevine’s Monarch: 4.
• TUPPS’ Cotton Candy Shandy: 4.
• Good Neighbor Brews’ Slim Sweetness: 3.
• Good Neighbor Brews’ O’Carrol’s Irish Red: 3.
• Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde: 3.
• Franconia Wheat: 3.
• 903 Brewers’ Mythical Creatures: 2.5.
• Miller Lite: 1

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