Upon pouring this #DarkSideOfHammock creation, the Jav-O-Lantern exhibits a near-black hue with cola-like highlights. The fizzy tan foam quickly dissipates, leaving behind a turbid concoction. The woodblock print style label from artist Paul Carpenter adds an aesthetic touch.


The initial whiff reveals volatile scents reminiscent of scented candles and crayons, swiftly transitioning to savory notes of olive, prune, black peppercorn, and the expected fall spice blend of allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. As it warms, the aroma leans towards a savory profile with hints of soy, plum sauce, Beldi olive, and a touch of salty brine. The promised smoked pumpkin and coffee elements are elusive in the background.


Savoriness takes center stage, accompanied by subtle notes of brown sugar and a light blend of allspice, peppercorn, and nutmeg. The mid-palate introduces a notable acidity akin to oyster stout or Irish dry stout, potentially derived from coffee or roasted malt. The beer maintains a delicate bitterness, avoiding any excessive sweetness, with an unexpectedly light body reminiscent of Guinness. The briny, savory quality makes this dark ale remarkably drinkable, and the integrated coffee addition complements the overall flavor profile. The promised smoked pumpkin is, once again, a subtle presence.


The Jav-O-Lantern surprises with its ultra-light body, reminiscent of a Guinness, providing a refreshing contrast to the bold flavors. The acidity, coupled with powerful flavors, cleverly conceals the 7.4% ABV, contributing to the beer’s overall drinkability.


In conclusion, the Jav-O-Lantern from Crooked Hammock Brewery is an exceptional beer that transcends the confines of the typical pumpkin ale category. Its fall spice character is seamlessly integrated, making it suitable for year-round enjoyment as a stout or porter. The beer’s base could potentially shine as an oyster stout or Irish dry stout on nitro. If maintained as a fall seasonal, a bolder approach with higher levels of adjuncts—spices, smoked character, coffee, and pumpkin—could elevate its presence. Despite subtle nuances that may escape the casual drinker, anyone seeking a benchmark for an excellent stout/porter should undoubtedly seek out this brew.