The Third Annual Pumpkin Beer Tasting

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Although we are Cigar and Whiskey, we pride ourselves on trying a world of delicious things in the world of smoke and drink. So it was three years ago that we decided that we’d try some pumpkin beers and let everyone know what we thought. Last year we tried even MORE pumpkin beers, then promptly got too drunk and forgot to write down everything (this shall henceforth be referred to as “the lost year”). However, this year we decided we wouldn’t be doing this project justice if we didn’t taste ALL of the pumpkin beers we could find in the central Texas area!

We also decided to base this round on data more than remembering specific taste, because frankly its hard to keep great notes when you’re 40+ beers deep. So, we gave all of our tasters scorecards (there were eleven tasters total) and had them rate each beer on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being “not fit for human consumption” and 5 being “give me the rest of the bomber”. We then combined and averaged the scores to bring you our official ratings for this year!

We’ll include in the list below the name, brewery, and style¬†of the beers in addition to the average rating. If you’ve got any questions or opinions on the beers themselves then sound off in the comments and we’ll do our best to try to remember them…(seriously, next year we’re going to include a better notes section because relying on memory for specific tasting notes is, shall we say, impossible).

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the list!

Name Brewery Type Score
Black’O’Lantern Wasatch Stout 4.27
20 Pounds of Pumpkin Samuel Adams Ale 3.82
Pumpkin Ale Whole Hog Ale 3.82
Pumpkin Ale Upslope Ale 3.82
Pumpkinator St. Arnold Imperial Stout 3.73
Pumpkick New Belgium Ale 3.45
Imperial Pumpkin Smash Crown Valley Stout 3.45
Krunkin Pumpkin Karbach Ale 3.27
Nightmare on 1st Street Off Label Imperial Ale 3.00
Leinenkugel Harvest Patch Shandy Leinenkugel Shandy 2.86
Harvest Pumpkin Ale Blue Moon Ale 2.82
Imperial Pumpkin Harpoon Imperial Stout 2.82
Pumpkinhead Shipyard Ale 2.64
Pumking Southern Tier Imperial Ale 2.64
Imperial Pumpkin Porter 26 Epic Imperial Porter 2.55
Pumpkin Massacre Infamous Porter 2.55
Pumpkin Seasonal Wasatch Ale 2.45
Punk’n Uinta Ale 2.45
Funkier Pumpkin Boulevard Brewing Company Spiced Sour Ale 2.45
Headless Gentleman Imperial Bourbon Porter Strangeland Brewery 2.45
Pumpkin Spice Latte Buffalo Bayou Ale 2.45
Imperial Pumpkin Porter 15 Epic Imperial Porter 2.36
Wick For Brains Nebraska Ale 2.32
Pumpkin Spice Latte Breckenridge Brewery Stout 2.27
Punkin Ale Dogfish Head Brown Ale 2.27
Sleepy Hollow Five Stones Ale 2.27
Pumpkin Patch Rogue Ale 2.27
Funk’N’Patch Uinta Ale 2.18
Punkel Lakewood Brewing Company Dunkel 2.09
Smashed Pumpkin Shipyard Ale 2.09
Pumpkin Ale Kennebunkport Ale 2.00
Pumpkin UFO Harpoon Unfiltered Ale 2.00
Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat Shock Top 2.00
Fall Hornin’ Anderson Valley Ale 1.73
La Parcela Jolly Pumpkins Sour Ale 1.55
Rumpkin Avery Brewing Ale Aged in Rum Barrels 1.45
Post Road Pumpkin Ale Brooklyn Ale 1.36
Hooligan North Peak Ale 1.27
Pump(KY)n Avery Brewing Porter Aged in Bourbon Barrels 1.18
Pumpkin Lambicus Timmermans Lambic 0.91
Pinchy Jeek Barl Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel Pumpkin Ale 0.91
Warlock Imperial Stout Southern Tier 0.91
Pumpkin Latte Martin House Stout 0.73

We’d also like to give a special shout out to WhichCraft Beer Store in Austin Texas for helping us curate our selection this year and offering us a few hard to find selections they were aging. Thanks guys!

 

The Great Pumpkin Beer Ranking

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2014-10-05 14.14.22

The start of October brings with it many excellent things. Trick or treating, Halloween parties, haunted houses, hayrides, pumpkin carving and more excite the senses and make this one of our favorite times of year. It also signifies the release of many excellent seasonal pumpkin beers, which have grown in number and quality over the years. 2014 saw more releases than ever and so we felt we should get some friends together and give them a try to put together a consensus on where they all stand! Our main criteria for this tasting was to determine which beers best exemplified “a delicious pumpkin character”. We’ve got a decent amount of ground to cover, so let’s jump on in!

15. Lakewood Brewing Co. “Punkel”

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The Lakewood Brewing “Punkel” came up last in our tasting. While the beer is by no means undrinkable, it features very little pumpkin flavor, and indeed lacks in flavor overall compared to the other offerings. While those who enjoy their seasonal beers to feature more muted flavors might enjoy this one, true pumpkin beer aficionados need look elsewhere.

14. Anderson Valley “Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale”

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The “Fall Hornin'” ale was the only canned beer of the bunch. At first it seems to suffer the issues as the Punkel above, but after it settles for a while a really nice pumpkin flavor can be detected. Unfortunately the one we tried was heavily over-carbonated, which really masked the flavor quite a bit. If the brewers had put a little more confidence in the Hornin’ it could have easily ranked higher, but as it is we can’t place it high on our list.

13. Post Road “Pumpkin Ale”

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The Post Road “Pumpkin Ale” is one of the more easily found pumpkin beers (in our area at least) and so sets the tone as the “supermarket standard”. While there is a decently good pumpkin flavor present, it does not really pop and ultimately tastes a little generic. Not a bad brew to pick up if you need something quick and it’s available, but nothing really special either.

12. New Belgium “Pumpkick”

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The New Belgium “Pumpkick” has an interesting flavor profile that, in our opinion, makes it taste like something of a “Thanksgiving beer”. That is because there is a tremendous note of cranberry and savory lemongrass that permeates the drink. These notes do combine with the pumpkin effectively, but you could not say that the pumpkin is the focal point here. Still, it is an intriguing beer and if you’d like to experience Thanksgiving in a glass this might be right up your alley.

11. Crooked Line “Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin”

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Perhaps more than any other beer on this list, the “Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin” necessitated our setting a tasting criteria. That’s because this beer is absolutely delicious, very drinkable, and should be sought after by fans of oak-aged stouts. That said, it has very little actual pumpkin flavor, which means it falls just outside of our top 10.

10. Alaskan “Pumpkin Porter”

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The Alaskan “Pumpkin Porter” was the first of the beers we tried which we could easily classify as overtly pumpkin-y. It has a very robust flavor that commands your attention throughout the drink. The only major downside (and this was controversial amongst our group so you might disagree as well) is a strong alcohol bite on the finish.

9. Dogfish Head “Punkin Ale”

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The Dogfish Head “Punkin Ale” is one of the most sought-after and lauded pumpkin brews. We agree that it is very tasty, and this year’s batch is particularly good (many of our tasters had tried the 2013 batch and were underwhelmed, so this was a welcome surprise). This has a very good pumpkin flavor that, while lacking in richness, is sure to satisfy.

8. Southern Tier “Warlock”

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The Southern Tier “Warlock” is the close cousin of their much lauded “Pumking” beverage (see below). It adds a strong maple flavoring to the pumpkin, and has a similarly strong alcohol note. We enjoyed this brew for its potent profile and overall richness, but it loses a few points because it does try to do a little too much. Still, fans of Southern Tier would be remiss if they didn’t give this one a go.

7. Red Hook “Out Of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter”

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Red Hook’s pumpkin offering brings with it a great pumpkin flavor, and gets high marks for being the only porter that we would define as easily drinkable. Choose the “Out Of Your Gourd” pumpkin porter is you’re looking for a strong pumpkin beer with little in the way of competing flavors. It only does one thing, but it does it quite well.

6. Harpoon “UFO Pumpkin”

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Harpoon’s “UFO Pumpkin” has a great pumpkin flavor that is very clearly unfiltered. Several of our tasters commented that this beer skirted the line of a wheat beers flavor profile, leading many to claim that it should be considered a “pumpkin hefeweizen”.