Tuesday, September 8, 2009

There can be only ONE!!!

THE QUEST FOR THE PERFECT PUMPKIN ALE CONTINUES!!! Now, I just have to say how I'm really enjoying this Blog. I hope all of the readers are too!! By the way, the results are in after I posed the question: "What is your favorite beer season?" 30% enjoy Summer beers while 70% are more into the Fall/Oktoberfest variety. Although, perhaps its this blog that swayed the vote slightly seeing as we are currently all about Fall beers. But I have to agree - this time of year is definitely my favorite!!

Kate and I will try and give everyone a new question each week to keep you coming back for more. And don't forget to sign up to be a BEER411 FOLLOWER on the right side of the page!!

Anyway, last Thursday, we decided to put our pumpkin palates to the test. I convinced several brave souls to join me in a blind pumpkin ale tasting. No bottles or breweries or brand names to sway our votes... no price tags or popularity...not even the size of the bottle would sway our vote!! (get your mind out of the gutter, we're talking beer here!) The conditions were that everyone participating was asked to bring (1) 6 pk of Pumpkin Ale. I moderated so that no one brought duplicates.

Initially, I thought that we would have 3 or 4 different kinds btw the few people that showed up. Then, what started as 3 or 4 grew into 8!! Ultimately, here was the lineup that we ended up tasting:

Now, I'm not going to go through each and every beer that we tasted (However, all of the information on each one is listed below...FYI.) I want to inform everyone on the way we went about this tasting. What we liked, what we didn't like - and how each pumpkin ale compared to the other. I will say that each one of these ales was very drinkable... just some more than others. You'll also notice that there were several NOTABLE varieties missing... No Dogfish Punkin... No Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale... No Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin (new this year)... No Heavy Seas Pumpkin Ale (also new this year)... It's also worth pointing out that everyone's tastes are different. But the results were needless to say... interesting.

8 unmarked beers were poured into glasses and placed in front of us... we compared the smell, color, taste and finish of each one. Some were spicy... others bland... some didn't have much of a smell... others had a VERY pungent Pumpkin smell...

After everyone had a chance to sample... we started by each picking out our favorites. (The envelope please...)

Ladies and gentlemen, this year's 1st annual Impromptu Pumpkin Ale tasting award goes to...

...Post Road Pumpkin Ale.

Yes, this was one of my favorites. Out of the 6 people that were there, 3 picked the Post Road, 2 people picked the Shipyard Pumpkinhead and 1 picked the Weyerbacher. I'd have to say, it was tough, because I also REALLY liked the Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale. (See - I TOLD you it was good this year!!)

So what the heck does all this mean, Tone?! You tried a bunch of Pumpkin beers. Yeah great. What's in it for me?! Ah, grasshopper... here's my advice. If you are looking to spice up your beverages for a party this fall season, here are the 3 beers that I suggest you go with:

1. Post Road Pumpkin Ale
2. Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale
3. Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

However, if you are someone that enjoys a more "complicated" taste and you aren't too afraid of a higher ABV%, jump into the world of Weyerbacher. I have to say, it was a very good beer too... but drinking a few of these might render your brain a little dumb.

Lastly, the one beer that really was in a class of its own... the Southern Tier PumKing Ale. In this type of tasting, it really did not go at all with the other beers we had. The smell was OVERPOWERINGLY Pumpkiny... and the taste was almost "buttery" or "creamy". I have to say when I had this beer about a week ago, it was very very good. However, I feel like in this sort of scenario (with all of the other beers being tasted at the same time), it caused the PumKing to get a low score on everyone's sheet. Moral of the story... if you go with this beer, make sure you start with it and don't plan to have a lot. Because if you stray from this variety and then go back (which most of us did during this tasting), I think you'd be overpowered with spices and texture. Recently, I read a description on a random beer blog that kinda hit the nail on the head. Drinking the Southern Tier is like Pumpkin Pie WITH the Whip Cream. There you go.

As for the other beers that we sampled... they were good. Just nothing to write home about. Saranac, Sea Dog, South Hampton... good, not great. Of course - the results could be TOTALLY different if it was out of the tap. :)

~Happy Hunting~

(From Left to Right)
Brewery: Weyerbacher
Style: Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Size: 12 fl oz.
ABV: 8.00%

Brewery: Smuttynose
Style: Pumpkin Ale
Size: 12 fl oz.
ABV: 6.00%

Brewery: Saranac
Style: Pumpkin Ale
Size: 12 fl oz.
ABV: 5.40%

Brewery: Sea Dog
Style: Pumpkin Ale
Size: 12 fl oz.
ABV: 5.00%

Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery
Style: Post Road Pumpkin Ale
Size: 12 fl oz.
ABV: 5.00%

Brewery: South Hampton
Style: Pumpkin Ale
Size: 12 fl oz.
ABV: 5.5%

Brewery: Shipyard
Style: Pumpkinhead Ale
Size: 12 fl oz.
ABV: 4.50%

Brewery: Southern Tier
Style: PumKing Ale
Size: 22 fl oz.
ABV: 9.00%

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