Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pumpkin Beer Tasting – Some Local, Some Not

Quite a variety of different pumpkin beers, all purchased at LaBodega in Anchorage, Alaska.
In keeping with the pumpkin theme this month, I'm now surrounded by seven different beers. It's quite amazing how different they all are. I will reveal what I think is the best and worst at the end of my post. Originally I was going to buy seven different single 12 ounce beers. I really didn't want a whole six pack; this was a tasting. When I got to the store they only had two different brands that came in 12 ounces bottles but plenty of others in 22 ounce. So I purchased the two 12 ounce beers and the rest were in the big bottles. I purchased the beer at LaBodga which is a locally owned store. I really love to shop there because they will split up six packs of beer, and the staff is knowledgeable and very helpful. They have a super collection of beers.

Please keep in mind, this is just my own opinion. Everyone has different tastes. My taste in beer runs to brews such as Great Divide Hibernation Ale (no longer available in Alaska). I really enjoy dark, smooth, brooding, sipping beers such as Thelonius Monk Belgian-Style Abbey Ale. For something "lighter," I'd go for Sierra Nevada Tumbler. I absolutely despise "beers" such as Bud, Coors, Michelob Light, etc.

Here are the seven pumpkin beers in tasting order, with my impressions:

Buffalo Bill's Brewery America's Original Pumpkin Ale 5.2% ABV / 12 ounce bottle $1.50 LaBodga
Ale brewed with real pumpkin and natural spice flavor.
Brewed in Hayward, California. Here are my tasting notes: "Kind of hazy, not obnoxious in any way, effervescent, mild, very drinkable, pleasant enough. Very good with veggie pizza. I like it!!" This one really grew on me as I drank it. I would commit to buying a six pack of this one. Three stars - good.

Shock-Top Pumpkin Wheat 5.2% ABV / 12 ounces bottle $1.50 at LaBodega
Belgian-style wheat ale brewed with pumpkin and spices.
This is a mass produced beer by Anheuser-Busch. It already had three strikes against it because I am pro micro-brewery. Not fair, but I did try to keep an open mind. It was unfiltered which I love in a beer. Here are my tasting notes: "Pours hazy, non-offensive, a little rough around the edges, not aware of any spice or pumpkin, not enjoying this the way I did the Buffalo Bill (see above), kind of harsh, not so great with my veggie burger and home fries. Started to get a headache, dumped the rest." One star - didn't like it.

Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Treat Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter 7.8% ABV / 30 IBUs / 22 ounce bottle $9 LaBodega 
Ale brewed with pumpkin, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, cloves & nutmeg.
Brewed in Anchorage, Alaska. A porter but without the coffee notes. This beer rocked my world! Dark, tasty, not too boozy, right amount of hops, just lovely! Tasting notes - "Deep dark, smooth, quite delicious." My tasting buddy felt it was a dessert drink but we were swilling (and loving it) with hummus and pita bread. 5 stars - loved it!

Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Trickster 7% ABV / 22 IBUs / 22 ounce bottle $7.95 LaBodega
Belgian-Style Ale brewed with pumpkin & spices.
Brewed in Anchorage, Alaska. Loved the label. Unfortunately I'm not a great fan of light Belgian-style beers and we tasted this at the same time as the Treat. Tasting notes – "Pours clear, light copper color, faint spicy smell, okay." My tasting buddy and I were a little underwhelmed. I have another bottle of this and will try it at a later date by itself. Two stars - fair.

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale 5.9% ABV / 18 IBUs / 22 ounces bottle $4.95 LaBodega
Ale brewed with pumpkin and pumpkin seeds and fermented with spices.
Brewed in Seattle, Washington. I guess from the name "Night Owl," I was expecting a dark beer. It's not. Tasting notes: Pours clear, light copper color, pretty head, doesn't smell or taste of pumpkin or spices, pleasant enough, okay." Two stars - fair.

Elysian Hansel and Gretel Ginger Pumpkin Pilsner 4.5% ABV / 22 ounces bottle $7.95 LaBodega
Tasting notes: "Golden color, kind of hazy, smell that ginger(!), refreshing, whoa ginger(!), soapy(?), I don't think I care for this beer." Capped the bottle and there it still sits in the refrigerator. One star - didn't like.

Two Beers Brewing Co. Pumpkin Spice Ale 5.2% ABV / 19 IBUs / 22 ounce bottle $6.50 LaBodega
Brewed with pumpkin, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and cinnamon.
Another Seattle, Washington brewery. I really like these guys 'cause they sell beers in 12 ounce aluminum cans which is important since you can't recycle bottles in Anchorage anymore! Tasting notes: "Pours clear, light amber, mmmm, mmmmm, lightly spicy, very pleasant, enjoyable beer." Drank half and capped the bottle and finished it off the next day. Four stars - I liked it!

The hands-down winner was the Midnight Sun Treat. My next favorite was the Two Beers Pumpkin Spice Ale. The worst was a draw between the Elysian Ginger Pumpkin Pilsner and the ShockTop Pumpkin Wheat.

No comments:

Post a Comment