Hello and welcome to the second round of my Second Annual Blind Pumpkin tasting. Not going to lie, this round was something of a disappointment, so take this as your warning about these beers. Let’s do this thing and move along
Beer number one was Pumpkin Ale by Captain Lawrence Brewing Company. It poured a golden orange/amber body with a thin, fizzy white head. The smell was moderately sweet with a ton of spices. It mellowed out a bit as the sample sat there, but the aroma sure came on strong at the start. Given this, the taste was somewhat surprising. It had toasty malts upfront with just a hint of the usual mix of pumpkin spices by the finish. There was also a slight a bitterness and just a hint of booziness as the beer warmed up, which seemed odd considering it was only 5.5%. I would put both mouthfeel and carbonation at moderate. Overall this wasn’t a bad beer, but I didn’t find it particularly inspiring either. I was kind of disappointed that it was a Captain Lawrence offering as I had recently spent a day enjoying the hell out of their IPA at the New York Renaissance Faire.
Next up was an old nemesis of mine, Pumking by Southern Tier Brewing Company. I have not liked this beer the past few years but wanted to give it another try. Never again, I say, never again. It pours a light golden, just slightly orange color without much head to speak of. It was by the smell that I recognized my foe. Sweet, buttery, and a whole lot of spices. The taste was more of the same. Total spice bomb of nutmeg, cinnamon, and artificial pumpkin spice. It also tasted a bit buttery to me with a cloying sweetness that gives this beer a messy taste. The mouthfeel is thick and oily smooth with a very light amount of carbonation. I wanted to drain pour this but my wife insisted that I finish it on the grounds that I knew what I was getting into when I bought it. She’s not wrong, but this beer sure was. Some people love this beer, and my opinion may even be in the minority here, so I’ll be leaving all the rest for them.
Last up was Roadsmary’s Baby by Two Roads Brewing Company. This one surprised me after the reveal. Last year I had rated this beer fairly well, but this year I didn’t much care for it. It poured a deep amber body with a slightly foamy white head. The taste was roasty malts upfront which transitioned into a moderately spicy, somewhat boozy finish. A bit of vanilla rounds out the booziness as the beer warms, and finding out later that this was rum barrel aged makes a lot of sense. Mouthfeel was creamy and lightly carbonated, well suited to the flavor profile, but unfortunately this beer just never really came together for me.
It wasn’t part of the blind tasting, but a dishonorable mention also goes to Steadfast Brewing Company for their Pumpkin Spiced Ale. This is a gluten free beer my wife had picked up to enjoy with me but wow did this miss its mark. Spices were way out of balance and it tasted like drinking a strong blend of fall potpourri and nothing about it even remotely suggested that it was a pumpkin ale. She took a sip, I took a sip, and then I am sorry to say we poured it out. This is certainly saying something as we have joined forces to power through some pretty rough gluten free beers. Disappointing for sure.
So, the rankings after this tasting debacle are as follows:
Upper Tier Beers (Best of the Best)
Second Tier (Good but not the Best)
- Dogfish Head Brewing – Punkin Head
- Brooklyn Brewery – Post Road Pumpkin Ale
- New Holland Brewery – Icabod Pumpkin Ale
Third Tier (The Average)
- Captain Lawrence Brewing Company – Pumpkin Ale
- Two Roads Brewing Company – Roadsmary’s Baby
Bottom Tier (Never Again)
- Southern Tier Brewing Company – Pumking
- Steadfast Brewing Company – Pumpkin Spiced Ale