After being sidetracked by a particularly busy week at work, it was time again to unwind with a new wave of pumpkin beers. The last batch ending on a somewhat promising note, so let’s see if that momentum called over into this set.
The first beer of the night was Pumpkin UFO by Harpoon Brewery and I am happy to say it started things off on a high note. It poured a nice cloudy orange-copper body that right off the bat had me thinking about pumpkins. The smell was sweet and slightly vegetal with a very slight hint of spice. The taste, however, is where this beer really took off for me. It had a sweet, at times caramelly, malt backbone accompanied by vegetal pumpkin and light cinnamon/nutmeg spices. It had a smooth medium body with a slightly more than moderate amount of carbonation that suited the beer perfectly. Any more carb and it would have been too much, but for me they got it just right. No doubt my favorite pumpkin beer of the year so far.
The next beer was unfortunately a letdown. It turned out to be Pumpkin Ale by Smuttynose Brewing Company and it lost me almost from the start. The amber/deep copper body wasn’t a problem, but the soapy smell backed up by strong hints of spice was a warning of things to come. The soapiness carried over into the taste and was followed up by sweet and toasty malts with an astringent allspice finish. I later drank some from the bottle to make sure it wasn’t my glass throwing off the taste, but alas, it was not. The soap did taste eventually mellow out a bit and give way to more sweetness if the beer was left to sit for a little while, but that was too little too late. This one was definitely a miss for me. Moving on.
Closing out this round was another Pumpkin Ale, this one by Blue Point Brewing Company. While it was a step up from the previous offering, it was overall pretty uninspiring. It poured a dark amber/copper body and had a foamy head that stuck around for most of the drinking experience. This beer did not have much of a smell and only a very mild taste. Sweet malts and a hint of vegetal pumpkin upfront with a nutmeg and allspice finish that was thankfully also rather muted. Mouthfeel was kind of thick with a moderate amount of carbonation that suited the beer well. I don’t know that this would have been better with proportionally bolder tastes, but as offered I found the beer somewhat lacking. Non-offensive was the word that kept coming to mind when thinking about it, which while not bad, isn’t great either. It was a non-offensive pumpkin spice beer. Meh.
With four rounds in the books let’s take a look at the updated standings:
Upper Tier Beers
- Harpoon Brewery – Pumpkin UFO: First beer to break into the upper echelon, this had a great taste profile without the mouthfeel issues that the Magic Hat brew had last time.
- Dogfish Head Brewing – Punkin Head
- Brooklyn Brewery – Post Road Pumpkin Ale
- Magic Hat Brewing Company – Wilhelm Scream Pumpkin Ale
- New Holland Brewery – Icabod Pumpkin Ale
- Captain Lawrence Brewing Company – Pumpkin Ale
- Blue Point Brewing Company – Pumpkin Ale: This was no doubt thoroughly average.
- Two Roads Brewing Company – Roadsmary’s Baby
- Smuttynose Brewing Company – Pumpkin Ale: Drinking it after leaving it to sit just barely redeemed it from banishment to the lowest tier. I’d give it another try at some point, but won’t go out of my way to do so. Ranks above Pumpkin Batch because it at least did its job as a pumpkin beer.
- Samuel Adams – Pumpkin Batch
Bottom Tier (Never Again)
- Southern Tier Brewing Company – Pumking: Still shuddering when I see it on shelves or Untappd.
- Steadfast Brewing Company – Pumpkin Spiced Ale