Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pumpkin Beerpalooza Review

This whole thing started back in August when the Jayhawk argued against buying pumpkin beer because it wasn't cold enough outside. A week later and a flip of the calendar into September, I reminded him that by the time it would be cold enough in the ATL, pumpkin beer would be a distant memory, so we picked up our first 6 pack and unknowingly, Pumpkin Beerpalooza was born.
There were just too many options to try and limiting ourselves felt confining and close-minded. We'd be the first to admit we are huge nerds (both in terms of beer and life), so with a lax form of the scientific method, we went about trying a variety of pumpkin beers (in responsible fashion). We did draw the line at trying ciders, and we obviously didn't try every pumpkin beer in existence, but we were able to slowly work our way through many of the seasonal offerings at our local store. After all that hard work, it only seemed right to share it with you, purely for educational purposes. Without further ado, here are our reviews from our 1st Pumpkin Beerpalooza.

UFO Pumpkin (Harpoon): Another great beer from the UFO (UnFiltered Offering) series. More pumpkin flavor than others, but less spicy. It has lots of real pumpkin flavor paired with an awesome unfiltered beer. We really liked this one. Available in 6 packs.
Harvest Pumpkin Ale (Blue Moon):  Lots of pumpkin-pie spice flavor, dominating the pumpkin flavor to the point where it was hard to detect. To be honest, this beer was up against some tough competition and that was really it's undoing.  Nothing was wrong with it, but it was by far our least favorite of the bunch. Available in 6 packs.
Punk'n Harvest Pumpkin Ale (Uintas): A newer to us brewery, Uintas Punk'n is very drinkable. With one of the better pumpkin flavors on this list and a lower spice level of a hint of cinnamon that's not overwhelming, it's a beer that you wouldn't mind knocking back a few. Available in 6 packs.
Pumpkinhead (Shipyard Brewing): A seasonal favorite (partially because I'm a huge homer and it reminds me of fall in New England), Pumpkinhead was a strong contender going into the 'palooza. It has a strong cinnamon flavor but in the smooth way, not the spicy-bite kind of way. Another very drinkable option that is not complicated. Lightest body on the list. Goes great with a cinnamon-sugar rimmed glass. Available in 6 packs.
Punkin Ale (Dogfish Head): The only Brown ale on the list, Punkin has both a good mix of pumpkin flavor and spice. The spices are not overwhelming and they compliment the solid pumpkin flavor. It's delicious and smells like fall. Available in 4 packs.
Pumpkick (New Belgium Brewing): When I originally read that this beer had cranberry juice and a touch of lemongrass, I was dubious. I'll be honest, I love New Belgium. It's one of my favorite breweries and I love that they push their beer in new ways, but I wasn't sure this time it was going to be a winner.  I'm happy to say, I was wrong. It works. It works really well. By far the most tart beer on our list, Pumpkick took pumpkin beer in a lighter, sour (but not too sour) beer direction. Available in 6 packs.
Smashed Pumpkin Ale (Shipyard Brewing): Previously a favorite at our house, the often hard to find Smashed version of their classic pumpkin ale is worth looking for. Big flavor combined with a mild spice level, this ale has perfect balance of nutmeg and pumpkin dominating the aroma. Both the flavor and aroma are fantastic. Very drinkable, but be mindful of the 9% ABV. It'll catch up with you. No really, it will. Available in 22oz bottles and on tap when you are really lucky.
Imperial Pumpkin Stout (Harpoon): Dark, heavy, and a higher ABV than the rest (10.5%), this stout has a strong malt/molasses flavor. Harpoon describes it as "half imperial Stout, half pumpkin ale" but I would call it all stout with a strong flavor and a hint of spicy top notes. Non-Stout or dark beer lovers need not apply. :) Available in 22oz bottles.

Do you like pumpkin beer? Any favorites we should try?

12 comments:

  1. UFO Pumpkin is my favorite, but as far as the "special" ones go, you should try Southern Tier Imperial Pumking if you can get your hands on it! It's my favorite treat this time of year. I have had a really hard time finding any pumpkin beers out here, though. Kind of a bummer.

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    1. UFO is great. It was very popular at our house. I did try Pumpking on tap and I liked it. The caramel malts were really yummy (and strong), so it probably wasn't the best pairing for pizza, but I should give it another shot. Bummer on pumpkin beers. I guess Cali doesn't really do fall??!!

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  2. Love the Shipyard Pumpkinhead. It is one of my favorite pumpkin beers. I haven't tried many of the others on the list, so I'll have to add them to my shopping list.

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    1. Do! Shipyard is great and it was kind of the inspiration for this whole event. We were looking to see if we loved others as much (and we did). Happy Shopping!

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  3. My friend and I were at the bar the other night and I told her to surprise me with a beer. She brought back a PUNK'N and holy cow was it pumpkiny! I could only drink one but I'm not a huge pumpkin fan which is probably why!

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    1. Yeah, probably not the best pick if you are not a pumpkin fan! Always worth giving new things a try though! :)

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  4. Amazing. I had to go GF Nov. 1st last year and I miss pumpkin everything so much.

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    1. That is so sad! Pumpkin season is always a fun time of year.

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  5. A cinnamon sugar rimmed glass sounds like a great idea! Why didn't I think of that. I tried Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat and enjoyed it, but it wasn't a super strong flavor, but very enjoyable :)

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    1. Last time we were in Maine, one of the places we went served the Smashed Punmpkin and the Pumpkinhead with a cinnamon-sugar rimmed glass and it was awesome. I wasn't sure at first, but it totally works. I'll keep an eye out for the Shock Top!

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  6. I like Long Trail pumpkin too. And Woodchuck Cider pumpkin is worth a try.
    I saw a pumpkin bike ride on IG that had pumpkin beer at an aid station. "needtodothisride

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    1. The Long Trail sounds good, but I think it's only available regionally. That is why I need to travel more! That ride sounds awesome. Sign me up!

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