Pumpkin Ale Taste Test
October 8, 2012
KBC Pumpkin Ale
From the Kennebunkport Brewing Company, this pumpkin ale was deemed for pie lovers only, thanks to the abundance of cinnamon and nutmeg. "There’s so much spice I’m confused," said one editor. But it’s the one beer that was granted seasonal status by our editors. "It’s Thanksgiving in a glass," said another. We’ll keep this one on the shelves until then.
Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
The Smuttynose ale is made with "natural" pumpkin purée, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves — but what stands out about this ale is the hops. Made with cascade and liberty hops, it has a much more bitter taste than the other ales — splitting the office’s votes. Those who love hoppy brews quickly found a favorite in this brew, while those expecting a sweeter taste were disappointed. As one editor noted, "It’s the beer drinker’s choice."
Southern Tier Pumking
Another ale with pumpkin pie notes, rather than just plain pumpkin, but it was quick favorite for those who love sweet beers. The scents of caramel and the sweet, creamy taste quickly won over our editors; Southern Tier also notes hints of malts, vanilla, and pie crust. Still, its hoppy finish kept beer lovers happy. "At least this one tries to taste like pumpkin," said one editor. Others disagreed, saying the overpowering caramel and vanilla notes overrode the pumpkin — and that there was little to no pumpkin taste at all. "At least it’s a conversation piece," noted another editor. And this offering, in 22-ounce bottles, rather than the traditional six-pack, could be enough for dessert for two.
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
Fun fact: The Punkin Ale is named after a Delaware tradition: the Punkin Chunkin, a pumpkin-throwing contest. Because why not? Fun aside, the Punkin Ale tasted fairly sweet to our editors (Dogfish Head notes the brown sugar, malt, and caramel flavor notes.) Some of our editors picked up on the hints of coffee, cocoa, and other spices. But several noted a syrupy, artificial taste to the brew as well. The Punkin Ale is brewed with pumpkin meat, organic brown sugar, and other spices, which may have accounted for our editors' notes.
Captain Lawrence Pumpkin Ale
Said Captain Lawrence’s owner Scott Vaccaro in a release unveiling the new crop of pumpkin ales, the Captain Lawrence Pumpkin Ale is made from 4,000 pounds of pumpkin purée from All Puree in Newburgh, N.Y. But that doesn’t mean it showed up on our editors' taste buds. Despite the lack of pumpkin flavors, our tasters seemed to like the not-too-sweet flavor and its "sessionability" (at 5.5 percent ABV). "It has a 'light beer' sort of feel," noted one editor. Although Captain Lawrence says the notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice come through in the flavor profile, our editors noted that those spices were seemed to be what was missing from the brew.
Post Road Pumpkin Ale
Brooklyn Brewery described the beer as having an orange amber color, pumpkin aroma, and a crisp finish, but our editors weren’t having any of that. One called it "the Bud Light pumpkin beer," and most editors noticed a lack of bouquet and a watery taste. But it did have a harvest, autumnal taste, noted tasters.
Blue Point Pumpkin Ale
There were a few elements that killed the Blue Point for our tasters: the aroma (what one editor called "an offensive scent"), and the pumpkin taste felt skimped over. "Just because it’s a pumpkin beer doesn’t meant the base beer should be boring, but it is," said one editor. Still, another editor said it was a balanced beer despite its "middle of the road" status.