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It’s The Great Pumpkin Ale Roundup!

I feel like Linus, only I’m the ambassador of great pumpkin BEER.  In my earlier Pumking review, I shared my affinity for pumpkin beers.  I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled, and thanks to Tyler, I have amassed seven more pumpkin beers to try!  Rather than spread these over seven reviews, I’m going to hit you with them all at the same time.  Each beer will get its own box score and then I’ll rank order them at the end.

I had high hopes for all of these brews, some delivered, and unfortunately others did not.  I thought that my criteria for enjoyment would center on taste and aroma, which we know are two sides of the same coin.  I was surprised to find that mouthfeel played such a large role in how much I liked the beers.   Mouthfeel is simply the texture of the beer in your mouth.  It may seem silly to talk about texture when discussing a liquid, but when I hear viscosity, I think Valvoline.  If you’d like to see for yourself the different textures available in beer, try a Michelob Ultra followed by just about any stout or porter.

Enough with the discussion and on to the beers!

In no particular order, the brews are:

  • Pumpkin Ale from Blackstone, 5.1% ABV
  • Post Road Pumpkin Ale from Brooklyn Brewery, 5.0% ABV
  • Pumpkick from New Belgium, 6.0% ABV
  • Out of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter from Redhook, 5.8% ABV
  • Pumpkin Ale from Schlafly, 8.0% ABV
  • Harvest Pumpkin Ale from Samuel Adams, 5.7% ABV
  • Pumpkinator from St. Arnold (2012), 10% ABV

Blackstone pours a golden amber and has a white, bubbly head that disappears quickly.  The aroma is faintly spicy.  The mouthfeel is thin.  The taste has hints of pumpkin, but is more bitter and yeasty than most beers in this genre.  5/10

Post Road pours a golden amber color and also has a white, bubbly head that disappears quickly.  The spicy smell is more pronounced than the Blackstone.  Mouthfeel is also thin.  The taste is faintly pumpkin spicy, but is heavily hopped and quite bitter.  This pumpkin ale might appeal to IPA fans, but not to me.  4/10

Pumpkick pours a golden amber color and also has a white, bubbly head that disappears quickly.  The aroma is spicy yet fruity.  The mouthfeel is moderate and much nicer than Blackstone and Post Road.  There is a medium amount of pumpkin spice, but you can definitely pick up the cranberry as advertised.  As you would expect, there is a bitterness from the cranberry, but it is strangely pleasing in this configuration.  Not a bad beer, but not my favorite pumpkin ale.  6/10

Redhook’s Pumpkin Porter pours a dark chocolaty color, as you would expect from a porter.  It has a nice, thick, creamy head.  The pumpkin spice smell is pronounced with a faint soapy aroma in the background.   The mouthfeel is thicker than the previous three beers, with light carbonation.  The taste of pumpkin spice takes a back seat to the roasted coffee flavors of the porter.  A nice change of pace from the ales in this review and definitely worth a try for those who like porters.  7/10

Schlafly’s pours a caramel color, with another quickly dissipating white head.  The aroma is pumpkin pie, all the way.  It has a delicious, thick mouthfeel, worthy of a pumpkin pie.  The taste is very pumpkin, with the spices shining but not overpowering.  At 8% ABV, you would expect to taste the alcohol, but it is tamed by this delicious beer.  I’d put this one up near the Pumking!  8/10

Harvest Pumpkin Ale  pours a dark caramel color with a quickly dissipating taupe head.  The aroma is faintly spicy with cinnamon being the most prevalent smell.  The taste is faintly pumpkin but the cinnamon and nutmeg are more pronounced.  The mouthfeel is moderate and pleasing.  This is a solid pumpkin ale, readily available and definitely enjoyable.  If you’re new to pumpkin ale, this would be a good one to start with.  7/10

And now, the Pumpkinator.  It poured a dark chocolate brown with a creamy tan head.  The pumpkin and spice aroma are evident, but not overpowering.  The mouthfeel is thick and rich, with just a touch of carbonation.  And the taste, oh, the taste.  This is a pumpkin ale that doesn’t hide the pumpkin behind the spice.  There is a very nice balance of pumpkin with cinnamon and nutmeg, with a hint of roasted malt.  If I could only have one pumpkin ale, this would be it.  Best of luck finding this gem and if you do, get several.  This is a beer that will keep and be just as delicious the next year.  10/10

In summary, I’d recommend all of the beers below other than Blackstone and Post Road.  If you haven’t ever tried a pumpkin ale, what are you waiting for?