Oct 26, 2015

3rd Annual Blind Pumpkin Beer Tasting

This past weekend, we held our 3rd Annual Blind Pumpkin Beer Tasting! Every year, I like to select between 6 to 8 pumpkin beers, and invite a "panel" of friends and beer fans to come try them all, blindly, and score them to let me know which ones they liked the best. I then take their scores, and use them to compile a list my "best pumpkin beers" of that year.

This years contenders.....

Well, this past weekend, I gathered my small but honest, lively panel of friends to check out 2015's offering of pumpkin beers. Every year, I try and have a completely new group of beers to try, aside from the one that came in first the previous year. Last year, Southern Tier's Warlock Pumpkin Stout was our winner. so Warlock returned this year to defend it's title. The only other rule I try to have is at least one local beer to add into the list as well, which, this year, turned out to be a big deal!

This year, we tried 6 beers. Those beers were the aforementioned Warlock, Lakefront Brewing's
Pumpkin Lager, Tommy Knockers Small Patch Pumpkin Ale, Shipyards Smashed Pumpkin Ale, Anderson Valley's Pinchy Jeek Barl and Arizona's own Mudshark Brewing's Peaceful Pumpkin.

So, we gathered around my kitchen table, in the lavishly appointed Beer Czar Manor in Gilbert Arizona, snacked on some great pumpkin snacks (pumpkin banana bread, Pumpkin dip with gingersnaps and graham crackers, pumpkin whoopee pies, and pumpkin yogurt covered pretzels) and put about the difficult task of try, and rated the 6 beers. Here are the results with a few notes I took from the ranking sheets.....

#6. Anderson Valley's Pinchy Jeek Barl , Anderson Valley CA - This beer is aged for 6 months in Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel. This beer was pretty easily identified by more than a few of the panelists as barrel aged, even bourbon barrel aged. The poor showing by this beer was partly due to one of the guests almost disdain for this beer, and after smelling it, and taking a tiny sip, refused to even score, giving it a 0! (she obviously is not a fan of barrel aged beers!) However, even if she had scored this beer the average the rest of the guests did, it only would have moved it up one spot. It was a pretty low scoring beer all around, despite the fact that it was actually my second favorite beer we tried this evening (I am admittedly a HUGE fan of bourbon barrel aged beers)

#5 Tommy Knockers Small Patch Pumpkin Ale, Idaho Springs CO. - This beer was universal
described by all our guests as either thin, watery, and in a few cases "boring". Not a bad beer, but nothing to get real excited about it. Very slight pumpkin flavor with little other flavor to back it up. Had the Anderson Valley beer not gotten a 0, this beer would have been the lowest scoring beer of the evening, by a fairly large margin.

#4 Shipyard Brewing's Smashed Pumpkin Ale, Portland Maine.- This one comes from Shipyards "Pugsley's Signiture Series" of beers, named after their original Brewmaster Alan Pugsley. This is a sort of "spicy" complex beer that seemed to have the greatest variation in scores among the guests. Seemed a sort of "loved it or hated it" kind of beers. The good news, this beer is now available in 12 oz. bottles so you can buy a single to find out if you like it before committing to a bomber!

Tied for #2
Lakefront Brewing's Lakefront Lager, Milwaukee, WI One that surprised me, and a lot of the guests when I told them it was a lager. I asked before people knew what they were drinking, if anyone could pick out the lager, and no one could on their first try. A surprisingly flavorful, full bodied lager, with nice pumpkin spice flavors.

Southern Tier's Warlock Pumpkin Stout, Lakewood, NY The winner of last year's event, it tied for 2nd this year, so it defended its title honorably. This was universally agreed to have the best aroma of any beer we tried. It has a very sweet, spicy aroma that smells a lot like I would think someone making pumpkin candy would smell. All in all, a great pumpkin beer, and one of my favorites still.

And the winner is......

Mudshark Brewing's Peaceful Pumpkin, Lake Havasu City, Arizona! The thing I noticed most
about the scores for this beer, it was no ones highest scoring beer, but everyone scored it very well! A solid, flavorful, yet incredibly drinkable pumpkin beer. This beer smells like pumpkin pie! This beer strikes a great balance between tasting like pumpkin and spice, but still maintain it's identity as a beer.  I was extremely excited to see a local beer take the top spot this year!!

I want to thank everyone that took part in this years tasting, this is always a fun event, that I think seems to get a little better every year! Hope to see you all in 2016!

I always want to congratulate the fine folks at Arizona's own Mudshark Brewing, for being the first Arizona beer to take the stop spot in this event! That is awesome, well done!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

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