Tag Archives: Saranac Pumpkin Ale

Steer clear of these five pumpkin beers

Hipster? Hardly.

Beer snob? Not exactly.

Beer critic? Prefer leaving that to the pseudo intellectuals who feel better about themselves by using fancy adjectives to describe beer. Those people should switch to wine. That’s where they’ll find others to indulge the need to flex an extensive alcohol vocabulary.

Guess what I’m getting at is it doesn’t take cuffed skinny jeans, a PhD in barley and hops or expert taste buds to enjoy pumpkin beer.

This beer lover has enjoyed a pumpkin ale for some time, but became overwhelmed in recent years when fall beers were released and a rapidly increasing number of pumpkin selections hit distributors, taverns and six-pack shacks.

This search, which began in earnest in early September, held a simple objective – to find the best pumpkin beers available. No Google searches needed. No beer web sites researched. Basically, if a pumpkin beer was available at a bar or a six-pack shack, it was purchased. Suggestions were taken from friends and family, and one cousin went as far as sending a six pack of her two favorites my way. Photos were taken of each entrant and a brief description was provided of all 28 beers sampled.

For a quick recap, check them out here:

Part I: https://kovakscorner.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/search-for-the-perfect-pumpkin-beer/

Part II: https://kovakscorner.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/search-for-the-perfect-pumpkin-beer-part-2/

Part III: https://kovakscorner.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/search-for-the-perfect-pumpkin-beer-part-iii/

Unfortunately, such a search is not without its bumps. In other words, to find the good, you have to taste the bad.

And there are some bad pumpkin beers out there, including the following five – in no particular order –  that ranked the worst during this search. (Blogger’s note: O’Fallon’s ranks as my least favorite pumpkin beer. Bought a case about 5 years ago. What a waste of money.)

It's Saranac. What else can you say?

It’s Saranac. What else can you say?

Saranac Pumpkin Ale, Matt Brewing Company

Watery, bland and lacking aroma. Saranac usually delivers an adequate brew. They missed one this one.

Bleccchhhhh!

Bleccchhhhh!

The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Flying Dog

Never had a good beer from this brewery. This gives O’Fallon’s a run for its money.

This beer had all the makings of a good one, but the taste was off. Maybe Nakama had a bad keg.

This beer had all the makings of a good one, but the taste was off. Maybe Nakama had a bad keg.

Spooky Tooth Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Fat Head’s 

Word is this beer is probably with the masses. Pop country is popular with the masses, too. That is one of the only things worse than this beer.

This beer was a bummer.

This beer was a bummer.

Pumpkin Ale, Wild Boar

There’s a new definition of bland in the dictionary – this beer.

Never tried a gluten free beer until sampling this. I prefer my gluten.

Never tried a gluten free beer until sampling this. I prefer my gluten.

Wolaver’s Pumpkin Ale 

No beer in this search tasted worse on first drink. It got better, but not enough.

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Search for the perfect pumpkin beer, Part III

Eleven pumpkin beers were sampled in the first installment. To revisit those, click here https://kovakscorner.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/search-for-the-perfect-pumpkin-beer/.

Eight more were subjected to taste testing in a second installment. Check that out here https://kovakscorner.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/search-for-the-perfect-pumpkin-beer/.

Finally, Kovak’s Corner noble work in the search for the perfect pumpkin beer hits its third edition. After this, it will be time to rank the five best and five worst.

I’m doing this for the readers. You’re welcome.

This beer, not Derek Jeter, is the best thing to come out of Kalamazoo, Mich.

This beer, not Derek Jeter, is the best thing to come out of Kalamazoo, Mich.

Acadia Ales Jaw-Jacker, Acadia Brewing Company – When I pour a pumpkin beer into a pilsner, I want it to look like Jaw-Jacker. A cloudy, reddish-brown, Jaw-Jacker has a slight transparency and the perfect hue. When I smell a pumpkin beer, I want it to smell like Jaw-Jacker, which boasts a blend of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. When I taste a pumpkin beer, I want it to taste like Jaw-Jacker, a cinnamon power punch to the taste buds. It literally make the jaw tingle, hence the appropriate name.

Bleccchhhhh!

Bleccchhhhh!

The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Flying Dog – Not sure why I picked this selection up at Johnny L’s, home of Westmoreland County’s favorite fish sandwich. I’ve never tried a Flying Dog beer I’ve liked. But the weather is cooler, making dark beer more appealing. Except this wasn’t appealing at all. Bitter. Bitter. Not good at all. And did I say bitter. Anyone that says this beer is good must be into Limp Bizkit, as that’s the crowd this brewery must want to attract with it’s “catchy” beer names and bottle art.

Technically not a pumpkin beer, this cider still delivered.

Technically not a pumpkin beer, this cider still delivered.

Pumpkin Jack Hard Cider, McKenzie’s Hard Cider – OK. I understand. Cider is not beer. Whatever. This beverage was recommended by a co-worker and diehard cider fan. Upon finding a bottle, I grabbed it. And McKenzie’s delivered. Couldn’t stop smelling the blissful combination of pumpkin and apple, like two heavyweight dessert pies rolled into one incredible drink. The taste wasn’t as intense as the smell, but still good.

I'm a sucker for a big, orange bottle of beer.

I’m a sucker for a big, orange bottle of beer.

Pumpkin Patch Ale, Rogue Farms – The name’s appropriate. This ale smells like a pumpkin patch when it’s getting close to Halloween and the patch is overrun by families. It’s a good thing and one of the more unique beverages my nose has sniffed. There’s nice hints of orange, vanilla, hops, cinnamon and nutmeg, among others. The hue is a nice reddish brown. It’s an outstanding selection.

Part of a Blue Moon sampler pack.

Part of a Blue Moon sampler pack.

Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale, Coors Brewing – Had to do it. Tried to avoid it. Yet, when looking for some friend-friendly beers for a weekend gathering, Blue Moon’s seasonal sampler pack was a safe purchase, and, of course, it included Harvest Pumpkin Ale. Originally, I wanted to avoid adding Blue Moon to this search. The reason? Blue Moon is safe. It’s never bad. It’s rarely top-shelf. It’s like Chipotle. The ale has a decent pumpkin flavor, decent smell and the background of Blue Moon. Exactly what one would expect from Blue Moon.

Blue Point Pumpkin Ale might have the dullest label in beer history.

Blue Point Pumpkin Ale might have the dullest label in beer history.

Pumpkin Ale, Blue Point Brewing Company – The first thing done when trying a new pumpkin beverage? The smell test. As for Blue Point’s pumpkin ale, there’s not much there. The aroma isn’t subtle, it’s faint. Fortunately, the taste is better than the aroma. The pumpkin flavor is faint, but subtle can be good in this genre of overpowering flavor. It tastes a little like pumpkin and a lot like ale. As for Blue Point’s ale, it;s not too shabby.

 

A rare and different brew Terrapin Pumpkinfest (Terrapin Station nod deliberate).

A rare and different brew Terrapin Pumpkinfest (Terrapin Station nod deliberate).

Pumpkinfest, Terrapin Beer Company – The idea is sheer genius. Combine a pumpkin beer with an Octoberfest beer. That’s what Terrapin Beer Company did with Pumpkinfest, a stunning combination of deliciousness. It owns a honey tint, a good amount of carbonation and the aroma of pumpkin, though spices are faint. The initial taste is pumpkin before the spice and malt kick in. This is an excellent choice.

 

This beer lives up to it;s name. Well done, Elysian. Well done.

This beer lives up to it;s name. Well done, Elysian. Well done.

The Great Pumpkin, Elysian Brewing Company – Considering this comes from the maker of Night Owl, and that it claims to be the first legit pumpkin ale, expect nothing but greatness. This award-winner delivers on all fronts – color, texture, aroma and taste. It smells like pumpkin pie. It tastes like pumpkin pie. It’s a wonderful dessert beer.

 

It's Saranac. It's ok.

It’s Saranac. It’s ok.

 Saranac Pumpkin Ale, Matt Brewing Company – Saranac is sturdy, like an aunt that always comes through with a decent, but never great, Christmas gift. Occasionally, Saranac can surprise. Rarely does it disappoint. This ale falls into the latter. The aroma, watery. The taste, watery with a hint of pumpkin and cinnamon. It claims to be spiced with ginger. These taste buds had a difficult time detecting it.