Tag Archives: The Great Pumpkin

The kings of pumpkin beer

What makes a great pumpkin beer?

Like anything subjective, it depends on personal taste.

For me, a great pumpkin beer packs a strong pumpkin flavor, a nice blend of spices (not too heavy on the cinnamon) and it smells like pumpkin. It can be a dessert beer, or one that can be downed in multiples.

The past two months, I tried every pumpkin beer I could find. (Check out these links to see the entire search: 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/).

There were some bad ones. (https://kovakscorner.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/steer-clear-of-these-five-pumpkin-beers/).

There were average ones.

And, finally, some were outstanding.

Without any further delay, here are my top five pumpkin beers.

5. The Great Pumpkin, Elysian Brewing Company

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 aroma wafts of pumpkin pie fresh from the oven. It’s on the sweet side, so keep that in mind, but the pumpkin seeds, nutmeg and other ingredients make a wonderful blend.

4. Pumpkinhead, Shipyard Brewing Company

My original favorite pumpkin beer.

My original favorite pumpkin beer.

I’ll always have a soft spot for Pumpkinhead. The smell and taste are intense. It’s no longer my favorite, but every taste reminds me of what attracted my taste buds to pumpkin beer nearly a decade ago.

3. Smashed Pumpkin, Shipyard Brewing Company

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin is one of the best presents I've ever received.

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin is one of the best presents I’ve ever received.

Shipyard outdid Pumpkinhead with this pumpkin pie in a bottle. The smell … it kept taking me back to a crowded pumpkin patch brimming with pumpkins. Not overdone. Balanced. Delicious.

2. Pumking, Southern Tier

Pumking is aptly named.

Pumking is aptly named.

Clear yet creamy, Pumking is brimming with flavor. It’s got a kick, a little sweet, a little spicy. A whole lotta awesome.

1. Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, Elysian Brewing Company

Elysian Night Owl's flavor will have you howling, not hooting.

Elysian Night Owl’s flavor will have you howling, not hooting.

Loaded with pumpkin flavor. Loaded with space. Tart. Hoppy. Oh hell, I’ll shut up. Go enjoy this king of pumpkin ales.

Best of the rest

Pumpkinfest, Terrapin Beer Company; Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Weyerbacher; Block House Brewing Pumpkin Ale, Pittsburgh Brewing Company; Jack-O Shandy, Traveler.

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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.