Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sipping on Spookiness: Blind Tasting Seasonal Pumpkin Beers

by Sydney "Brown Nose" Blanchard

Fall was once my least favorite time of the year. Following the freedom of the summer months where the smell of chlorine permeates the air and snowballs abound, fall was an unfriendly reminder that school would soon be back in session.

Trapped within the physical and metaphorical walls of academia, I could never fully appreciate the way the beginning of falls feels on bare legs and arms during Louisiana's slow but steady march to cooler weather. I never noticed the color of the sky change or the days shortening or the browning of the leaves.

History and literature and geography ruled my world. I was more focused on stuffing information inside my brain than shoving myself outside my apartment.

Now that I've graduated, for the first time in my memory, I will fully embrace fall and all that comes with it: chunky-knit sweaters, Halloween playlists, and pumpkin-spiced everything.

Blair and I are no strangers to the PSL, but we figured a better way to start October would be to blindly taste and rate a number of pumpkin beers. We had Jay wander over to Calandro's to pick up a mixed six-pack of pumpkin brews for us to review.

We ranked each beer on a scale from one to five pumpkins.




One pumpkin: If somebody bought it for you, you wouldn't drink it.

Two pumpkins: You would drink it if it was free, but under no other circumstances.

Three pumpkins: You'd appreciate it if a friend bought it for you, but you wouldn't buy it yourself.

Four pumpkins: You'd buy this beer and happily drink it. It's worth the money you paid for it.

Five pumpkins: You'd buy this beer for a friend and sing its praises.

Imperial Pumpkin Smash, Crown Valley Brewing

Imperial Pumpkin Smash, Crown Valley Brewing

"Bitter, I hate it. It smells like pumpkin pie, but it tastes like black coffee. Roast-y." – Sydney

"It almost tastes like a pumpkin car bomb. I love it." – Blair

Blair: 5/5
Sydney: 2/5
Average: 3.5/5

Pumpkinfest, Terrapin Beer Company

Pumpkinfest, Terrapin Beer Company

"It smells like cider and cinnamon, but tastes like PBR. Needs more pumpkin." – Sydney

"I get a lot of fall spices. I'm into it." – Blair

Sydney: 3
Blair: 3
Average: 3

Black O'Lantern, Wasatch Brewery

Black O' Lantern, Wasatch Brewery

"This is super dark. It smells creamy and smoky, like coffee. Great beer, but I don't taste any pumpkin, which is like, one of my requirements when it comes to pumpkin beer. Could be great in chili, though." – Sydney

"Yeah, I can't really taste pumpkin. It's a little disappointing." – Blair

Sydney: 4/5
Blair: 3/5
Average: 3.5/5

Pumpkinhead, Shipyard Brewing Company

Pumpkinhead, Shipyard Brewing Company

"Oh, this is very light. I definitely smell pumpkin, cider, apples. It tastes like cheap beer." – Sydney

"I get some fall flavors and spices, but it's bready at the end. Not getting any pumpkin vibes." – Blair

Sydney: 1/5
Blair: 1/5
Average: 1/5

Pumking, Southern Tier Brewing Company

Pumking, Southern Tier Brewing Company

"Wow, that's a very intense pumpkin smell. So far this is the only one that actually tastes pumpkin-y. I'm pleasantly surprised." – Sydney

"That's pumpkin candle smell. This is like, a Bath and Body Works candle. It's sweet." – Blair

Sydney: 5/5
Blair: 3/5
Average: 4

Age Old Pumpkin Stout, Crooked Letter Brewing Company

Age Old Pumpkin Stout, Crooked Letter Brewing Company

"This smells like dark chocolate and a PSL. Wait, a dark chocolate PSL would be really good. It tastes like real pumpkin and coffee." – Sydney

"It tastes like the guts of a pumpkin. In a good way." – Blair

Sydney: 4/5
Blair: 4/5
Average: 4/5

The Final Verdict

In the end, it was a toss up between the Pumking and the Age Old Pumpkin Stout. Next came the tie between the Imperial Pumpkin Smash and Black O'Lantern. Third place went to Pumpkinfest, and dead last came Pumpkinhead.

Would your ranking match ours?

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