Friday, October 17, 2014

The Easily Accessible Pumpkin Beer Guide for the Slightly Interested KC Beer Geek

Some of you may have previously known me as a pumpkin beer hater. Well, I am a hater no more. I had a change of heart after Will Gordon called me out on Drunkspin for being an angry unbalanced person for hating pumpkin beer. Ok, so maybe he didn't call me out by name, but he pretty much had me dead to rights. (By the way, you should be reading Will Gordon, he's pretty much the best beer writer of our generation.)

My pumpkin beer rage never stemmed from flavor as one might imagine. Actually, I think that pumpkin pie is one of the greatest things ever invented, and by extension anything that tastes like it. My problem was always with the seasonal beer creep that seems most extreme with pumpkin beers. I really wonder where exactly these breweries are getting their pumpkins in July? New Zealand?

Anyway, I thought I better get some of this beer and see what all the fuss is. We put together a list of pumpkin beers that you can actually go out and buy at a liquor store in KC right now. After making a complete assessment of all the liquor stores in town (at least all the ones within a mile of my house) and finding all the pumpkin beer I could, I assembled my crack team of expert beer tasters and we got to work making a completely unbiased scientific exploration of pumpkin beers.




8. Mother's - Mr. Pumpkin - 23/50


Flavor: Pumpkin
Alcohol: 5% ABV

Damn! This was the most disappointing of all of them. Mostly because I love Mother's and had my hopes set pretty high on this one. It's the most pure pumpkin and least pumpkin pie spiced beer we tried. Kind of smelled like gym socks. But I'm pretty sure this is what pumpkins actually smell like, so you can't fault them too much for it. Didn't go over well with the panel though.

Most memorable quote: "This ain't the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."
Why you're drinking it: You like drinking gourd juice.



7. Shipyard - Smashed Pumpkin - 26/50


Flavor: Pumpkin Pie Jet Fuel
Alcohol: 9% ABV

So you're sitting at Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws and it's getting pretty dull. The solution? Pull out your bomber of 9% abv Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin beer! Not only is it high in alcohol, it also tastes like pumpkin pie soaked in vodka so no one will even try to steal this from you. No false advertising here, you'll be smashed before the real pumpkin pie comes out.

Most memorable quote: "If man ever rode a pumpkin rocket into space, it would be fuelled with this."
Why you're drinking it: To get smashed.



6. O'Fallon - Pumpkin Beer - 31/50


Flavor: Pumpkin Pie
Alcohol: 5.5% ABV

So this is like the most average pumpkin beer ever. Average alcohol, average spice, average pumpkin. But hey, at least it's not offensive. It has a leg up, though, because it comes in cans. Now you can sit around with your in-laws at Thanksgiving who are drinking Busch Light out of the can and feel like you really fit in.

Most memorable quote: "Hm, I could drink it again."
Why you're drinking it: Comes in a can.




5. Buffalo Bill's - Pumpkin Ale - 32/50


Flavor: Super Pumpkin Pie
Alcohol: 6% ABV

The original, and the...best? It pretty much tastes like dessert and if you really really want some pumpkin beer, it's pretty much everywhere. I think the Buffalo Bill's Brewery must have survived all these years on this beer alone. I've literally never seen one of their other beers on the shelves. Then again, I wasn't really looking.

Most memorable quote: "Yea..."
Why you're drinking it: Most accurate portrayal of a pumpkin on the label.



4. New Holland - Ichabod - 33/50


Flavor: Mild Pumpkin Pie
Alcohol: 5.2% ABV

Another entrant into the pretty average pumpkin beer category. At least it had a pretty good aftertaste and didn't leave that weird fake-tasting slick candy feeling in your mouth that some of the other beers did. Overall, probably least offensive of all the entrants. Get this if you really don't like pumpkin beers but you're being forced at gunpoint to buy some.

Most memorable quote: "Meh."
Why you're drinking it: You like covered bridges.



3. Magic Hat - Wilhelm Scream - 37/50


Flavor: Pumpkin Pie
Alcohol: 5.4% ABV

A solid pumpkin beer. This one is on the pumpkin pie spice side, but not too over the top and not too sweet. As a bonus, it still tastes like beer. It also has the best name ever. Just try to drink this beer and not hear the Wilhelm Scream in the background.

Most memorable quote: "I could stick my tongue all up in this."
Why you're drinking it: Because you keep hearing the Wilhelm Scream EVERYWHERE.




2. Schafly - Pumpkin Ale - 37/50


Flavor: Super pumpkin pie. And amaretto.
Alcohol: 8% ABV

Schlafly's Pumpkin Ale is one of the highest rated pumpkin beers on pretty much all the beer rating websites and we happened to agree. This beer is pretty much the embodiment of liquefied pumpkin pie. Sweet, thick, and spicy. If you hate pumpkin pie, do not try this beer. And not only is it delicious, it's also 8% alcohol. Unlike the Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin, it doesn't have an overpowering alcohol aroma.

Most memorable quote: "Like liquid candy."
Why you're drinking it: Because who needs to eat pumpkin pie when you can drink it?



1. Horny Goat - Hornycopia - 39/50


Flavor: Pumpkin Pie
Alcohol: 6.3% ABV

This one definitely caught me off guard. Mostly because I've never heard of the Horny Goat Brewing Co. I almost didn't even buy it, but had to round out my mixed-6 at Rimann. Good thing I did because it's delicious. Not as sweet or strong as the Schlafly, but more subtle and balanced. And even though it's a moderate 6.3% ABV, I could definitely drink it all afternoon. At least until I pass out for my yearly 3rd quarter food coma. 

Most memorable quote: "Tastes like Thanksgiving dinner leftovers...in a good way.".
Why you're drinking it: Because I said so. 

Also, this is pretty much what we all looked like after drinking all of these. Just had to throw that one out there. 

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