3 for 1 Pumpkin Brew Fest (2019, 2021, 2022)

Last night we gathered in person and online to taste some of 2022’s Pumpkin Beers. We tried some classics, and we tried some new ones. It was a wild ride.

I also found the notes from 2019 and 2021, so I’m adding those results on this post, too. For years past follow these links: 20202018201720162015

Our scale remains:

5 points:  I would drink more of this RIGHT NOW, and never want to drink anything else.
4 points:  I would totally drink this again and again.
3 points:  I would drink this if someone offered it to me, but probably wouldn’t buy it.
2 points:  Would drink if the only choices were this and Bud.
1 point:  Nope. Not ever again.

Though, this year we had a pretty thorough discussion about the efficacy of our scale and how we need to be more specific about if we’re rating it as a beer, a pumpkin beer, or a pumpkinbeer. Next year we might need to overhaul our rating system, but that’s next year Carolyn’s problem.


Isn’t it strange to look back at memories of late 2019 and see how young and innocent we all were? We didn’t know that it would be our last in-person Pumpkin Brew Fest for a few years. We didn’t know anything. Anywho.

Here are the ratings and observations.

  1. Elysian’s Night Owl (fresh) – 4.3571. Mild flavor, classic pumpkin spice, easy drinking.
  2. Trader Joe’s Howling Gourds – 4.3125. Smell fantastic, sweet, dessert, pumpkin gingerbread cookies.
  3. pFriem’s Pumpkin Bier – 4.2857. Almost a cider, bright & effervescent. Pumpkin or Belgian?
  4. Elysian’s Night Owl (aged) – 3.9286. More subtle and refined. Chunky.
  5. Elysian’s The Great Pumpkin – 3.6875. Pumpkiny, caramel, starts syrupy.
  6. Elysian’s Dark o’ the Moon – 3.5000. Uncanny how good Elysian is at these. Thick but not syrup or motor oil.
  7. Elysian’s Punkaccino – 3.5000. Coffee pumpkin mix.
  8. Prairie Artisian Ale’s Basic Becky – 2.7142. Oklahoma beer, pumpkin blood, goosebumps in a bad way, small sips.
  9. McKenzie Brewing Co’s Pumpkin Ale – 2.7142. Tastes like a pumpkin, metallic, fresher, like biting into frost bitten pumpkin. Just beer with pumpkin.
  10. Oakshire’s Big Black Jack – 2.5625. Burnt.
  11. Ghost Fish Lunar Harvest (gluten free) – 2.2857. Really fun description, metallic, spice smell, not a lot of flavor? Good art.

We also had a couple extras, so we did a blind taste test (I can’t remember how this worked), but in my notes it shows that Night Owl Blinded earned 4.1 and Howling Gourds Blinded earned 3.5.

2021 (the year we shared our strong opinions):

2021 felt a bit more normal that 2020, but we still weren’t all together in person (the Eugene crew got together, but the Bend friends didn’t make it, so they zoomed in). You can tell by our salty comments below that we weren’t quite as innocent as in previous years.

Ratings and notes.

  1. Elysian’s The Great Pumpkin – 3.916(repeating of course). Balance of spice. Very clean. Almost licorice aftertaste.
  2. Elysian’s Night Owl – 3.83(repeating of course). Rich and deep. Classic for a reason. Grandma’s homemade pumpkin pie.
  3. pFriem’s Pumpkin Bier – 3.714285(repeating of course). “I kind of taste the pumpkin for the 1st year!” Most bubbly – champagne yeast? Bubbly but not impressed. Underwhelming. No Pumpkin.
  4. Prairie’s Pumpkin Kerfluffle – 3.625. “Party in my mouth.” I don’t taste marshmallow,” “I do at the beginning…,” “I do at the end!” “Tastes like gingerbread – makes me want to build gingerbread houses.” Sour pumpkin beer shouldn’t be good, but it’s good.
  5. HUB’s Great Gourds of Fire – 3.25. Good and drinkable, but no pumpkin. “I’d think it’s like a red ale.” Fire roasted pumpkin. “I do like it, but unpumpkiny.” Unremarkable.
  6. Elysian’s Punkaccino – 3.25. Coffee forward. There’s lactose, do human breasts make lactose? Dr. Jacque then explained if human breasts make lactose.
  7. Rogue’s Pumpkin Patch Ale – 3.0714. Most pumpkin ale. Improved – it used to taste like licking a pumpkin. It’s good.
  8. Trader Joe’s Howling Gourds – 2.875. Very spiced, almost syrupy. Discussion on how Trader Joes does things well, but too spicy (food, not beer). Kick in the face of pumpkin spice. Good value.
  9. McKenzie Brewing’s Pumpkin Ale – 2.875. Very smooth and easy. Pumpkin pie from Costco – a step up! (I think this is in reference to comments made on Laurelwood’s Pumpkin Ale, see below).
  10. New Belgium’s Atomic Pumpkin – 2.7. Cinnamon! “Really spicy, burning my lips.” Way too spicy. Don’t catch any spice. Delicious spicy and pumpkin.
  11. Great Divide’s Pumpkin Ale – 2.7. Metal. No pumpkin spice. Tastes like seed. Lipton tea. God awful poison. “I guess I don’t taste the lipton.” Smells like a patch. Less this. Candle inside pumpkin.
  12. Laurelwood’s Pumpkin Ale – 2.5. Just tastes like a beer. Banana-y. Pumpkin pie you’d get from Sharri’s.
  13. Elysian’s Dark o’ the Moon – 2.214285. Burnt piece of wood. Campfire. Thick, too much. Cinnamon Stick. Heavy duty. Like the werewolf.
  14. Ghost Fish’s Lunar Harvest (gluten free) – 1.8. Oooh, that’s weird. You can really taste the millet. “I feel like I’m out on the range. As a horse.” It’s good.


For 2022, we still had our Bend friends zooming in, but all of us Eugene folks had dinner and beers together. Technology has been pretty good about keeping people connected during the pandemic, but I’m pretty hopeful that next year will be all in person all the time!

  1. Elysian’s The Great Pumpkin – 3.916(repeating of course). Solid. All the best attributes of pumpkin and regular beer. Yeah. The Pumpkin Beer that everyone else went off of to create their own. It’s like a pyramid and it’s at the top and everyone else is under. If I laid down with a pumpkin beer, this is the pumpkin beer I would have laid down in. Funnest. Not natural – neither a good beer or a good pumpkin beer.
  2. pFriem’s Pumpkin Bier – 3.625. Carbonated beer. Really good beer. Beer flavored LaCroix. It’s a good Belgian beer.
  3. Elysian’s Night Owl – 3.42857142857. A little chunky. Spicier. Goof flavor. No chunks. Fine, but neutral. Unremarkable. It’s got pumpkin & it’s got beer.
  4. Elysian’s Punkuccino – 3.416(repeating of course). Not coffee enough. Thin & bubbly. Good to try early in the night instead of at the end.
  5. Dog Fish Head’s Punkin Ale – 3.125. Pretty standard, but really good for a standard. “Like crawling into bed with grandma after a long day of racketball and she made you a ham sandwich.” Pennies, metallic nose. “Like week 4 or 5 on campus, blue skies, but going to rain next week, and the leaves are changing, and I’m on my way to lunch.”
  6. Rogue’s Pumpkin Patch Ale – 3.0. Not remarkable, not bad. “I wouldn’t choose this as an example of a pumpkin beer.”
  7. Trader Joe’s Howling Gourds – 2.875. Smells like pie. This tastes like the flavor that gives pumpkin spice a bad rap. Strong pumpkin spice flavor. Christmas ham with cloves poked into it. Tastes like Trader Joe’s pumpkin pancake mix. Basic bitch. Pumpkin candle – like taking a bite of a Yankee pumpkin candle. Not complex – but a good example of a pumpkin beer. “It’s what I’d give to someone if I wanted to show them what a pumpkin beer is.” Very polarizing.
  8. Elysian’s Dark o’ the Moon – 2.3(repeating of course). Pumpkin spice chocolate. So syrupy. Bitter. “Just got done playing in the snow, wrap up in a warm blanket and this is what I want.” Maybe this would be more enjoyable as a warmed, mulled beer?
  9. Left Hand Brewing’s Pumpkin Spice Latte on Nitro – 1.83(repeating of course). Fish. Smells like fish. Tastes like fish. Oh, now I’m getting the fish. Ginger, nutmeg, lemongrass? Pepper? “Tastes like something I can’t quite place.”

Pumpkin Beer Fest 2020

Better late than never, I thought it would be good to get the results from 2020 on the internet before we embark into our 2021 beer fest next month. We had a beer fest in 2019, but I never got it on the blog and can’t find the written notes. I’m pretty sure pFriem won, but that’s off the record. Here’s 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015

Obviously we were online last year for the tasting. To make it easy, we just shared an Elysian pack and added the pFriem – we got a lot of our winners together that way.

Our scale remains:

5 points:  I would drink more of this RIGHT NOW, and never want to drink anything else.
4 points:  I would totally drink this again and again.
3 points:  I would drink this if someone offered it to me, but probably wouldn’t buy it.
2 points:  Would drink if the only choices were this and Bud.
1 point:  Nope. Not ever again.

Here are our ratings along with our anonymous tasting notes.

1st Place: Night Owl. 3.92857

  • 1st pumpkin beer all year – like a pumpkin tart
  • Not too sweat & syrupy
  • Spiced, but not spicy
  • Supple profile

2nd Place: The Great Pumpkin. 3.857142

  • Light & Fresh, like a crisp fall day
  • Tasty, less fragrant, less pumpkiny
  • Bitter, savory

3rd Place: pFriem. 3.357142

  • Fizzy, not pumpkiny at all
  • Champagne of beers
  • No aftertaste
  • Clean
  • Winter ale
  • Like it, but not pumpkin beer

4th Place: Dark o the Moon. 3.285714

  • Less syrypy, Christmasy
  • Chocolate and smooth
  • Crawl into bed with Grandma on Christmas Eve morning

5th Place: Punkuccino. 2.642857

  • Coffee, dirty, syrypy, smells nice
  • Not as good as remembered
  • Good for what it’s going for
  • Crawl into bed with Grandma on Thanksgiving morning

SEPTEMBER 2019: Currently

reading Shadow of Night.

listening to my Autumn Spotify playlist.

watching Veronica Mars with Jesse and Madame Secretary by myself.

working on back to school projects and programs.

watering my plants almost everyday (big accomplishment for me!).

drinking all the tea and sparkling water.

getting excited to order some December Daily supplies tomorrow.

loving the magical color changing leaves.

wondering how in the world I have a 1st and a 2nd grader.

hoping that both kids have good school years.

enjoying my first day of an empty house.

anticipating the moment my house fills back up this afternoon.

wishing we had had a smoother start to the school year.

trusting that it can only get better.

advocating as much as we can for our kids.

heading to the bus stop now.

Dear Harriet, Age 6

Dear Harriet,

This week you turned 6, and seem to have changed overnight. I hope I can always remember the way that you tell stories these days, with so much expression, and grown-up inflections. Your dad and I are often stealing glances at each other while you’re talking, with our looks saying ‘can you believe this girl? where did she come from? when did she grow into this precocious little thing?’ You crack us up with your voices and ways of telling stories.

You fiercely love, and I love that so much. Your main focus of that love is your big sister. While she was camping on your birthday, I think you said at least 50 times how much you wished she was home with us. When she got home, you dashed to her with so much excitement. You also love your friends, and have proven your loyalty time and time again this year. You hate injustice and are quick to point it out. Even though you were one of the youngest (maybe the youngest) in your class, you didn’t let anyone push you (or anyone else) around, and while this can get you in trouble in kindergarten, I think this will serve you well as you grow up.

Your imagination is unparalleled. You journey to Paperland, where you’re the queen. You always have your oohaahs and bears with you, even though some of them keep dying. You are always ready to suggest some imaginative game to play with your sister and friends. You make detailed plans and truly believe that you can make them happen.

You can be stubborn, but just because you know what you want, and you know when you want it, and that doesn’t always fit with the reality of your situation. For that I apologize, I wish we could always go at your pace and your comfort level. As you grow up, you’ll understand this and gain more flexibility and I’ll figure out ways to gain more patience.

As you turn 6, and get ready for 1st grade, I want you to know how impressed I am with you, how proud I am of you, and how excited I am to watch you grow up. Please keep sharing all the wonderful ways you see the world. Please keep running to me with hugs and kisses. Please keep asking for one more hug and kiss when I tuck you in, because you ‘forgot’ the first ones. Please keep imagining your unique worlds. Please keep wanting to hold my hand. Please keep loving fiercely. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I love you, my sweet Hattie girl.

All my love,