I know that this is post everyone has been waiting for! Let’s get right to it!
This year, we had all the original tasters together again! Yay! No wind storms kept people from Bend, no family birthday parties kept people away, no gut issues kept people from imbibing! It was darn near perfect to have our best friends all in one place.
As with 2017, 2016, and 2015, we used a 5 point scale (allowing for half points, thus rendering it into an effective 10 point scale) using the following rubric:
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.
Again, we discussed if we rate on a pumpkin-ness scale, and again, we decided to leave it up to the taster.
This year we had 10 beers and threw 2 ciders in for the heck of it. We’re wild like that.
Here we go… CHEERS!
1st Place- The Great Pumpkin by Elysian Brewing: 4.5 points. This is a classic pumpkin beer that has been in our top 4 (earning 1st place in 2015, even!) every single year we do this. As always, Elysian was a stand-out in the pumpkin beer universe. This is just a good, smooth pumpkin beer. Spiced but not too much, pumpkin but not too much.
2nd Place- Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin by New Belgium: 4.0 points. This one was spicy! I didn’t actually really like it, but everyone else did and the score reflects this. I think some people actually gave it a 5. This beer is brewed with habanero and other chilies and spices. It isn’t kick you in the face spicy, but it does leave a hot feeling down the back of your throat. It’s different that the usual pumpkin pie spice beer and that’s fun.
3rd Place- Night Owl by Elysian: 4 points, then 3.5 points, so an average of 3.75 points. This was the beer we used to test our rating system and our tasting apparatus – we tatsed it at the beginning of the night and rated it at a 4, then again and it scored a 3.5. I still like this one. It’s a good pumpkin pie, good spiced taste. Any way you look at it, this beer placed 3rd.
4th Place- Punkuccino by Elysian Brewing: 3.3888 points. This is a darker beer with a good hint of Stumptown coffee to it. You can taste the roast, but it didn’t taste burned and bitter. Elysian does it again with a good batch of Punkuccino.
5th Place (tie)- Dark Knife by Elysian: 2.9375 Points. At 4.3% ABV, this is a smooth drinking pumpkin beer. It was unique to our test as a German Schwarzbier, and I liked it. Elysian does it again for 2018, rounding it out with four of our top 5 beers!
5th Place (tie)- Pumpkin Spice by Portland Cider Company: 2.9375. This was the good cider of the year. It tasted like a good, crisp, apple cider, with just a hint of all the pumpkin spices. It wasn’t too sweet, and our team seemed to really appreciate that about it. While I wouldn’t really say it was on the same level of the pumpkin beers, according to our scale, we would all drink this with no problem.
6th Place (tie)- Imperial Pumpkin Porter by Epic Brewing: 2.8125. I think I sort of liked this one, but it didn’t knock our socks off. I don’t remember much about it, which tells me it wasn’t amazing and wasn’t gross. So that’s good I guess.
6th Place (tie)- Jamaica Me Pumpkin by 10 Barrel: 2.8125. Again, I was disappointed by how difficult this beer was to open/ the end result of all our hard work opening the ridiculous bottle. Too syrupy sweet and weird. I don’t like rum in my pumpkin beer, thank you very much.
7th Place- Imperial Pumpkin Porter by Alaskan Brewing: 2.6875. This one tasted burnt to me. I still say that I don’t much like pumpkin porters, and I think this is why. You know when you leave the candle burning in your jack-0-lantern and it starts to burn the pumpkin and it has that really distinct smell? That’s what this tasted like to me, but with the spices added to it.
8th Place- Great Gourds of Fire by Hopworks Urban Brewery: 2.5. This was another beer that added spice, as in spicy spice, and it wasn’t as good as Atomic Pumpkin. Last year this got 2nd place and this is what I wrote, “It was also our first, so perhaps that’s why it scores so well. We’ll never know.” Maybe we do know now.
9th Place- Big Black Jack by Oakshire: 2.444444. Oh, Oakshire, how much do I want to say about you? Last year this beer got 10th place, in 2016 it got 8th, in 2015 it got 4th. What has changed so much since 2015? Well, it might have something to do with Alesong Brewing opening in 2015. Who knows.
10th Place- Hollow Jack by Two Towns Cider: 1.125. Well, this cider didn’t hit the mark at all. Way too syrupy sweet. While it had more of a pumpkin flavor than our other cider, it was hard to drink.
That’s it! Thanks for reading along again this year. I love this tradition with our friends, and I love taking the time the next day to write up all our thoughts. I didn’t realize, though, that I should start keeping tasting notes and quotes as we go to make this job a bit easier the next day. I’m getting too old to rely on my beer soaked memory. See ya next year! Happy pumpkining!