This past weekend, we had six of our very best friends over for a Pumpkin Beer Festival. We all provided a couple pumpkin beers, and we had a taste test. Jesse bought a bunch of snacks, the kids were all put to bed, and we all got to tasting.
We had a 5 point rating system, but we could award half points if necessary (so really a 10 point rating system, but who’s counting). As the night wore on, we discussed that it should have been a more specific scale, but it is what it is. Next year, we’ll adopt the following scoring guide:
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.
But, like I said, we didn’t use this scale, so each of us had our own individual scale, which, I suppose, would still provide accurate results, as long as each of us stuck to our own individual scale.
Here was our process:
- Pour each person a taste of one beer.
- Drink taste of beer.
- Score beer.
- Average scores.
As it turned out, we had two of the first beer we tried, so we went back to it in the end to ensure accuracy (given the fact that beer tasting tends to alter states of being, the more beer is tasted). This will prove to you the efficacy of our process, given the following results.
- The Great Pumpkin by Elysian Brewing. Score: 4.714. This was by far our favorite beer. Elysian is doing something right with all their pumpkin beers. They should be, since they make so many of them. The pumpkin-ness was perfect, and it was easy to drink with smooth flavors and an excellent aftertaste.
- Pumpkick by New Belgium. Score: 4.357. This was the first pumpkin beer that I ever liked. As a wise beer expert once said, “It tastes like Thanksgiving in a bottle.” Yes, folks, truer words were never spoken. I love the hint of cranberry, the undertones of lemongrass. This is a pumpkin beer for the people.
- Pumpkin Patch Ale by Rogue. Score: 4.285714. The thing I liked most about this beer was the almost champagne-like fizziness. I also like that it’s from Oregon, making it the first of our local beers to make the list. Third place isn’t a bad finish for our beer loving state.
- Big Black Jack by Oakshire. Score: 4.0714. The first Eugene beer on the list! I’ve always loved Oakshire, so I’m happy to see it doing so well on our highly prestigious Pumpkin Beer Fest List. Jesse describes this beer as “a walk down a dark, shadowy trail in the forest.” Couldn’t have said it better myself!
- Punkin Ale by Dogfishhead. Score: 4.000. This was one of my favorites. It was easy to drink, and had a lovely pumpkin-ness. Jesse didn’t like it at all, but I think it’s because he had just had a handful of sour-cream and onion corn puffs (not well known as being a palate cleanser). I also really liked the label, but that didn’t factor into my scoring.
- America’s Original Pumpkin Ale by Buffalo Bill’s. Score: 3.857142. This beer claims to be the original pumpkin beer (as seen in the name), and that might be true, but I would bet that some home-brewers tried it first. This was certainly the most pumpkin-pie tasting beer of the bunch. The pumpkin was very strong, but not unpleasant.
- Squash Buckler by Fort George Brewery. Score: 3.5714. This was our first beer, when our palates were clean, our blood was pure, our anticipation high. It was good, but not amazing. This beer didn’t taste like pumpkin at all, oddly.
- Squash Buckler by Fort George Brewery. Score: 3.07142515. This was our last beer, when our palates were buzzing, our blood was pumping, our anticipation satiated. It was still good, but still not amazing. But, our rating system was proved successful to within a half a point.
- Pumpkinhead by Shipyard. Score: 2.500. Neither Jesse, nor I, can remember anything specific about this beer, so that’s a pretty good description for why it’s scored to low.02
- Imperial Pumpkin Sleigh’r by Ninkasi Brewing. Score: 1.280. A disappointing finish for another Eugene beer. This was the worst beer by a landslide. Just look at that score. More than a whole point lower than the number nine beer. It didn’t taste good, and we were a bit offended by the feeling that it was a bit of a cop-out. You can’t just add pumpkin to your winter seasonal and expect people to be amazed.
There you have it, folks. What do you think of our rankings? If you hold your own Pumpkin Beer Fest, let me know how your ranking shape up!