Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Pumpkin Beer Blind Taste Showdown {Beertastic}

It's fall and you know what that means - everything is pumpkin flavored!  So, for the first Beertastic Blind Taste Showdown I thought why not pumpkin beers?

What is a Blind Taste Showdown?

Let me explain how this works.  We start with a beer that I love (the Defending Champion) and find at least five other beers of the same variety (the Challengers).  The beers are numbered and then we do a blind tasting.   We vote in 3 categories:
  1. Best of the Best
  2. Ew. No, thank you.
  3. Wild card (this time it was "Most likely to be mistake for Pumpkin Pie")

The Pumpkin Beer Showdown

It was a tough job, but someone had to choose the best of the best pumpkin beers.  That night, we had a great team of beer tasters.
Back row: Matt, Megan
Front row: Brian, Brittany, Mom and Dad
We had 11 beers (that's right, 11!!) in total.  Each one was numbered and served to us in clear numbered glasses.  My mom graciously poured each beer for us so we could stay "blind."

The Defending Champion this go around was Pumking from Southern Tier Brewing Company, but we had no idea what number it was.

We made sure to have plenty of pretzels nearby for between-taste palette cleansers.

Here are my notes on the tasting plus a few snippets of conversation from everyone:

1. Flat and overall just meh.
Brittany: This one is familiar but not familiar...
2. Smells like pumpkin bread, sweet smelling but not tasting. Reminds me of GLBC's Christmas Ale.
Brian: I'm not getting pumpkin from either of these.
3. sickly sweet, almost bitter, definitely the bitter one, frowny face.
Matt took his tasing very seriously - he was organized and had notes and stars for each beer.
4. Sweet, less bitter, yummy
Brian: Tastes like pumpkin cheesecake.
Brittany: Eh.  I have nothing to say about this one.
5. Not very pumpkin-y, but a good fall beer
I was less organized, but still took tons of notes!
6. Tastes like pine and soap, bitter, not much pumpkin taste
Brittany: They're all blurring together.
Me: What's that taste?
Brian: Band-aid.
Matt: It tastes like BO Smells.
8. Spicy smell and taste, dark
9. Watery and bitter-ish
Intense beer and pumpkin related debates.
10. EW Smell, great taste - rich and fall-like
11.  Smells good, pumpkin and citrus. Taste too citrus-y.
Dad: I think this whole pumpkin beer thing is still a work in progress.
Below is a list of all of the beers: the Defending Champion AND the Challengers along with each number they're assigned. Click any of the beer names to read all about it over at Beer Advocate:
  1. Pumpkinhead (Shipyard Brewing Company)
  2. Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale (Steven's Point Brewery)
  3. Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale (Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.) 
  4. Pumking (Souther Tier Brewing Company) 
  5. Punkin Ale (Dogfish Head Brewery) 
  6. Ichabod (New Holland Brewing) 
  7. America's Original Pumpkin Ale (Buffalo Bill's Brewery) 
  8. Imperial Pumpkin Ale (Weyerbacher Brewing Co.) 
  9. Post Road Pumpkin Ale (Brooklyn Brewery) 
  10. Spooky Tooth Imperial Pumpkin Ale (Fat Head's Brewery) 
  11. Jaw-Jacker (Arcadia Ales)

The Voting

Voting was pretty entertaining.  There were more ties than we thought there would be and it was harder than we thought!

We voted for "Most Likely to be Mistaken for Pumpkin Pie" first.  2 votes for beer #4 and 4 votes for beer #2.  

Next up was "Ew. No, thank you." It was a tie - 3 votes for #11 and 3 votes for #7... and then Dad put all of the rest of his votes in that bag.  He wasn't really a fan of the beers at all.

Our last vote was for "Best of the Best." This was also a tie - first we were split 2 votes for #1, 2 votes for #10, 1 for #3 and 1 for #4.  Then we had everyone re-taste beer #1 and #10 once more and vote on just those.  It was an evenly split tie between them - 3 for #1 and 3 for #10.

The Winners

Most Likely to be Mistaken for Pumpkin Pie - Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale (Steven's Point Brewery)

Ew. No, thank you - America's Original Pumpkin Ale (Buffalo Bill's Brewery) and Jaw-Jacker (Arcadia Ales)

Best of the Best - Pumpkinhead (Shipyard Brewing Company) and Spooky Tooth Imperial Pumpkin Ale (Fat Head's Brewery)


While Pumking may have been dethroned as the Best of the Best, it was actually my favorite.  Everyone was really surprised they picked something other than Pumking as their favorite, but that's why we did it as a blind tasting.

What surprised us even more was that we disliked so many of the beers!  That one really DID taste like how band-aids smell.  It was terrible.

We had such a great time!  I enjoyed ending the night with some pretzels and a full glass of my favorite.
Pumking.  Mmm.

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