PumpkinAles 2014

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It is that time of year again, and I have selected nine eighteen pumpkin ales for this year’s showdown.  As with last year, the seasonal pumpkin brews are plentiful.  Following my own advice from last year, I mostly utilized Total Wine and More to buy individual bottles so there is no need to commit to a full pack of what might be a dreaded PINO, the Pumpkin In Name Only brew.

I will pit these eighteen against each other, alongside one of my top two from last year (which I did commit to a pack of this year), Harpoon Unfiltered Pumpkin Ale.  All of them were good in their own right, as with last year the ranking is how good of a pumpkin ale they are.

Here they are, ranked least favorite to favorite.  More will be added as the Fall progresses (first nine are below, next nine will be integrated into the list soon).  At the bottom of the review is a list of all 31 varieties reviewed to date, ordered best on down.

 

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin

Given how good last year’s Shipyard product was, I was looking forward to this new variety from them.  But it wasn’t pumpkin-y, and frankly the taste wasn’t for me at all.

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Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

I got punked by the PINO.

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Wood Chuck Hard Cider Pumpkin

They say there is pure pumpkin in it, free of all spices to get pure taste.  But it is made with red apple cider, and I just can’t detect anything other than typical cider taste.  PINO.

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Buffalo Bill’s Brewery America’s Original Pumpkin Ale

No pumpkin flavor or spices detectable.  A decent ale, but a PINO.

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Anderson Valley Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale

Tastes a bit like drinking melted dark chocolate, okay for a thick ale but not really a pumpkin ale.

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Flying Dog Brewery The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Real dark, real bold, real tasty.  Not real pumpkin-y.

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Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company Pumpkin Hunter

Did they catch the pumpkin?  Maybe they got a piece of it, but not enough got into the bottle to make it a great pumpkin ale.  I can kind of taste the piece but it is barely in the non-PINO range.

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Blue Point Pumpkin Ale

Some aromatic and aftertaste spice hints, not a lot though.  Gets a passing grade but almost a PINO.

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Starr Hill Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter

Oops, accidentally bought a repeat from last year. Same result as last year as well.  This year they have appeared to add an addition “r” to “Boxcar” if you check out my photo of the bottle above.

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Traveler Beer Company Jacko Traveler Seasonal Shandy

Jacko Traveler is a wheat ale brewed with lemon peel, then some pumpkin added.  It tasted a bit like mixing ale with hard cider.  Interesting taste but it is a bit too cider-y (or maybe just lemon-y) for a pumpkin ale.

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Ithaca Beer Company Country Pumpkin

Nice aroma, mild pumpkin hints.

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Evolution Craft Jacques All Lantern

Unique taste, unique enough that I’m not sure if it is pumpkin-and-spices based or not. So I’ll rate it a decent non-PINO.

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RJ Rockers Gruntled Pumpkin Ale

Fruitier than others but a nice taste, seems to focus on that more than the pumpkin pie spices.  Pretty good.

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Fordham Spiced Harvest Ale

Brewed with every spice you could want so I was looking forward to this one.  It doesn’t all come out of the bottle but it is a pretty good brew.

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Southampton Publick House Pumpkin Ale

Good spices and very likable.

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Saint Louis Brewery Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

The lady at the Total Wine register said her fiance called this one “nectar of the gods” in very dramatic fashion.  I was skeptical and saved it for near the end, but it was indeed good.  Spices throughout, good aroma and taste.

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Alewerks Pumpkin Ale

Good aroma, hits with every tip of the glass.  Taste is spicy too, good flavor.

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Harpoon Unfiltered Pumpkin Ale

In a re-test of last year’s tie for top winner, still good but not the ka-pow I remember from last year so it’s going down a notch.

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Cortland Beer Company Pumpkin Ale

Fanstastic, ranks up there with last year’s UFO and Shipyard Pumpkinhead.  All the spices and flavors are there and up front.  You’ll have to look more local to NY for this one.

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Full 2013-2014 Pumpkin Ales Review Rankings, 31 Varieties Ordered by Bill’s Preference

Cortland Beer Company Pumpkin Ale

Harpoon Unfiltered Pumpkin Ale

Shipyard Pumpkinhead

Alewerks Pumpkin Ale

Saint Louis Brewery Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

Southampton Publick House Pumpkin Ale

Fordham Spiced Harvest Ale

RJ Rockers Gruntled Pumpkin Ale

Evolution Craft Jacques All Lantern

Ichabod Crandall

Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat

Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin

Saranac Pumpkin Ale

Ithaca Beer Company Country Pumpkin

Traveler Beer Company Jacko Traveler Seasonal Shandy

Wolaver’s Pumpkin Ale

Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin

Starr Hill Boxcar Pumpkin Porter

Red Hook Pumpkin Porter

Blue Point Pumpkin Ale

Long Trail Pumpkin Ale

Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company Pumpkin Hunter

Flying Dog Brewery Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

New Belgium Pumpkick

Anderson Valley Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale

Buffalo Bill’s Brewery America’s Original Pumpkin Ale

Wood Chuck Hard Cider Pumpkin

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Post Road Pumpkin Ale

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin

 

 

 

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