Archive for oktoberfest

It’s the Great Pumpkin Beer Review!

Posted in Booze News and Events, Drink It Like a Man, What I'm Mixing with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2012 by cocktailvultures

Pumpkin Beer Review 2012


As any beer lover knows, pumpkin beers and ales have flooded the market and right now, September, is high pumpkin season. The aisles of our favorite beer store, Half Time, are crowded with pretty orange packages and dozens of leering jack-o’-lantern faces. The Cocktail Vultures love pumpkins and Halloween and it’s tempting to pull down random six-packs of everything we see. But we know that all is not equal in the pumpkin patch. For that reason, the Cocktail Vultures have provided this service to you, sacrificing a lovely late-summer afternoon under the blue skies of the Hudson Valley, tasting and comparing some samples from this year’s crop of pumpkin brews. Only the most sincerely pumpkin ale will meet our standards, which are simple: the beer or ale must actually taste of pumpkin and its related spices, and also be a smooth, tasty beer with none of the problems we’ve noted in mass-produced supermarket brands.


Your usual host and hostess, Joe and Peggy, were joined by another member of the Vulture Squadron, Peter H. Gilmore, for the difficult task of drinking cool beverages on the veranda.















1)   Shipyard Pumpkin Head — Portland, Maine.

Light with no bitterness, golden in color, this entry was more like a cider than an ale, with lots of pumpkin pie spice and the highest level of pumpkin of those we tried.










2)   Punk’N – Uinta – Salt Lake City, Utah

Attractive pumpkin color, but no pumpkin or spice flavor whatsoever. The scent was like wet bread. Not recommended.










3)   Post Road Pumpkin Ale – Utica, New York

Subtle spice gives way to a slightly smoky, incense-like flavor. The color was pretty and the head was smooth. Pleasant spiciness but virtually no pumpkin flavor.










4)   Smutty Nose Pumpkin Ale – Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Yellow in color, with no discernible spice but rather a fresh, pumpkin-patch vegetal taste. More Oktoberfest than Halloween.










5)   Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale – Golden, Colorado

A rich, coppery color with a smooth, velvety texture and head. Tastes of roasted pumpkin seeds and aged whiskey barrels. Very pleasant, seasonal pumpkin ale flavor, rather than a pumpkin pie. We were surprised and pleased to call this our favorite, as it will be easily available to our readers for weeks to come.










6)   Pumking by Southern Tier – Lakewood, New York

A strong vanilla scent greets you as the cap comes off. A pretty amber color, and then one sip gives the pronounced flavor of vanilla and pumpkiny-dessert – like a slice of pumpkin pound cake. As a beer, it’s smooth and pleasant, but is more a dessert beverage than a seasonal pumpkin ale










7)   Captain Lawrence Pumpkin Ale – Elmsford, NY

Nice copper color. No pumpkin or spice fragrance or flavors whatsoever. Metallic after-taste brought back memories of our Cheap Beer Challenge. Not recommended.










8)   Saranac Pumpkin Ale – Utica, New York

A sweet, pumpkin-pie nose gives way to the tiniest hint of spice and a bitter overall taste. Very little pumpkin – more a bitter beer than a pumpkin ale.


We wouldn’t be the Cocktail Vultures if we didn’t try to make something with the leftovers. Although these Vultures can hold our own when it comes to cocktails, too much beer gets us stuffy and sleepy, so we took small portions and poured the rest into a handy growler. When we were done, the result was an interesting “all sorts” of pumpkin ales and this might not be a bad idea. The strong spice and vanilla in one ale was balanced out by the fresh pumpkin of another, etc. Try this at home, for sure!


We’ll be back with more pumpkin ales and some Halloween beers in a few weeks – watch this space and never go to a Halloween party empty-handed. Especially not one of ours.


Always drink responsibly; always drink well.