Time for a Pumpkin Beer Taste Test

It's that time of year, when pumpkin-flavored, -scented and -shaped merchandise invades virtually every supermarket, convenience store, coffee shop, liquor store, restaurant and bar. Pumpkins are everywhere, and each year there's more pumpkin stuff to sift through.

City of Ate wants to help you figure out which pumpkin items are worth your dollar and which ones are marketing-driven schlock. Specifically: the beer. We narrowed the pumpkin-merch taste-testing down to pumpkin flavored beers.

Pumpkin beers range in flavor from orange-hued pale ales with a dash of pumpkin flavor to strong, full-bodied brews that taste like pie. The three beers we taste tested were Buffalo Bill's American Original Pumpkin Ale, Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale and Wasatch Pumpkin Ale.

Buffalo Bills America's Original Pumpkin Ale This beer was rated the highest amongst City of Ate tasters. The beer is 5.2 percent alcohol by volume, and is brewed with baked and roasted pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. While it's not too sweet or artificial tasting, there's definitely a faint pumpkin flavor. The beer is subtle, light and refreshing. The brewery also makes an imperial pumpkin ale -- that we couldn't find -- but it too sounds delicious and pungent, an amber-style pumpkin ale that's 9.8 percent alcohol by volume. We'll keep our eyes out for it.

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale This beer is more orange (pumpkin-colored) and fuller bodied than Buffalo Bills. It's 5.6 percent alcohol by volume and described as being "brewed with a bounty of fall flavors" like vine-ripened pumpkin, allspice, cloves and nutmeg. But all of those flavors were missing. I couldn't help but think that maybe our batch was defective, so I went and bought another six pack, in the name of thorough research methodology. It, too, tasted pumpkin-less. One participant described it as tasting "like a generic English pint you'd get at a $2 pint night," and another described it as "a slightly maltier Coors Light" and "kind of boring."

Wasatch Pumpkin Ale The Utah brewery's Pumpkin Ale, at 4 percent booziness, ranked the lowest out of the three beers tasted. Unlike the Blue Moon, the pumpkin and spice flavors in this beer were overpowering. The beer, however, was very light and watery. One taster described it as tasting like "pumpkin iced tea" and another suggested "topping it with crystalline ginger and whipped cream before throwing it out the window." While it definitely wasn't a City of Ate favorite, it might have some appeal with light beer drinkers, or people who don't even like beer at all.

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