It’s that time of year when the leaves turn brilliant shades of orange and the weather makes you want to curl up in front of a warm, flickering hearth with a delicious seasonal drink. Oh wait…this is Los Angeles, where summer lingers all year and the only falling foliage is drought-ridden palm fronds. The only orange we experience during the fall season are blazing wild fires, sunsets/sunrises, the obnoxious Ferrari that takes our parking spot, and PUMPKINS. The start of autumn is marked by a plethora of pumpkin products hitting store shelves, the availability of pumpkin spice in our lattes (Starbucks may have jumped the gun this year—August?), and most importantly, pumpkin beer.
To pay homage to these supposed autumnal months, we decided to curate the Mother of all pumpkin beer tastings. We took the best pumpkin beers from all the “best pumpkin beers” lists from the past 3 years. We cross-referenced them, analyzed their characteristics, corroborated their stories, and wound up with the most elite, delicious, pumpkiny, pumpkin beers of the past decade. We even had a frickin’ spreadsheet! Well, we couldn’t buy most of them (dang your uppity distribution radiuses). We scrapped the list and decided to just grab what was available to us. The result? An eclectic spread of pumpkin brews ranging from ales to sours, all brewed on the western side of the United States where autumn barely whispers.
Let’s be honest, we’re no cicerones (guess that’s like a beer sommelier), but we collectively have enough beer drinking experience to be able to recognize a good brew and describe its qualities, rating it on a scale of 1 to 5. Before we began the tasting our Creative Director asked, “Are we going to talk about floral notes and shit?” No. No we are not. But being designers and all, we did feel the need to judge the label design as well as the beer. To highlight our tasting expertise and by “expertise” we mean lively “personalities”, we recorded the entire tasting session, hence the hilarious quotes found throughout. Yes, we actually said that shit. Cheers!
We began the tasting with the least alcoholic beer and planned to work our way up to the more alcoholic ones. The order was quickly forgotten after we were a few beers in.
Pumpkin aromas and flavors abound, Rogue’s Pumpkin Patch Ale satiated our pumpkin craving taste buds. A beer so smooth that the conversation drifted to a less savory part of the beer spectrum regarding malt liquor, more specifically, Steel Reserve. Don’t ask. After such a delicious beer, we were entirely unprepared for what we tasted next…one sip left the entire team spluttering.
In effort to make our pumpkin beer tasting a little more authentic, we lit the fireplace. Well, rather we found a video that promised three hours of the best fireplace on our laptop. Pair that with some choice classical music and Epic Brewing’s pumpkin porter. You can almost hear the faint whispers of autumn.
By this time we were all feeling the heat from the fireplace screensaver…or was it the booze? Doesn’t matter, we were all ready for a little more heat from Avery Brewing’s 17.22% porter aged in bourbon barrels. For dramatic effect, classical violins were singing in the background as we took our first sips.
Maybe they do need pumpkins in their beer, or perhaps yams were a substitute simply because The Bruery is located in Orange County where they don’t have legitimate pumpkin patches. Whatever the reason, we thought this beer was a perfect example of autumn in Los Angeles. Underwhelming.
These beers ended up our tasting list due to the limited availability of pumpkin beer, so would we drink most of these again? Probably not, except for Rogue’s Pumpkin Patch Ale…we will take a case of that!