Total Electric Wizard weather the day of this fest. Dismal, damp, bleak, and an hour plus line just to get inside because of the one-in, one-out policy. If the girl who was dressed up as a French stereotype reads this, we wanted to find you and bludgeon you with your baguette once we got inside because you thought it was, “oh so clever” to have your man-friend stand in line, while you and your horde of ladyfriends sat inside a nearby pub, nice and warm, until you all flocked to join him when he was up at the admission table. Seriously, all of the cutters were these kids in elementary school:
It was $10 to get in, which we thought included samples, but it included a pint glass for drinking out of. I’m kind of fed up with this tasting format dominating the market lately. The samples were paid for via tickets which you paid for in cash, we kept alternating 24 tix for $30, and on average a sample was one ticket, two if the beer was a higher alcohol content, per a 4 oz. pour, and clearly the price went up with the size pour you wanted. The higher alcohol beers were only poured in a max of 4 oz.
Having tried so many beers, it would take ages to review them all. So I figured I would do my top best, worst, and “novelty,” beers So here goes:
CBC El Mariachi, 4% alc/vol: I think when I first walked in, I said I wasn’t going to try any pumpkin stouts. However, this beer was one of my favorites. It’s infused with a mole blend of ancho and chipotle peppers, cacao nibs, cinnamon sticks, and “more.” The write-up described it as hot, but there was no spice to it at all. Rather it had the odor of chocolate cake as opposed to pumpkin, there was a strong taste of unsweetened chocolate. It was creamy, had a great head, and was one of my favorite beer experiences.
CBC Punjabi Pumpkin, 5.5% alc/vol: I love Indian food and pumpkin soup, both of which were inspirations for this brew, so how could I turn down a Punjabi beer? The beer was brewed with pumpkins, and lightly spiced with curry. It had a squash-like taste, with a light curry odor. The cumin was noticeable, but faint. It left a wonderful curry aftertaste. Because of the savory nature of the beer, this would be good with a sweet dessert.
Southern Tier Brewing Company Pumpking, 8.6% alc/vol: I am sorry I skipped over you for any other beer. I want you to forgive me. I want to turn back time, to the beginning of the season, and spend every chilly fall night in bed with you, clutching your bottled form, running my lips over your (bottle) neck. This Imperial Pumpkin Ale is sweet, and doesn’t have an alcoholy taste, despite the content. It is not very hoppy, boasting a strong malt base, but remains crisp. It is carbonated very well, and has a wonderful vanilla and pumpkin taste that lingers in the mouth long after the sip is over.
Nøgne Ø PUMPKIN, 7% alc/vol: If this is what people mean when they say, “Tonight we drink in Valhalla!” then count me out. This Norwegian beer tasted just like an IPA, no hint of pumpkin or spices. If it was marketed as an IPA, it would have been a great beer. But as a pumpkin or spiced beer, it fell terribly short.
Stone Brewing Co. La Citrueille Celeste de Citricado, 5% alc/vol: Citrueille means pumpkin, so one would expect this beer to taste like pumpkin. However, the pumpkin isn’t that noticeable at all. It would be like calling marinara sauce “salt” sauce because it was made with a hint of salt. The use of the ingredients in the title was misleading. It was very hoppy, and despite being made with pumpkin and yams, all I tasted was the fenugreek, lemon, and birch portion of the ingredients.
The beers in this category weren’t “yum” or “yuck,” but were more artistic seeming beers? Kind of like when a chef paves a new avenue with cuisine, or a band releases something that you just can’t compare to anything else. True brew creativity!
Silver City Brewing Co. Punk Rauchen, 6.5%alc/vol: If it tastes like bacon, smells like bacon, then it must be…Punk Rauchen. This beer tasted like the liquid smoke flavoring you get on Whoppers. Still, it was worth it to try bacon beer, even if it was unintentionally flavored as such.
Elysian Brewing Company Coche de Medianoche, 7.5% alc/vol: The description for this said, “muy interesante!” and it definitely was. This ale is Mexican-themed, made with cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, chilies, epazote, pumpkin seeds, and ursa orange. With so many spices, it’s no wonder that the taste and aroma were incredibly strong. The smell of cumin dominated the beer, and the black pepper could be felt at the end of the sip and left an after-burn in the back of your throat. I think this beer would be excellent with a thick, cream-based bisque, as the two flavors would complement each other wonderfully. After drinking this beer, I had to get my glass rinsed out because it smelt like taco seasoning.