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Tapped In: Tasting notes from a pumpkin beer birthday tasting test

Professionals, don't try this at home. Amateurs? Go for it.
PumpkinBeer- PavelKant-GettyImages-1269818127
I got some friends together to drink pumpkin beer. These are our stories.

Welcome to Tapped In, a thing Brendan Kergin writes. It's about local beers and the culture (as in social behaviours, not yeast) for the people who like Vancouver's ale and lager scene, but aren't in like with it.

Because birthdays can be too much fun, this year I decided to integrate work into it, by asking/forcing friends to drink a random bunch of pumpkin beers available at a local liquor store and then share their thoughts.

By all accounts, we literally emptied the store of its entire pumpkin beer stock. So no, these aren't the best or most interesting pumpkin beers on the market right now. These are the five best ones available at the time, and one my sister decided to grab at the last minute from Vancouver. And we're going to do this in the order we drank them, since moving through seven beers kinda skews how the last few are described.

Pumpkin Oktoberfest Schadenfreude from Parallel 49

Everyone's excited about pumpkin beers at this point. For some of us, it's the first ones of the season and while some may think them gimmicky, it's a welcome variation.

Also, because it's the first one, everyone has thoughts. Jordy is a simple "I like it," while Matt gives it a much more pop culture-savvy rating: "7.5 David S. Pumpkins."

This rating system is never used again.

More helpful is Andrew's observation that this seems to be akin to P49's ever-popular Gypsy Tears, albeit with a pumpkin angle and also it's a lager, not an ale, but the two aren't dissimilar.

Most people, in the end, rank this on the higher end of the scale but agree it's not the most pumpkin-y entry.

Chocolate Pumpkin Porter Lost Souls from Parallel 49

Short story, dark and sweet, kinda like Stranger Things.

This is not a "crushable beer" as Ryan calls it, or, as my Mom (yes, she tried them too) says: "It's not wine."

She's not wrong, but somehow that doesn't matter.

More helpful is that this one doesn't lean on its pumpkin flavours either, and gets a lot more out of the chocolate and stout parts.

Away from the topic of flavours, Matt says it's the sort of beer you might impress your beer nerd friends with. None of us are true beer nerds, so none of us are truly impressed.

Pumpkin Pie Ale from Storm Brewing

Ahh yes, the pie beer. If pumpkin pie is a favourite but you're off solids, consider this beer; it's more pi-like than 3.14.

Thank you to the seven people who lightly snorted at that last joke. I see you (not in a creepy way), and it's appreciated.

I'm not going to bury this too deep, this was the most popular of the choices on the day, despite being compared to a dreaded pumpkin spice latte by my Dad.

While it was high on the pie scale, it also had a lot more of the pumpkin-ness we'd been missing in the previous pair, which is maybe why it was so popular.

Jordy gave it 7 out of 10 pumpkins for how pumpkin-y it was, but this again was a rating system we never used again.

Full Patch Pumpkin Saison from Longwood Brewery

First off, calling something "Full Patch" in a city as connected with Hells Angels as Nanaimo is is an interesting move. Bold, even.

This...was not a popular choice (sorry LB). After following the well-rounded offering from Storm, this was a lot less...well, round. More two-dimensional. It was sweet, and while that's fine for a saison, we didn't get any of the spicy, herbal goodness you might expect.

There was a chance this one had spent too much time on the shelf, to be honest.

It was pumpkin-y though!

Pumpkin Ale from Steamworks

Ok, not going to lie, this is where it's starting to get hazy and the notes...are lacking.

Everyone enjoyed a different slightly spice palate; for us this one was dominated by something more in the cardamom or ginger area.

Enjoyable and very much in keeping with the usual pumpkin beers.

Crookeder Tooth from Phillips Brewing

The memories of this are foggy and past me really screwed present me on the note-taking. Here's the full, unabridged version I wrote down:

"Pumkiny [sic]."

"Stunned mouth."

I don't know how I ended up with a "stunned mouth," but I do know next year I'll have to mount another research expedition to figure it out.

Have an idea for what in the Vancouver beer world Brendan should aim his laser-focused brai  OH, a piece of candy!  n on next? Email him via email. Here's his email address: brendan@vancouverisawesome.com. Also he's on Twitter for the 12 people still using it: @bkergin