The Halloween season is a glorious time of year, filled with beautiful fall weather and spooky tidings of great joy. But there’s a dark underbelly to the season, one that lurks beneath every caramel apple and huddled hay ride, one that hides behind every neighborhood haunted house and sexy dinosaur costume or whatever: pumpkin beer.
Does anyone actually like pumpkin beer? Someone must, because it seems there isn’t a brewery in the entire country—big or small—that doesn’t churn out some sort of pumpkin ale, pumpkin lager, or pumpkin spiced whatever-the-fuck this time of year. Is the pumpkin-flavored phenomenon an honest attempt at creating a good beer? Just another way to get in the Halloween spirit? Done out of simple obligation? Who knows, but by and large, pumpkin beer is pretty terrible.
Which is where our blind taste test comes in. Recently, Milwaukee Record co-founders/editors Matt Wild and Tyler Maas invited a few MR contributors over to MR HQ to find the least terrible Wisconsin-made pumpkin beer. Maggie Iken, Cal Roach, and Rachel Seis kindly subjected themselves to sips of seven ’Sconnie selections and one out-of-state brew (just to mix things up). Those beers were:
Beer #1: Milwaukee Brewing Co. Sasquatch Pumpkin Ale
Beer #2: New Glarus Pumpkin Pie Lust
Beer #3: Lakefront Imperial Pumpkin
Beer #4: Horny Goat Hornacopia Pumpkin Ale
Beer #5: Leinenkugel’s Harvest Patch Shandy
Beer #6: Lakefront Pumpkin Lager
Beer #7: Tyranena Painted Ladies Pumpkin Spice Ale
Beer #8: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale (out-of-state)
All beers were ranked on a scale of 1-5 on four criteria: pumpkin-ness, level of spice, drinkability, and overall taste. The results were highly unscientific and highly unexpected (math started to go out the window around beer number five), but amusing nonetheless. At one point, Tyler creeps everyone out by talking about a beer’s “mouth feel.” Oh, and there are plenty of awful/wonderful puns. Check out the video now:
Big thanks to Maggie, Cal, and Rachel for participating, as well as Brat Sounds for the use their music throughout the video (“No Hope” for the bulk of the test, “I Stutter” for the very beginning). Happy Halloween season, Milwaukee! Drink wisely.