2010 Fall Beer Review

Fall brings many changes -- the crisp weather, the autumn leaves, pumpkins and the new seasonal varieties of beer on the shelves. With so much going on, you'd be hard pressed to taste all of the fall beers, so we stepped up to the challenge, threw a party and put twelve different fall varietals to the test to find a champion and weed out the riffraff.

Ah, autumn. The weather is cooling down, the leaves are changing colors, and there are a whole host of delicious new fall selections showing up on beer menus everywhere. With such a vast selection of autumn ales to choose from, it can be difficult to find the best fall beer for you. With that in mind, I gathered about a dozen friends, acquaintances, beer snobs, and casual drinkers and we sampled twelve different fall beers.

Fall beer bottles

Once everyone was in place in our makeshift biergarten, we spent about ten minutes bickering over a rating system before we settled on giving each beer a GPA (0 being terrible and 4.0 being perfect). Without any further ado, here it is, our guide to the best, worst, and everything in between as it pertains to the fall beers of 2010.

The Good

A bottle of Pumpkinhead

Dogfish Head Punkin’ Ale
Overall GPA: 3.29

Notes & Quotes:

  • Drinkers noted hints of cinnamon, spice cake, and ginger along with a robust pumpkin flavor.
  • Some found a sour aftertaste, others enjoyed the aftertaste, saying that Punkin’ goes down nice and smooth.
  • “Tastes like a pumpkin pie in fermented liquid form.”

Bottle of Pumpkin Ale

Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin Ale
Overall GPA: 3.20

Notes & Quotes:

  • Everyone agreed that it smelled wonderful, but were split on whether or not the taste followed through.
  • The two samplers who gave Post Road a low score were on opposite ends of the spice spectrum. One complained of too much spice while the other said it needed more spice.
  • “(Post Road is) for the drinkers who love pumpkin beers without the sweet taste.”

The Eh

Beers in this section had a GPA range of 1.67 to 3.15. On the higher end of the scale were the Oktoberfest offerings from Flying Dog (PA), Great Lakes (OH), and Lancaster (PA) breweries.

3 bottles of fall beer

Flying Dog’s Dogtoberfest was referred to as spunky and good for accompanying a dessert, whereas the other two didn’t inspire much commentary at all. Blue Moon’s Harvest Moon was popular, but failed to live up to the standard set by its Honey Moon summer ale. Paulaner’s Oktoberfest scored surprisingly low, but that was likely due to us getting saddled with a skunky batch. The majority of the beers that fell into this middle section did not garner much feedback; be it positive or negative, so don’t expect to be impressed when ordering them.

The Bad

Joe Coffee beer

Philadelphia Brewing Company’s Joe Coffee Porter
Overall GPA: 1.40

Notes & Quotes:

  • After receiving a lot of negative comments, a few samplers defended Joe’s taste yet declined to review it, leading to the low score.
  • The drinkers, despite their opinions, all noted the heavy body and very dark color of this porter.
  • “Smells like hour old coffee…ugh, tastes like it too.”

Abita beer

Abita Pecan Harvest
Overall GPA: 1.63

Notes & Quotes:

  • Pecan Harvest was the only beer that everyone agreed on. Nobody liked it.
  • “Don’t bother with this beer.”
  • “One drink and you want to try it again because it’s oddly gross.”

The Scorecard

  1. Dogfish Head Punkin’ Ale (DE) – 3.29
  2. Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin Ale (NY) – 3.20 – Writer’s Choice
  3. Flying Dog Dogtoberfest  (PA)– 3.15
  4. Lancaster Brewing Company Oktoberfest (PA) – 2.65
  5. Great Lakes Brewery Oktoberfest (OH) – 2.65
  6. Blue Moon Harvest Moon (CO) – 2.48 – Best Beer Name
  7. Magic Hat Hex Ourtoberfest (VT) – 2.38
  8. Atwater Bloktoberfest (MI) – 2.25
  9. Magic Hat Odd Notion Fall 2010 (VT) – 2.00 – Coolest Label
  10. Paulaner Oktoberfest (Deutschland) – 1.67
  11. Abita Pecan Harvest (LA) – 1.63
  12. PBC Joe Coffee Porter (PA) – 1.40

The Overview

Overall, the beer tasting was an enjoyable experience. Surprisingly, most of the drinkers did not last through the entire twelve beers. One drinker who did taste all twelve pointed at all of the beer left on the table at the night’s end and slurred, “There’s still left, you have to drink it.” Thanks, but it looks like I’ll be sticking to Post Road and Punkin’ Ale this season. Happy drinking!

Patrick Wittwer

Patrick is a jack of all trades currently based in Philadelphia. Not one for sitting still, he fills his free time with writing, photography, and traveling. You can find more from Patrick on his blog: http://thewhatzine.blogspot.com/.