Pumpkin CapsAs we mentioned yesterday, one of our favorite signs that fall has arrived is the appearance of pumpkin beers.  We love the rich, spicy flavors of pumpkin ales (and in some cases stouts).  It’s like a crisp autumn breeze, a smooth beer and a slice of pie come together in every sip.  And their seasonal nature makes us appreciate them while they last; when they’re out, that’s it until next year.

But which one to drink?  With such a brief window of opportunity, can you afford to waste your time on a six-pack of bad pumpkin ale?  We think not.  So in the name of science (and better drinking), we called up the Bacon Terrorist and Boozy Betty and invited them over for a night of taste-testing.  They had proven their palates with us in last year’s cupcake showdown, and Boozy Betty’s knowledge of beers has come in handy on numerous nights out.

ContendersTo pick the contenders, we turned to BeerAdvocate’s list of pumpkin ales.  We decided to seek out as many of the beers on the list as we were able.  To keep costs in check, we limited our sample to those beers we could find available for single purchase (again: who wants to waste their time and money on a six-pack of bad pumpkin ale?).  A trio of trips to Total Wine in western Alexandria, Calvert-Woodley Liquors in Van Ness, and Trader Joe’s in Old Town yielded thirteen choices in all.

We rated each beer on Presentation, Flavor and Overall, using a scale of 1-5 for each.  Once all of our scores were tallied, we averaged our four ratings and added the three categories together to give each contender a score between 1 and 15.  At the suggestion of the Bacon Terrorist, we also rated each beer’s label art  and averaged those scores independently.

Once we were done, we had a whole lot of numbers, a dump bucket full of also-rans, and a decent nutmeg-spiced buzz.  Check out our assessment of each contender (in order from lowest total score to highest) after the jump. (more…)

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BlogtoberfestAh, Oktoberfest.  Sure, it’s an almost 200 year-old traditional Bavarian festival that celebrates a royal marriage, but here in America we’ve taken it to its logical conclusion: a month-long excuse to drink German beer, eat sausage and pretzels, and dress like the St. Pauli Girl (Note: Doing so without shaving one’s beard and mustache is likely to earn you more than a few odds looks).

And now Orr Stuhl, the Washington City Paper’s intrepid Beerspotter, has taken it one step further.  As announced on September 14th, Orr is calling all bloggers – food and otherwise – to rise up with one voice and declare the next few weeks to be BLOGTOBERFEST here in Washington.

Here at Capital Spice, we love a good collaborative effort among bloggers (especially one that was born of the DC Food Bloggers’ Happy Hour earlier this month), so we’re definitely on board with this idea.  As explained by Orr over at the City Paper, Blogtoberfest represents an invitation for bloggers to dedicate a few posts during the month of October to various aspects of their own personal beer experiences.

But what to write about, right?  Orr’s glad you asked.  And he wants your input to determine the prompts that bloggers will be encouraged to write about each week. 

Think you’ve got some good ideas?  Then join Orr (and us) at Axis Bar & Grill on U Street this Wednesday for a planning (and drinking) session.  We’ll be gathering around 6:30 before getting down to business at 7.  And we promise we won’t stop until we’ve come up with a lineup of topics that will have you searching the Interwebs to see what your favorite DC bloggers are saying.

See you on Wednesday night – and come thirsty!

Axis Bar & Grill
1340 U Street, NW
Washington DC
6:30 – Happy Hour
7:00 – Blogtoberfest Planning