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…)