Just a quick note before we proceed. Since this scoring process is definitely a new one to us, we’ve obviously encountered kinks along the way. So for the purposes of clarity we’ve made the executive decision not to include scores on the packaging. They would not have effected the overall beer scores, but initial feedback has fueled the decision to just avoid the confusion altogether. With that said, we will definitely still be musing on it as a category. It’s too fun not to.

Also, just so the math follows, I’d like to reiterate that the scoring for the basic categories is on a half point scale. Unlike grade school a rating of 5 is not failing, but average and middle of the road. A score higher or lower dictates what is above or below average.

Further, our personal scores are tabulated as the average of all six categories (with the last being an average of it’s 3 sub categories) and rounded to the nearest two digit decimal so that scores will not be too similar. These are then averaged to create overall scores by category, which are again averaged across six overall scores to make a final score (rather than just averaging our final personal overall scores). You’ll still be able to see all our individual personal scores by category though, so if you find yourself leaning along with a particular reviewer, all you have to do to reference their thoughts are check out the M/ T / K / R / E (correspondingly Mike, Tim, Keenan, Rick, and Erich).

Ok, enough with the math lesson…

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Name: America’s Original Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Buffalo Bill’s Brewery, California, USA

Beer style / ABV%: Amber Ale , 5.2%

Touting itself as America’s Original Pumpkin Ale brewed in the spirit of George Washington himself Buffalo Bill’s Brewery brings us a spicy concoction they describe as “Pumpkin Pie In A Bottle” featuring baked and roasted pumpkins, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.

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Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Being the first also tends to mean often imitated. There doesn’t seem to be anything too off the beaten path about this ale, but it seems to be a solid and lovingly crafted product. I’d give it a little markup for being the first. Trend setters are too often overlooked. – Mike

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Packaging:

Simple design without being too contemporary.  The artwork fits a particular period in style, alluding to the claim of “America’s Original Pumpkin Ale”. – Rick

Maybe I’m a sucker for history but the hand drawn aesthetic calls to me, and definitely lends to the idea of getting there first. Very homey and harvesty. – Mike

The drawn pumpkin on the label is nice, but I feel the rest of the design elements are uninspired, or worse, conflict with the pumpkin artwork – Erich

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Color: 6.5

Greets you with a hazy translucent orange/amber ale that settles with  a small, 1/2 inch, quickly dissipating head (even with a moderately aggressive pour) and zero lacing. – Tim

I really enjoyed the coloring.  A nice caramel in color, almost amber with a dose of rich pumpkin hues.  It’s probably the best quality of this ale.  – Rick

Rich and moderately cloudy. True pumpkin shell orange.  It’s calling for a candle in it. Very pretty. – Mike

M – 8 / T- 6 / K- 6.5 / R- 7 / E – 5

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Aroma:  6

Subtle hints of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg but very little pumpkin aroma, and no yeast, malt or hop smells make it through the spices. – Erich

A light pumpkin smell. Reminds me of cutting off the top of an almost too fresh Jack O’lantern. – Keenan

A slight hint of pumpkin is mingling with various yeast and citrus notes making this ale smell like a wheat beer more than anything else.  – Rick

M – 5.5 / T- 5 / K- 9 / R- 6 / E – 5

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Mouth feel: 5

The beer has a light body in the mouth with a slightly astringent citrus acidity and the same Allspice and Clove qualities found in the bouquet, but much less noticeable pumpkin. – Tim

A very light, almost thin feeling on the tongue letting the flavors play freely. – Rick

Very light and smooth. Though going down it has a bit of a harsher feel. But not bad. – Keenan

M – 7 / T- 5/ K- 8 / R- 5 / E – 1

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Tasting notes: 5

There’s pumpkin here, but it’s more pie. Definitely spicy. I still don’t get much cinnamon, but the clove and nutmeg become intensely present despite the nose being fairly subdued. Some of the gourd comes through more as you drink though, once you develop some familiarity with the spice.  I’d like there to be more though. This would be a great beer for drinkers who prefer a subtler taste, rather than some other strongly pumpkin flavored ales. – Mike

Notes of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg show up here as well but again the pumpkin flavor is difficult to locate and the fundamentals (yeast, malt, hops) are nondescript. Overall bland even in spite of the spice characteristics. – Erich

This seems to be a decent beer with pumpkin as an afterthought.  The lack of head after the initial pour was disheartening, but it seemed to almost foreshadow the lightness and smooth drinkability that this beer excels in. – Rick

M – 5.5 / T- 5.5 / K- 4.5 / R- 4.5/ E – 4

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Finish: 6

The finish is crisp and a little dry with spices lingering for only a few seconds and is never overwhelming on the palate. – Tim

A smooth easy finish with wheaty hints, but I find it’s ultimately short lived to the point that it’s almost forgettable. – Rick

There’s a touch of nuttiness, and a substantial flare of ginger and citrus on the swallow. The clove lingers on the mouth a good bit afterwards, and reminds me strongly of wheat ales from the summer. – Mike

M – 6 / T- 6 / K- 5 / R- 5.5 / E – 6

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Flavor balance: 5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 3.5

The spice definitely overwhelms the pumpkin here. Old Bill must have had a heavy hand. – Mike

M – 4 / T- 4 / K- 3 / R- 5 / E – 2

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 6

Very well balanced I thought. A bit drier than it needs to be. – Keenan

M – 6 / T- 5 / K- 7 / R- 6 / E – 7

–         Multiple Drinkability?  5.5

The relatively low alcohol content as compared to more recent craft beers makes Buffalo Bill a good choice for more than one round, but unfortunately what works in its favor there, will definitely leave more adventurous drinkers feeling a bit shortchanged. – Tim

M – 7 / T- 5 / K- 5 / R- 5.5 / E – 6

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Overall: 5.58

M – 6.25 / T- 5.3 / K- 6.5 / R- 5.6 / E – 4.3

It really is very pretty...

Editors Note: Buffalo Bill’s also makes an Imperial Pumpkin ale, but it has yet to receive TTB approval and they won’t be bottling it this year. It is on tap at Buffalo Bill’s Brewery, however. We won’t be able to make it there, but if you get a chance and are in the area, swing through and let us know what you think!

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