Monday, October 26, 2015

2015 Pumpkin Beer Tasting: Seattle Cider Knocks Eylsian Out of First

Well folks, I think 2015 was finally the year that we reached Maximum Pumpkin Beer.

At this year's 4th Annual Pumpkin Beer Tasting, our group of 25 tasted 31 different pumpkin beers and ciders. That's roughly the equivalent of 13 growlers or 3/5th of a keg. In layman's terms: a shit ton

In addition to adding 7 more beers to our lineup (read about our 2014 list here), we also switched things up a bit by going with a Dia de Los Muertos theme. I really wish we had some extra time to pick up some sugar skulls to really complete the look, but the food and decor came together pretty nicely otherwise.

  • Day of the Dead clip art from Creative Market
  • Tasting cups with skull stickers from Target
  • Wooden skeleton from Cost Plus
  • Dia de Los Muertos plates and napkins from Michael's 
As for this year's pumpkin beer winners, Eylsian still managed to keep a few beers in the Top 5, but we did see two new breweries make it into the winner's circle. The trend here, with the exception of Eylsian's Night Owl, is that all our winning beers (and the cider) were something different than just your typical over-spiced, too-sweet pumpkin beer. Take note, brewers!

Top 5: 

#1 Seattle Cider Pumpkin Spice Cider (Seattle, WA)

This cider is up from 4th place last year and even though it's not technically a pumpkin beer, we're okay with it taking first place because it really is delicious. This cider is fermented with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves, giving it a delicious, subtle pumpkin-pie vibe.

#2 Pfriem Pumpkin Bier (Hood River, OR) 

This pumpkin beer was new to the line-up this year and I can find almost nothing about it online except for that most people who have tried it agree that it's a Belgian and it's not your typical pumpkin ale. I think our crew liked this one so much because it tasted the most like a normal beer, aka no overwhelming spices or sweetness.

#3 Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale (Seattle, WA)

Night Owl dropped down one spot from its #2 finish last year, but as this beer has always made it into our top three, it think it's safe to say that Night Owl epitomizes what a pumpkin beer should be. It's brewed with 7.5 pounds of pumpkin per barrel and spiced in conditioning with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.

#4 New Belgium Pumpkick Spiced Seasonal Ale (Fort George, CO)

This beer was also new to our tasting this year and stands out due to the "kick" of cranberry juice and lemon juice that New Belgium adds to its traditionally spiced ale.

#5 Elysian Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale (Seattle, WA)

Punkuccio fell from its #1 spot last year, but still finished strong in 5th place. This ale is made with Stumptown coffee plus cinnamon and nutmeg and while it was the darkest beer we tried, it's very balanced compared to most of the other pumpkin ales.

And the rest:
#6 Elysian Great Pumpkin
#7 O'Fallon Pumpkin Beer
#8 Fort George Drunkin Pumpkin
#9 Ace Pumpkin Cider
#10 Kennebunkport Pumpkin Ale
#11 Stormbreaker Pumpkin Pedaler
#12 Blue Moon         
#13 Rogue Pumpkin Patch
#14Two Beers Pumpkin Spice
#15 Laurelwood Pumpkin Ale
#16 Unita Punk'n
#17 Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Harvest Ale
#18 Southern Tier Pumking
#19 Indian Wells Spicy Pumpkin Ale
#20 Oakshire Big Black Jack
#21 Alaska  
#22 Southern Tier Warlock
#23 Anderson Valley Fall Hornin
#24 Ninkasi Pumpkin Sleigh'r
#25 Coronado Punk'In Drublic
#26 Buffalo Bills        
#27 Cisco Pumple Drumkin
#28 Banks Pumpkin Ale
#29 Anderson Valley Pinchy Jeek Barl
#30 Burnside The Dapper Skeleton
#31 Elysian Dark o the Moon

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Portland Restaurant: Harlow

What: Harlow
Where: 3632 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Honeys Heart: Betty Bowl 

When my friend from college, Sofi, and her husband, Esteban, came to town this summer with her new gluten-free diet, one I definitely don't subscribe to, I knew that Portland would have her back. Most places offer GF options on their menu, but I decided it was the perfect opportunity to wander SE Hawthorne and try fully GF and pretty much vegan, Harlow, the sister restaurant to Prasad in the Pearl.

I have been to Prasad with my sister - healthy people visiting equals me eating healthier apparently - and knew that Harlow offered many of the same items; bowls, soups, greens, brunch options on the weekends, and fresh juice, plus wine, cocktails, and GF beer.

We decided to be super healthy and each started with a fresh-squeezed juice. I think these could technically be meal replacements, due to their healthy ingredients and price, but oh well. Esteban and I went for the Ruby ($6) with grapefruit, carrot, beet, and ginger while Sofi opted for one with celery, that tasted mostly like celery water. If you're going to spend the $6, I would go for the juices with a bit more robust veggies. 

We snuck in right at the end of brunch and Esteban took advantage by ordering the Mercy Blues ($12.50 with avocado). I think one misconception of being GF, vegetarian, or vegan is that you'll never be full, but this was a pretty substantial dish!

Sofi and I decided to share the Betty Bowl with avocado ($11.50) and Hawthorne Mac ($7.50). The bowls are the way to go here I think. Lots of veggies, delicious sauces, and overall very satisfying. We got this with quinoa, but you could also go for brown rice.

So I completely understand that vegan people should have a mac alternative, and this really wasn't bad. It was actually pretty good. It was made with quinoa pasta and Daya cheese - which is a cheese substitute made out of the root of a vegetable - and I was surprisingly not offended. When push comes to shove though, I'm going with a mac n cheese with REAL cheese. I just am.

Harlow is a great place for healthy, and satisfying, brunch, lunch, or dinner. I should probably go more often...