Meet Our 2015 Guest Reviewers
Meet our first guest reviewer, Tim Veilleux, who joins to rate Elysian Brewing‘s Night Owl!
Tim has been drinking alongside @ratemupumpkins since day 1 of season 1, and quickly became a good friend, drinking companion, and knows how to celebrate St. George’s Day with the best of them. Tim is an accounty person by day, a beer blogger by evening and a sleeper by night. As a New Hampshire transplant now located near Boston, he writes his weekly “On My Beerbox” column about that related sphere of beeritude for Beeratorium dot com. (Check it out —>http://www.beeratorium.com/on-my-beerbox)!! He lives in a secret underground bunker with a wonderful woman and an imaginary duck.
RMP: 1) What made you follow @ratemypumpkins from the get go of our first season?
Tim: Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont tweeted something about your impending premier, and I loved the idea. I’m maybe a little bit competitive. Or maybe just fan of glory, imagined or otherwise. Seemed to me I could get some of both by trying to keep up with what you guys were attempting, and I made a pretty spirited effort to drink right along with the whole thing.
RMP: 2) Have you had any or many of the famous Elysian Pumpkins before?
Tim: I’m pretty sure I had a few at Cambridge Brewing Company’s Pumpkinfest a few years back, but I don’t remember much about that night. Like how I got home or why I thought Central Square McDonald’s was a good idea.
RMP: 3) You are logging your 2500th unique beer on untappd with “Night Owl”. What advice can you share with our drinkers to reach this lifetime achievement?
Tim: Get a tasting group going. I couldn’t have nearly this many beers under my belt if I was doing it on my own. We all get together once a month, everyone brings two bombers (or equivalent) of two different beers and a tasting glass. So for the price of two, you get to sample many, many more. Also, I would like to note since 2500 was the original Untappd “top” number unique beer badge, I’m happy that my 2500th isn’t an anticlimax… like Coors Banquet Beer was for my 1000th.
RMP: 4) How do you feel being bequeathed the honorary title of “The 3rd Pumpkin” by @ratemypumpkins?’
Oh, I could just burst into a cloud of kittens and glow sticks. But seriously, I think it’s awesome to have made two friends just through our mutual love of beer, shenanigans and dragons. I’ve had fun playing along for four seasons, but being validated as the number one pump-fan (ok, still need to workshop the fandom titling) and an official reviewer is absolutely the Grand Tetons of my amateur imbibing career.
Meet our second guest reviewer this season, Elijah Blaisdell, who joins to rate Elysian Brewing’s Punkuccino!
I could go on and on about Eli’s excellent taste in beer, Seattle roots, finessed barista skillset, or phenomenal talent as a baritone on the operatic stage, but here he is in his own words:
As a Seattle native, and a descendent of two generations of avid gardeners, I have a soft spot in my heart for pumpkins, coffee, and most of all, craft beer. Like your dear friend Alex used to, I currently spend many of my waking hours as a manager at Starbucks, which supports my delusions of being a professional singer. I spend most of my free time cooking, biking, drinking, and waiting for autumn.
Now, for our pre-“Punkuccino” interview:
RMP: 1) You are both a coffee expert and Seattle native, making Elysian Brewing’s “Punkuccino” a suitable beer for you to review. What pumpkin expertise do you possess to make you triple-threat for this particular pumpkin brew?
Eli: 1) When I was young, my grandfather had a pumpkin patch in which he cultivated enormous pumpkins. We would all carefully select our favorite and then take it home to be carved. In the garden at my childhood home there were also always sugar pumpkins, as well as several pumpkin/squash/gourd bastard children from the past years cross-pollination, that my mother would cook up in innumerable pies, soups, casseroles, or whatever else happened to capture her fancy that evening. I’d say that I know my way around a pumpkin.
RMP: 2) Have you had any or many of the famous Elysian Pumpkins before?
Eli: 2) I tried the Night Owl on my last trip home to Seattle, and was blown away. Unfortunately, I came of age after I’d moved away from Seattle, so I’ve had to play catch up over the last few years!
RMP: 3) If your only option for coffee in the morning is Folger’s or no coffee, which do you choose?
Eli: 3) I’ll drink it… but that doesn’t mean I won’t complain about it.
RMP: 4) If the opera “La Boheme” were a beer – what kind would it be and why?
Eli: 4) Belgian: On the lighter end, but it’s definitely got some substance. Done well, it’s heavenly, done poorly, boring, but I can still sit through it. Easily palatable to the uninitiated. Perhaps done a bit too often, but hell, everyone loves it.
Meet our third and fourth guest reviewers, Kerry Glennon and Jeffy Young, along with their beagle Pete, who join to rate Boulevard Brewing’s Funky Pumpkin!
Meet our next guest reviewers Kerry Glennon, Jeffy Young, and their new beagle, Pete! You may know of these rockin’ beer peeps from a variety of venues and events around Boston. Jeffy is an owner of none other thanCraft Beer Cellar Braintree, where he waxes poetic with his endless knowledge of craft beer and fine whiskey, in addition to keeping doggy bone treats for any four-legged visitor to the store. Kerry, in addition to having a superb palate, is a leading educator in the greater Boston area, spreading passion for dance and for inspiring confidence and joy in the youth of Boston. Kerry, in her own words, introduces herself:
To the professional world, I’m known as a dance educator and choreographer that works with kids all over Boston during the school year and the Berkshires during the summer, but to everyone else, I think I’m known as this strange chick that has found her place in this wild world by surrounding herself with all things happiness. Aside from enjoying delicious craft beers (and whiskey and good wine), I am happiest being around awesome people, snuggly animals (especially our dog Pete and our chinchilla Bradley), stuffing my face with veggie nums, blowing copious amounts of bubbles, and dancing around to show tunes.
And now, on to the interview:
RMP: 1) Pumpkin beer has been branching into more inventive brewing and variety within the last few years. Has this effected your overall feeling on this subcategory of beer?
Jeffy: 1) It seems like most breweries are jumping on the pumpkin beer bandwagon these day, and if you want your beer to stand out it needs to be something unique. I’m not the hugest fan of this genre of beers, but it seems breweries are taking those extra steps to appeal to the beer geek and casual drinker alike. I’m more drawn to barrel aged pumpkin beers since the oak and vanilla flavors brought out from bourbon, whiskey or rum casks work to balance and mellow all that pumpkin spice. Its definitely a natural fit for the style.
Kerry: 1) It is no secret that I have been known to proclaim my distaste for pumpkin beers, however, I will say, I dig that breweries are doing funkier things and not just brewing beers that taste like you’re eating canned pumpkin pie filling. Sours and barrel aged brews are definitely two of my favorite genres, so if a pumpkin beer has a touch of either of those, I’ll give it a try. With that said, don’t expect to see me at the bar sipping on a sugar-rimmed pumpkin beer anytime soon.
RMP 2) Kerry, if you had to choreograph a dance to portray the taste of a sour beer, what kind of music would you pick and how would the dance look? Jeffy, same question.
Kerry: 2) If I were going to choreograph a dance to portray the taste of sour beer, it would definitely combine a lot of funky, fun jams and the style would be a freaky mix of contemporary-meets-hip hop-meets-improve-meets-various world dances and a whole lot of jumping and turning. As far as music goes, I’d have to put together a medley of some P Funk, James Brown, Grateful Dead’s “Sugar Magnolia”, Phish’s “Bouncing Around the Room” (kind of generic, I know), and Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”.
Jeffy: 2) If I had to choreograph a dance to sour beers, I would totally choose anything from DMX’s catalog of music, but if I have to be specific it would be “Up in here”. For the dance itself, just straight krumping, hard, aggressive krumping. Does this answer make sense, no, it just feels right.
RMP: 3) Other than this Funky Pumpkin, how do you maintain a high level of funkiness in your day-to-day life?
Kerry: 3) To maintain a high level of funkiness in my day-to-day life, I make sure I hula hoop as much as possible, dance in inappropriate places, and surround myself with as many people and places that have super funky vibes as possible.
Jeffy: 3) Simple, a lot of hand jive.
RMP: 4) Jeffy, is there any particular beer or whiskey on the shelves at CBC Braintree that fills you with glee every time you walk by it. Which magical beverage would it be?
Jeffy: 4) With this question I would probably give you a different answer every day, but since we are on the subject of sour beer I would have to go with the Bruery’s Tart of Darkness. It’s a malty stout that is, tart, sour and delicious. Is it a little pricey, sure, but sometimes you just have to treat yourself.
5) This last question is for Lil Pete. I miss your face. Okay, that’s not a question, but it had to be said.
Meet our fifth guest reviewer, Seth Grondin, who joins to rate Sea Dog Brewing’s Pumpkin Ale!
Meet tonight’s guest reviewer, Seth Grondin, my dear friend, a gentleman and a scholar, and one of the best Mainers you will ever meet. Who better to help me rate a Maine pumpkin beer from Seadog Brewing Company than someone knows the key Maine phrase to ensure that you’ll always part any disagreements as friends: “Fair enough”.
In Seth’s own words:
I’m a singer by training, and an office manager in a community music school by trade. Though I am a proud Mainer by birth (if you can’t otherwise tell), I love living in Boston for the arts, public outdoor space, and the great food and drink options.
Now, on to my favorite part, the INTERVIEW:
RMP: 1) As a fellow Mainer, we can take pride in a home state that offers many wonderful breweries. Which are your favorite Maine brews?
Seth: 1) Maine Beer Company is probably my favorite Maine brewery. I know that’s a popular answer, but it’s for a good reason. It’s a brewery that when I see it on tap or in a liquor store, I have a real hard time getting anything else – any options are great. Depending on my mood though, I might also say Bissell Brothers Brewery, or possibly Avery Street, both in Portland. Bissell Brothers has been likened to the Heady Topper of Maine, and with good reason. For something that’s a little more widely available though, I like Baxter Brewing.
RMP: 2) Maine is also home to a pumpkin beer that has NO pumpkin in it. What’s your take on the controversial Shipyard Pumpkinhead?
Seth: 2) I feel like Pumpkinhead is one of those rituals that at least Maine youth (and probably others) have to go through for at least a few years before realizing or admitting how bad it actually is. So, without going into too much vitriolic detail… I liked it in college.
RMP: 3) Pair your favorite beverage with these famous Maine dishes:
Seth: 3) I decided to stick with a theme and go with Maine-brewed beers for these…
Lobster: Baxter Brewing, Summer Swelter
Blueberry Pie: Bissell Brothers, Swish
Potatoes picked while taking a month off from school: MBC, Red Wheelbarrow
Moose burgers: Gritty’s, Blackfly Stout
4) What does 207 taste like to you? Be specific with emotional reactions.
Wow. I mean, limiting 207 to only one sense – that’s tough. Pardon the nostalgic ramblings, but 207 is the smell of pure salt air, the overwhelmingly beautiful visual assault of a mist-covered mountain lake or a skyful of stars, the sound of anything in the outdoors that comes along when you’re peaceful enough to allow it. But the taste? There’s so many great things to taste from Maine – seafood, potatoes, blueberries, apples, wild game… The taste I think can be summed up by the purest, most unadulterated of elements, harvested by the unwavering and sincere hard work of those who care enough to do so.
Meet our sixth guest reviewer, Myron “Fletch” Freeman, who joins to rate Alaskan Brewing Company’s Pumpkin Ale!
Few Camberville beer events occur without a local celebrity appearance from Fletch. You have most likely had his handy work of chopping pumpkins for CBC at the Great Massacre in the form of their Great Pumpkin Ale, seen him popping by for a cider at Bantam, or maybe you’ve heard him regale about skunked Yuengling – if you haven’t, you need to. In his own words:
I’m Myron, aka Fletch (yes from the Chevy Chase movies and the book series) and I work as an IT nerd at MIT. I’m also is an aspiring amateur photographer, with special interest in long exposure night and low-light photography (look for photosbyfletch on Flickr). You’ll see me sporting Baltimore Orioles gear a lot and although you didn’t ask, I’m 6’5″ with afro, 6’1″ without.
And now, what’s rapidly becoming my favorite part, the interview:
1) Fletch, you have been a loyal pumpkin chopper at Cambridge Brewing Company’s Great Pumpkin Massacre. Pumpkins tremble at your name. What is the proper way, in your past hacking experience, to prep a pumpkin for a delicious brew?
First, having access to pumpkins with a high yield of natural sugars is a major plus. That will really give you a nice mixture of gourd flavor and sweetness. I prefer pumpkins that have been sliced, diced, scooped, shredded; basically any way to increase the pumpkin surface area for maximum absorption during the brew process.
2) Now to play devil’s advocate, what have these pumpkins done to ensure your annual wrath?
I know that pumpkins look innocent enough, but remember they all band together once a year to convince children and adults to go out into the cold and beg for candy. Also, I never quite forgave the Great Pumpkin for leaving Linus high and dry in that pumpkin patch.
3) As a connoisseur of local breweries, who has yet to brew a pumpkin ale or cider (knowing your love of Bantam) that you’d like to see throw their orange hat into the ring?
Although many locals have been brewing pumpkin beers and doing pumpkin ciders recently, there are a few companies that I would like to see do something more with pumpkin. I could see Backlash creating a kick-ass, in your face pumpkin beer. I bet Trillium could do a barrel-aged pumpkin brew. I’m also very curious what the ladies at Bantam Cider would do with pumpkins.
4) Alaska is known for many things, but pumpkin no where near tops that list. Of the following exports that Alaska is famous for, which do you think they should add to their next pumpkin brew and why:
– King Crab
– Pacific Salmon
– Crude Oil
– Copper Ore
Copper Ore is tempting for the nice color you would get but people would probably get copper poisoning from the beer and that’s never good. Sticking with things that are edible, couldn’t you see a nice, briny, gourd loving brew that’s a pumpkin herring gose? You get to cash in on two current beer crazes and raise herring’s street cred.
Meet our seventh guest reviewer, Christopher Filipowicz, who joins to review Horny Goat’s Hornucopia!
(Interview to come)
Meet our eighth and ninth guest reviewers, Adam Boyles and Michael Sakir, who join to do reviews of Ballast Point’s Pumpkin Down and Coronado Brewing’s Punk’In Drublic!
For the sake of brevity in this double feature, I will allow two of my dearest friends to introduce themselves, as I would be here for hours singing their praises:
Adam Boyles has a great fondness for beer, baseball, and his new baby daughter, Sonia. When not conducting orchestras at MIT or in Brookline, Adam favors kicking back with an IPA, or one of the many great brews from the North Shore (I’m looking at you, Joppa Stout!).
Michael Sakir is a wannabe craft mixologist, fake-it-till-you-make-it chef, and former Sonoma County winery tasting room employee that has settled for a life among divas. He traverses the country with all his earth belongings in his electric blue Prius C and is thrilled every time his travels bring him chez nouvelle amie Alex.
And now, for my favorite part of the season, the interview:
RMP: 1) Adam and Michael, you are both highly skilled and artistic orchestral conductors. You both, in my personal opinion, also have an excellent taste in beer and spirits. Taking your combined areas of intelligence, pick the perfect piece of music to embody the following beverages, while keeping in mind that you need not be limited by genre:
Adam: 1) So many options! I think best to try and limit myself to works that would involve a symphony orchestra, mostly as a fantasy about how to properly drink on the job:
Oatmeal Stout – Brahms 3rd symphony, 3rd movement – Complex, brooding, but disarmingly beautiful. Not everyday fare, for sure, but once in while, hits me just right.
Old-fashioned Cocktail – Knoxville, Summer of 1915 (Samuel Barber) – Both are those types of old friends who are easy to chill with, and can go with you through any and all deep conversations.
A hoppy IPA – Short Ride in a Fast Machine (John Adams). My wife suggests “Bounce Around the Room” by Phish, by the way.
Champagne – What better musical bubbly is there than the Overture to Candide (Leonard Bernstein)?
A glass of rioja – The final dance from El sombrero de tres picos (Manuel de Falla). Sumptuous, sexy, and strong. Both take me back to a warm summer in Granada.
Oatmeal Stout – Bartok: Bluebeard’s Castle (rich, dark, partial among polygamists)
Old-fashioned Cocktail – Leoncavallo: Pagliacci (short, sweet, & dangerous)
A hoppy IPA – Verdi: Macbeth (strong & bitter)
Champagne – Sondheim: A Little Night Music
A glass of rioja – Piazzola: Maria de Buenos Aires
RMP: 2) Pumpkin beer is a polarizing sub-category of beer, with some, present company included, claiming to disdain the entirety of it’s existence. What would a pumpkin beer have to do to impress you? Be specific with beer style and what this anthropomorphic ale would have to say to you in order to sway your opinion.
Michael: From lattes to pie, pumpkin-flavored anything has become the poster child for artificial flavoring. Disdain for pumpkin beer is often warranted considering how cinnamon, cloves, and other “fall” spices have replaced any real pumpkin flavor. In order for a pumpkin beer to impress, it should embody the rich flavor and texture of the actual plant. I can’t imagine anything lighter than a brown ale accomplishing this, though a heavier stout or porter probably would be even more successful. The perfect balance of sweet and savory is also essential, just like the perfect homemade pumpkin pie.
Adam: 2) It is the candy, sticky-sweet element of pumpkin beer that drives me to drink (other beers). Ditto hard apple ciders. If a pumpkin beer were to win me over, it would need a subtle complexity, and be both crisp and dry. None of that cinnamon sugar nonsense on the rim, either. I want to get to the bottom of the glass without craving a fluoride rinse.
RMP: 3) If you could repeat your greatest Halloween costume triumph, what would you choose to be again?
Michael: 3) Sweeney Todd. 2009.
Adam: 3) Herbert from Family Guy, the perverted old guy that’s forever after the dad’s son, Chris. It’s a voice I do pretty well, and with a blue robe in tow, I was on a roll that night.
(These two chose a picture of these above-mentioned costumes as their bio photo – enjoy!)
RMP: 4) You both are West Coast gentlemen, at least for the sake of this conversation. West coast vs. East coast is a hot debate, especially in the beer world regarding how to hop your brew. For a quick round of West v East, pick which coast you think does the following item better:
– baseball – East coast wins here, but for softball it’s West Coast.
– beer – This is so difficult! Rogue was my first, craft-brew love, so West Coast.
– seasons of the year – You mean there are more than two?! West Coast, no question.
– restaurants – Too many great 3am meals in NYC. East Coast.
– walking speed – East Coast, for sure. WAAAAAAY too slow in the walking department out west.
– driving – Miami ruins driving for the entire East Coast, IMHO. West Coast wins.
– baseball – I didn’t even know they play sportsball on both coasts!
– beer – This is very difficult to answer, but I would say California and Oregon just barely outdo East Coast beer hubs like Vermont.
– seasons of the year – East Coast. I’ve grown to appreciate all four seasons which you rarely find out West.
– restaurants – Both coasts have fantastic restaurants, but since California is now a desert wasteland and their agriculture industry will soon collapse, I’ll stick to the East Coast.
– walking speed – East Coast. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
– driving – East Coast. Traffic in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland are intolerable.
Meet our tenth guest reviewer, Amber Lee, who joins to review Southern Tier’s Warlock!
Meet tonight’s fabulous guest reviewer, Amber Lee! Amber has been an active voice through-out the @ratemypumpkins seasons sharing her own awesome takes on twitter and facebook with us many of the pumpkin brews we’ve reviewed. I first had the pleasure of meeting Amber at the Slumbrew Ball d’Ville many years ago and knew immediately that she was a hilarious bad ass about many things, including beer, and needed to be an honorary RMP this season. In her own words:
Amber is a security engineer in the New England area. She’s been dabbling in home brewing since 2006, has owned a kettlebell gym, and is an avid knitter. She can typically be found at one of the many bars in Providence, RI, commenting on internet security blogs on her phone and… knitting with her ex-techie now brewer husband in tow. She loves stouts, sours, floral IPA’s and raisiny Belgian beers.
And now, the interview!
RMP: 1) As a home-brewer yourself and as an avid pumpkin beer drinker, what do you think the secret to creating a successful kicks-all-the-stereotypes-out-the-door pumpkin beer is?
Amber: 1) I think the secret is matching spice level to beer type, and if you’re going to include pumpkin, make sure you’re thinking about what that flavor truly adds to a beer instead of just adding it for seasonal appeals sake!
RMP: 2) How has owning a kettlebell gym improved your glass raising technique? Is it in the arm or back? Have we all been lifting incorrectly this whole time?
Amber: 2) Brace through the core to support that extra mass and stave off backaches at the bar wink emoticon for lifts of 22oz or less, using just the arm is acceptable!
RMP: 3) We both share a love of knitting – what beer style is the proper pairing with the following needle-oriented activities?
– Knitting – typically a nice session beer, something from Notch?
– Crotcheting- something tart, maybe a Gose?
– Quickly trying to attach a button while running out the door – the highest ABV possible to take off the edge.
– Receiving a tattoo – I’ll pass during the matter, but a nice stout, perhaps a Founders would help lessen the sting after the fact.
RMP: 4) Pumpkin sours – fan or no?
Amber: 4) I haven’t had the pleasure! But I love sours, so I’d most likely enjoy it smile emoticon
RMP: 5) Say hi to your brother for me – not so much a question, but he was a big help and friendly face at the Packie from Day 1 of @ratemypumpkins.
Amber: 5) of course! He’s working at Macy’s now in receiving but runs into his old customers all the time and loves it!
Meet our next guest reviewers, Luke Miller and Hannah Wells, who join to take on Sam Adam’s new pumpkin beer! As a Mainer, I had to call on other New Englanders to assess our transplanted home city’s latest gourd sensation. Not only do I have the pleasure of teaching alongside Luke out in the Berkshires in the summer for the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s middle school camp, but thru Luke, I have had the pleasure of meeting his fiance, Hannah. They are both the epitome of fun-loving, beer enjoying, NH defending, nature romping, and just plain lovely people and friends.
In their own words:
Luke is a music teacher, beer enthusiast, and adventurer. When not playing/teaching/listening to music, he can be found enjoying any number of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and swimming. He also recently broke into the exciting world of disc golf. Put a distance driver in his hands, and you will Boch at how far it soars. A favorite past time is traveling – Luke has so much fun as he Hops from one location to the next. But seriously… Luke has enjoyed numerous trips to Europe and Australia, and loved learning how to play the didgeridoo while adventuring down under. An interesting tid-bit about Australian beer is that Luke couldn’t find Fosters (“Australian for beer”) at a single drinking establishment, as it is primarily produced as an export, and the locals laugh at how we think of it as the Australian beer. Luke was Brewing up another horrible beer pun, but Hannah Saison-with the review!
Hannah, wrapped up in three bullet points:
One of my guilty pleasures is following my “stories”…aka my reality tv shows. This may or may not include Top Chef, The Bachelor/ette and an occasional Millionaire Matchmaker.
I once worked at an amusement park operating rides…it was a crazy power trip that only lasted one summer. Being able to control the distribution between the antique cars was too much of a thrill.
Every time I watch Luke conduct or play while wearing his tux, I secretly wonder if this will be the time that he channels his inner James Bond by stopping the performance, pointing out an evil villain and saving everyone from harm. It hasn’t happened yet, but there is still time…
And now, my favorite part, the interview:
RMP: 1) Samuel Adams, a Founding Father of our nation, has been immortalized quite successfully through beer. Which Founding Father do you think has been overlooked and deserves a beverage of your choice named in his honor, bearing in mind that non-alcoholic beverages are in play from which to choose.
Luke & Hannah: 1) Alexander Hamilton – A “Blood and Sand” made with scotch aged at least 50 years. This drink features some of the most expensive scotch in the world as a tribute to our nations first Secretary of the Treasury, along with the blood and sand title, honoring Hamilton’s cruel death from the wounds suffered in his duel with Aaron Burr.
RMP: 2) Both of you are NH natives. As a Mainer, I always respected and was jealous of your state’s motto “Live Free or Die”. Now, in our own variation on that motto, from the following list of things to be subjected to, I want to know your choices if you would choose that event or die:
Luke & Hannah: 2) It’s not surprising that you were jealous of the NH motto… especially growing up with the Maine motto “Dirigo.” I didn’t even know that was the motto until I just looked it up on Wikipedia. I always assumed it was “The way life should be” as printed on the sign when you first drive into Maine. Apparently not.#NHorDie
Front row at a two hour Justin Bieber concert or Die?
Luke: Die. No words.
Hannah: Justin Bieber concert. Because it’s that or death
Eating your weight in cotton candy or Die?
Luke: Cotton candy! This sounds like a fun challenge, which may need to be attempted at a certain music camp next summer…
Hannah: Die. vomit
Have your wedding ceremony spoken entirely in pig latin or Die?
Luke and Hannah: Pig Latin! Aybemay isthay isway alreadyway appeninghay
RMP: 3) Outside of the wonderful world of pumpkin beer, what are your go-to favorite beers and why?
Luke & Hannah: 3) Favorites:
Luke 1 – Kentucky Bourbon Barrel – So smooth and delicious. Great balance of bourbon flavor.
Luke 2 – Old Brown Dog Ale – An old stand by that I can always rely on
Luke 3 – Magic Hat #9 – I know some people hate it, but this is one of the few fruity beers I really love
Hannah 1 – Kentucky Bourbon Barrel – Yummy boozy complement to a great beer.
Hannah 2 – Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier – One of first beers I ever had which allowed me to say “I like beer”
RMP: 4) Luke, as a wonderfully skilled violinist and conductor, as well as an enjoyer of excellent beers, what style of beer would the following composers be:
– Mozart: Lager. The everyman beer/classical music. Very light and drinkable/listenable
– Beethoven: Barleywine. Intense and unpredictable personality.
– Smetana: Pilsner. Is this too cliche for the greatest Czech composer to ever live?
– Tchaikovsky: Stout. Dark and heavy. Complex and beautiful.
– Gershwin: Gose. Funky, exciting, and unique.
Meet our thirteenth guest reviewer, Justin Schmitz, joining to review Dogfish Head Beer Punkin Ale!
Beer people, as we know, are fine people, but a beer friend from Maine? Those people are GOOD PEOPLE, and Justin is among the finest. Not only is he savvy at software engineering, he has begun to dabble in the art of brewing, has a wonderful taste in beers, owns the jauntiest corgi that you’ll ever see, and has attended so many Opera on Tap performances in Boston, he’s practically on the roster.
In his own words:
A little about me, I’m 30 years old, live in Boston and work as a software engineer for a small to mid size healthcare company. If you were to watch office space, you could quickly pick up that my life has been similar to Peter Gibbons: The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.
And now, my favorite part, the interview:
RMP: 1) When you’re not throwing back a seasonal pumpkin beer with us, what year round beer will we find you drinking?
Justin: 1) My go to beer(s) would be Arrogant Bastard(Stone Brewery) or Old Rasputin(North Coast Brewing) which are both exemplary brews.
RMP: 2) Those that know you are aware of your corgi, Sheldon. Which of these breeds of dog would be a gentleman and a scholar?
– Scottish terrier
Justin: 2) Duh, this would be a Corgi, because SASS… for the uninitiated: Corgis are Sassy
RMP: 3) You’ve recently spread your own brewing wings. If you were to brew the ultimate pumpkin beer, what style would it be?
Justin: 3) I don’t know if this exists, I’d make an IPPA ( Imperial Pumpkin Pale Ale )
RMP: 4) Knowing your affinity for west coast beers, let’s be real. Who does beer better, East or West coast?
Justin: 4) West coast is the best coast, I’ve yet to find a comparable beer from the East, not that it doesn’t exist!
Meet our fourteenth guest reviewer Dave Burke who joins us to rate AntiVillain Ale Co. Golden Pumpkin Ale!
Dave first crossed @ratemypumpkins path when our twitter follower numbers needed to go from 699 to a higher digit. He was that chosen one to become our 700th follower, and he waited two months after knowing who we were to introduce himself at Liquor World in Porter Square where we had been loyal customers the whole time. He is well-versed in the a variety of liquors, a history nerd, a metal head, a cat afficionado, and covered in tattoos regaling tales of the Old Norse mythological way.
In his own words:
A transplant from a tiny upstate New York town, I moved to Boston a few years ago for two reasons: the music and the beer. I jumped on the craft beer bandwagon soon after turning 21, and have been working in the industry for nearly as long. Speaking of which, residents of greater Somerville/Cambridge may recognize me from Liquor World, which is where I spent most of my hours. When I’m not peddling libations to the community, I’m usually found at one of the local watering holes, record stores, or at home forcing my neighbors to listen to Black Sabbath.
And now, my favorite part:
RMP: 1) To say you are a fan of metal is an understatement. What kind of metal music would the following liquors be and why?
– Rye Whiskey – I’d say classic heavy metal. The original that started it all.
– Mezcal – Probably stoner/doom metal. Heavy, abrasive and very popular with hipsters.
– Gin – This is a tough one. Maybe black metal? It’s a little off-putting at first when you have the cheap stuff, but eventually you learn to enjoy it. Just like gin.
– Popov Vodka – The first thing that came to mind is Korpiklaani’s song ‘Vodka’, so I’d have to say folk metal.
RMP: 2) Amongst our guest reviewers, you enter with a much more extensive knowledge of the range of pumpkin beers out there. Which is the actual Ruler of them all?
Dave: 2) This is a tough one. It’s a toss-up between Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin and Troeg’s Master Of Pumpkins. (I will say that Xibalba may win if I ever get to try it)
RMP: 3) If you were to create a Norse mythology inspired pumpkin beer, what style would it be and what would it be named?
Dave: 3) I’d say either a braggot or gruit, called ‘Nectar Of The Gourds’
RMP: 4) Being from New York and having transplanted to Camberville, make a definitive ruling on: Mt. Auburn Cemetery or Sleepy Hollow?
Dave: 4) I’m going to lose all of my Halloween Hipster cred with this one but I’ve actually never been to either one. Shameful, I know.
Meet our fifteenth guest reviewer, Russ Anderson!
Russ, in addition to being a dear friend, porch beer comrade of half a decade, and one of five people I’ve met in adulthood who has seen “Darby O’Gill & the Little People”, specializes in video production with his company T-Stop Pics (seriously, check out his amazing work —–>http://www.tstoppics.com/), hones his fierce volleyball skills regularly, plays a mean folk guitar, and, at one time bore the moniker of “Narragansett Russ” by local BBQ eatery Red Bones. If you can’t tell, he’s straight up one of the best people I know.
On to the interview:
RMP: 1) As a local legend, one may have heard of you referred to as “Narragansett Russ”, others as “Imperial Russian Stout Russ” – neither of those titles involves pumpkin. What are your true pumpkin beer feelings? What would one need to do to be impressive?
Russ: 1) Despite enjoying many a John Goodman performance, I can’t say I’m an unconditional fan of anything derived from a member of the squash family. But as the ‘Gansett moniker should indicate, I’m not too proud to drink anything with alcohol in it. I suppose a punkinbeer could be impressive to me in any number of ways, either by being “not-too-pumpkin-y” and easily drinkable, or by being rich, generously alcohol-filled, and complex.
RMP: 2) Reviewing a beer named for a horror classic, let’s play “What beer style would the following horror movies be?” and why:
– The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari: Well it’s gotta be German. I considered Altbier and Bock, but settled on good ol’ Dunkel. The oldest beer style under German beer law, the dark lager is reminiscent of both the tone and look of this silent film classic. It doesn’t boast modern over-the-top effects in terms of heavy hops or high ABV, but after a few half-liters you might well think you’re the only sane person in a world of lunatics. Or vice versa.
– Bram Stoker’s Dracula (the Gary Oldman version): I prefer to think of it as the Keanu Reeves version –- that transcendent thespian is surely the Gielgud of our time. I don’t know, maybe this is your pumpkin beer. It looks nice but seems gimmicky, reliant on recognizable ingredients, and ultimately just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Plus, after ponying up big bucks for craft seasonals, one might be more prone to a Winona-like bout with kleptomania. Love your blog though!
– Evil Dead: There are some good limited-distribution craft options for this one already in existence, like THIS (http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/396/10387/) or THIS (http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/24326/162394/). I’m going to agree with the former and say this is a high-proof red ale, in honor of Sam Raimi’s refusal to go remotely realistic crimson with his fake blood. Keep it campy baby. Ash vs. Evil Dead premieres October 31 on Starz, woot.
– – Shaun of the Dead: It would be light-bodied and British, let’s say a simple mild brown ale. Just enough liquid courage to help you swing your nail-board squarely into a zombie’s forehead, but not so much booze or heft that you can’t outrun the shuffling buggers.
RMP: 3) What is your year round go-to for an evening beverage, knowing that I too believe ‘Gansett is “Made on Honor, and Sold on Merit”?
Russ: 3) I mean, going by the sheer numbers, you probably hit the nail on the head. For the sake of exhibiting a modicum of taste on your beer blog, however, I’ll say a big, hoppy IPA. Works just as well for me on a hot summer night as it does in a blizzard. Love me some Imperial Stout, but that is usually a winter indulgence.
RMP: 4) Which Roman Polanski film has been severely over-looked and should also be made into a pun-inspired beer? What would it be?
Russ: 4) It is hard to say any Polanski film is overlooked, as most are either renowned for being brilliant, like “Repulsion,” Rosemary, or “The Pianist,” OR atrocious like “Pirates” or “Ninth Gate.” “Chinatown” is one of my all-time faves. But I’ll go with “Knife in the Water,” a hummingly tense but understated character drama shot in pristine B&W, largely aboard a small sailboat. As part of the Criterion Collection it is hardly overlooked, but worth a mention anyway. The associated beer should be smooth, subtle, but definitely potent – it will be a nitro stout called, “Nitro in the Water.” Sorry, best I got. Were you by any chance fishing for “The Fearless Vampire Killers” in honor of Halloween?
Meet our sixteenth guest reviewer, and one of my dearest friends, Kathryn Mckellar!
You may know her from being a co-founding Diva of the Boston chapter of Opera On Tap Boston – singing opera in bars while swinging steins of beer or even-handedly maintaining cocktails. You may also know her from her extensive time spent onstage with such companies as Boston Lyric Opera or Lyric Stage filling venues with her dulcet soprano tones. Or maybe you know her from running the Minute Man trail pre- and post-digger spills with battle wounds that put you and your wimpy nerve to shame. In case you can’t tell, I think she’s the bee’s knees.
And now, onto the questions:
RMP: 1) As a phenomenal soprano who has appeared in many operas, let’s play “What adult beverage would the following operas be”?
Carmen – An opera about passion, love, and destruction set in 1820 Seville. The hot-blooded gypsies and smugglers drink Manzanilla, and you can too. It is a rich Spanish red, and Carmen herself is often depicted as full-bodied and clad in red.
The Magic Flute –Absinthe – ya gotta be hallucinating a bit to follow this plot.
Hansel and Gretel – A sweet gingerbread beer. German – style, maybe a bock.
Madama Butterfly – Japanese single malt, aged 15 years like Butterfly herself.
RMP: 2) Born a Texan, but now living in Somerville, let’s make some historical cocktails. What would the main liquor be in a cocktail named for the Alamo?
Mezcal or Tequila because the battle of the Alamo involves fighting with a powerful Mexican force. Maybe even mezcal and bourbon to represent the two sides.
Paul Revere – I did a little research, and apparently Paul Revere actually stopped by a local distiller for a few shots of MEDFORD RUM to steel his nerves for the famous ride.
RMP: 3) When not holding a pumpkin beer, what can we find as your evening beverage of choice?
Kathryn: 3) I’m always up for trying something new, but I love a good gin martini, lemon twist.
RMP: 4) Opera is no stranger to mistresses, like this Maple Mistress Pumpkin Ale. Sometimes the soprano is the mistress, sometimes the mezzo. What voice type would the following drinks be:
– Pinot noir – Is complex and colorful, but versatile, not unlike a lyric soprano… or is it Titus Andromedon.
– Whiskey – Depends on the variety. You could liken a contralto to the peaty smokiness of Islay single malts, or a rich but biting bourbon could be a mezzo-soprano.
-Russian Imperial Stout – This would clearly be a bass specializing in Russian Opera, like Boris Godunov.
– Gin and tonic – Maybe a coloratura soprano: Light, agile, and easy for lay audiences to consume and appreciate.
– Tequila shot – sounds like a drunk karaoke singer to me, little subtly or technique, but plenty of passion.
I’m a Somerville native, a city boy. There’s not too much countryside and farmland in the city. My favorite season of the year was and always will be the fall. Around mid to late September, my parents would take my brother and I out of the city and drive out to Bolton, out in western MA, and go apple picking and pick out our annual pumpkin. The smell of a freshly carved out pumpkin brings me back. I’ve been in the food and beverage industry for 14 years. I have a passion for food, wine, whiskey, and great craft beer. About 4 years ago, I helped open a now popular fixture in the Davis Square area of Somerville restaurant that specializes in craft beer Five Horses Tavern. That being said, I appreciate the craft of pumpkin beers.
And now, my favorite part:
RMP: 1) You are known not only for your cocktail expertise and prowess, but for your bass playing talents as well. Let’s combine them. Invent a cocktail named for your favorite bassist of all time – who is it named for and what is in it?
Steve: 1) My favorite bass player of all time is James Jamerson, a Detroit session player and unsung hero of all those Motown hits of the 60’s (that intro to My Girl – that’s him). He played an all this hits with his unique playing style – with his one index finger, nicknamed The Hook.
1.5oz Jamerson Irish whiskey
0.5oz Aperol liquor
0.5oz Lemon Juice
O.25oz Simple Syrup
Top with a splash of malbec red wine
Garnish with orange wedge
Build 1st 3 ingredients into shaker pint. Add ice. Shake and strain over ice into double rocks glass. Top with malbec and garnish with orange wedge
RMP: 2) Which pumpkin beers have caught your attention this year by rising above and beyond the generous gourd competition?
Steve: 2) Dogfish Punkin was great this year. Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin never disappoints. Two Roads Rosemary’s Baby really caught my attention this year.
RMP: 3) When I think of TouchTunes jukeboxes, inevitably I think of you – most likely because $80 worth of songs were purchased for you at your last birthday. If you had one song, and one song only, that you could play as your final TouchTunes hurrah, what would it be?
Steve: 3) This question took me almost 12 straight hours to answer. I guess my swan song would be We’ll Meet Again by Vera Lynn.
RMP: 4) Your namesake is none of than Steve Austin, the six million dollar man played by Lee Majors who was a former astronaut with bionic implants. On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you that you were not named Buzz after real-life astronaut, Buzz Aldrin or after BFF of cowboy Woody, Buzz Lightyear?
Steve: 4) A 1. Kinda bummed out I wasn’t named Buzz. ‘Hey guys! Let’s go grab a drink at Daddy Jones with Buzz!’
Gabe and I first met in person at Stoddard’s after having met on twitter bonding over a love of Backlash beer. Gabe may or may not be the most experienced drinker of Hill Farmstead that I know, is a hell of a bartender to boot, and has cornered the market on “How to Tweet Like a Boss”.
In his own words:
-Some people know me as the beer troll. Others as a bartender. But my first beverage love was coffee.
And now, on to the interview:
RMP: 1) You’ve made your anti-pumpkin beer sentiments known on twitter more than once. I respect that. What would a pumpkin beer have to do, either recipe wise or perhaps gesture-wise to turn your head the other way?
Gabe: 1) Let’s clear some stuff up here, I don’t want to anger the pumpkin overlords. I’m not anti-pumpkin! I’m anti-shitty beer. And there are many pumpkin beers out there that are not shitty at all. I’ve gone to the Great Pumpkin festival a couple times, and always discovered new, great pumpkin beers. I have nothing against those. What irks me is when I see cases and cases of Shipyard Pumpkin on the shelves before 4th of July. But, to answer your question, my favorite pumpkin beers are the ones that have more than just a pumpkin spice flavor on top of a boring beer. Barrel-aging is a little overdone at this point, but I think that oak rounds pumpkin really well. So does booze. Maybe I’m just describing my forever favorite pumpkin beer, Avery’s Rumpkin. Recently I’ve had the chance to try some pumpkin sours, and that funk (when done well) is another way to catch my eye.
RMP: 2) Beer-tails: I’m ambivalent about them. As a known stellar mixologist, sway me one way or another, keeping in mind you can describe a winning creation of your own.
Gabe: 2) Personally, I’m not crazy about them. The closest I’ll get to a beer cocktail is probably a Michelada because those shits are fucking refreshing. Does that count? I think most of the time they are lazy attempts, or gimmicky. But there are some brilliant exceptions. Kevin Mabry is a goddamn wizard with beer cocktails. And Darren Swisher once made a simple syrup with a *very* coveted Imperial Stout and used that to impart chocolatey notes into cocktails. That was brilliant. So ultimately, in the hands of a very gifted bartender, it can be an interesting, worthwhile ingredient. But I have a hard time thinking of a food product those two couldn’t make a good cocktail with, so there’s that.
RMP: 3) As a foodie, I want us to play a game pairing your choice of adult beverage for the following gourmet entrees:
– Bone Marrow
15 yr Old Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. I know, I know. Fucking Pappy, everyone wants it these days, most people couldn’t tell it apart from any other bourbon they are just chasing the hype. But that’s a pretty sentimental pairing for me. Lots of fond memories.
– Duck confit
– Smoked Salmon
Something funky on draft at Row 34.
– Mac & Cheese
RMP: 4) When not serving to the elite, what does the master bartender serve himself, and please don’t say fernet.
Gabe: 4) Green Chartreuse for the win.