Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale won the recent blind pumpkin beer tasting at Vintage Estate Wine and Beer in Boardman, besting 13 others in one of the most unusual beer competitions around. About 70 people tasted 14 different pumpkin beers -- without even knowing which brands they were sampling -- and selected their favorite. Stegmaier, made by the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., came out on top. "The pumpkin ale was very well balanced and drinkable," Vintage Estate owner Phill Reda said in an email. "It wasn't over the top like a liquid pumpkin pie, but had enough flavor that you knew it was a pumpkin ale." He plans to invite the brewmaster to his store to pick up a special certificate.
Brewmaster Jay Peters, who just happens to be originally from Youngstown, was thrilled that his beer came out on top. "I'm really pleased to hear that because I thought we did an excellent job," he said. Pumpkin beers are made or broken with the spices, he said. "We nailed our spices this year," Peters said. The beer also is made with real pumpkin.
Stegmaier beat out some stiff competition. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale was second. The rest of the field was made up of: Southern Tier Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale, Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale, Dogfish Head Punkin, 8. Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider, Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin Ale, Lakefront Lager, Arcadia Jaw-Jacker, Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin, Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat and Hoppin' Frog Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale.
If you missed out on the pumpkin tasting, Vintage Estate does a similar blind tasting for Christmas beers. That has yet to be scheduled.