Tag Archives: Pumpkin Beer

Squeezing in just one more Pumpkin Beer

The Pumpkining


It is down to the wire as far as pumpkin beers go (it’s gauche to consume one after October right?) so when my very nice neighbour dropped off  a couple of bottles of The Pumpkining from Granville Island Brewing I knew I had to dutifully drink it before midnight lest I turn into a pumpkin.

The Pumpkining (6% ABV) pours a burnt orange (according to the bottle) but to my untrained eye I would describe it as a very clear chestnut reddish brown beer with lots of thick off white head and excellent head retention. An earthy nose that is rather subtle and an earthy yam-like flavour with a lot of underlying pumpkin pie spices. Body wise I find this one a bit thin with no real warming character despite the label’s assertion it is a strong beer. I don’t get much in the way of maltiness from this beer and the finish continues the earthy notes making this one consistent if not terribly complex. I have to say GIB always nails it when it comes to putting the flavours front and centre i.e. if it says it is a pumpkin beer there are lots of pie spices or if it says vanilla than by gosh there is a boat load of vanilla. Whether this is a good thing can be up for debate. Personally I like my pumpkin beers to be a bit on the sweet side and a little heavier body wise.

Overall not a bad entry into the (overly) saturated pumpkin market but not memorable enough to make The Pumpkining a repeat purchase.

Happy Hallowe’en!

I said I would never do that again…

Last year I endeavoured to taste test as many pumpkin beers as I could during a stretch of a couple weeks in October. For my efforts I learned if you enjoy a certain style of beer it is best not to exclusively drink said style for weeks on end as routine consumption is a surefire way to cure your fondness – in other words the very sight of pumpkin beer this year made my stomach turn.

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your stance in the controversial pumpkin beer debate) I could really not help myself when I spotted a can of Fall Hornin’ from Anderson Valley Brewing Company. I mean it was just a wee little can, it is not like I had to drink a big 650ml of pumpkin flavoured beerness, and it was an ale to boot so all should go well and my faith in the power of pumpkin should be restored right?

Fall Hornin'

Fall Hornin’ (6% ABV) pours a dark reddish brown with lots of off-white head that really sticks to your glass. This beer is clear with good carbonation. There is some earthiness on the nose reminding me more of roasted pumpkin than pumpkin pie. As you drink the pumpkin pie spices emerge but it is not an overly sweet beer by any means. Fall Hornin’ has some body and depth that carries the spiced flavours well (I find beers that are too light can be overtaken by the earthy pumpkin pie spices). A roasted malt finish and just a hint of hoppy bitterness finishes this beer off.

Overall I have to say this beer redeemed pumpkin beer a bit for me and while I won’t be going on a pumpkin bender again any time soon I think a pumpkin beer or two might find their way back into my fall rotation.

The Great Pumpkin Beer Wrap-Up

Well I did it (self congratulatory pat on the back) I tried nineteen different pumpkin beers  leading up to Hallowe’en and I am happy to not have to see or drink another pumpkin beer until next year. In honour of this feat I thought I would put together a little wrap-up by ranking the pumpkin brews 1 through 19 to give my readers a better sense of my favourite and not so favourite beers.



Starting at the top of the gourd pile we have…

1. Southern Tier Pumking

2. Elysian Night Owl

3. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

4. Parallel 49 Schadenfreude

5. Granville Island Pumpkin Ale

6. St. Ambroise Citrouille (Pumpkin)

7. Parallel 49 Lost Souls

8. Tree Jumpin Jack

9. Elysian Dark O’ the Moon

10. Elysian Hansel and Gretel

11. Steamworks Pumpkin Ale

12. Epic Brewing Imperial Pumpkin Porter

13. Fernie Pumpkin Head

14. Red Racer Pumpkin Ale

15. Howe Sound Pumpkineater

16. Two Beers Pumpkin Spice Ale

17. Pike Harlot’s Harvest

18. Lighthouse Pumpkin Ale

19. Phillips Crooked Tooth


Now onto the Great Christmas Beer Countdown, 55 beers in 55 days …just kidding!


Pumpkin Beer Nineteen, It’s Finally Hallowe’en

Canadian Hallowe’en Fact (courtesy of CBC) 850 — the number of Canadians who reported that they were Satanists in 2001, up from 340 in 1991


Beer nineteen, the final milestone in my ground-breaking research into the addition of pumpkin to ale. Did we end on a high note? Did I finally find the elusive, perhaps mythical, 10 candy corn beer? Is Lighthouse Brewing Company’s boringly named Pumpkin Ale the pinnacle of pumpkin perfection in a pint glass? Well, no.



Lighthouse Pumpkin Ale pours very clear, pale orange copper in colour with absolutely no head retention whatsoever. The white head that initially appeared was gone by the time I moved the glass to snap a picture. The nose has some pumpkin pie spices and a brown sugar element to it. Mouthfeel, this one is very, very light bodied and a bit cloying in its sweetness, like there was lots of sugar remaining in the beer. It is also the flattest of all the pumpkins I sampled. Pie spices and sugar are the dominant flavours and there is not a lot to the finish. Far too light and too sweet for my taste.

So things turned a little gruesome on Hallowe’en day but maybe that was my trick since I am undeserving of a treat…


Lighthouse Pumpkin Ale is being bestowed four candy corns out of a possible ten.

Pumpkin Beer Eighteen, All Hail the Pum(Queen)

If Southern Tier has the self-titled King I may have found them an eligible Queen…

It’s time for the penultimate beer and (thankfully) it’s a good one, a really good one in fact, Elysian Brewing Company’s Night Owl.



Night Owl pours a copper orange colour with lots of cream coloured head. The head dissipates quickly but does not leave the glass entirely. The clarity of the beer is quite good. There is TONS of pumpkin pie spices on the nose and TONS of pumpkin pie flavour as well. Night Owl is light bodied with a relatively low ABV (5.9%) but it really packs a pumpkin punch with the beer its’ got to work with. It is very clean drinking and you get a slight nuttiness (or seediness as this beer is brewed with pumpkin seeds) on the finish. If you like your pumpkin beers on the pie end of the spectrum this is definitely the one for you.


Elysian’s Night Owl warrants a nine out of ten on the candy-corn-0-meter.





Trick or treating had its roots in Europe. The custom known as “souling” dates back to the 9th century. On All Soul’s Day which is November 2nd, the poor would walk through the villages and go door to door begging for food. They would be given “soul cakes” which is a type of pastry made from bread and currants. They would promise to pray for dead relatives in return for receiving the “soul cakes”.

*Thanks Yahoo for the Hallowe’en Facts

Pumpkin Beer Seventeen, Somewhere I’ve Been

What do you call a vampire 200 miles from a blood bank? 
A cab.


The countdown to the final three pumpkin beers is underway and I see the flickering jack-o-lantern at the end of the tunnel. Fernie Brewing Company’s Pumpkin Head Pumpkin Brown Ale has the dubious distinction of forming one third of this final triumvirate and to be honest I may be tougher on these last beers since I have done my pumpkin homework but let’s give it a go and see how it pours.



Pumpkin Head pours a deep reddish brown with a little bit of haze and tons of cream coloured head; head retention is quite impressive. There is a little bit of pumpkin pie spice to the nose, a squash element and a bit of yeastiness. I am surprised how light bodied this one is being a brown ale at heart. As you drink the dominant taste is the earthiness imparted by the pumpkin, the spices are more of an afterthought but I do get clove on the finish. Like the Red Racer I wanted a bit more from this beer as it felt like a pretender to the throne. For those that like it ‘lite’ you may enjoy this one more than I.


Fernie Brewing Co.’s Pumpkin Head warrants a six out of ten on the candy corn meter.

Pumpkin Beer Sixteen, Light and Clean

Sweet Sixteen. It is almost Hallowe’en and thank goodness since I am getting mighty sick of drinking pumpkin beer. With that embittered and biased preface out of the way allow me introduce Central City Brewing’s Red Racer Pumpkin Ale (I’ll play nice I promise).



Red Racer Pumpkin pours a very, very clear orange with a little bit of off-white head that vacates the premise pretty quickly. The nose is subtle but I think I detect some pumpkin pie spices in there maybe cinnamon and maybe some nutmeg. Red Racer Pumpkin is a light bodied and low ABV (5%) ale that is very clean drinking. Flavour wise you get the pie spices and a touch of bitterness. There was no discernible finish to this one.


If you are looking for pumpkin beer done light, a baby pumpkin beer if you will, this is the six-pack for you, it was kind of like they took one of the big pumpkin beers and cut it in half with water. Don’t get me wrong this is not necessarily a bad thing sometimes you just want a session beer that hints at bigger things but personally I like a beer with a big attitude.


What does a ghost call his Mom and Dad?

His Transparents!


I am giving Central City’s Red Racer Pumpkin Ale six candy corns out of a possible ten.

Pumpkin Beer Fifteen, Porter but Yam Unseen

The fifteenth beer in my pumpkin serial is Lost Souls Chocolate Pumpkin Porter from Parallel 49 Brewing Company.



Lost Souls pours a dark black brown with lots of thick mocha coloured head but the head retention on this one is only so-so. There is a lot of chocolate and a sweet maltiness on the nose. The porter is light bodied for the style but retains lots of roasted malt and chocolate flavour, which give the impression of being heavier and stronger than it actually is (6.5% ABV). The richness of the  flavour continues to the finish and you also get a little bit of ginger. Lost Souls warms well letting the spices emerge, if only slightly. Like the other dark beers that tried to take on pumpkin or pumpkin pie I find that you go looking for the ‘pumpkiness’ in this beer rather than having the pumpkin jump out at you.


Lost Souls is a nice porter regardless of it being pumpkin infused but as a pumpkin beer stacked against it’s brethren I give this one seven candy corns out of a possible ten.

Pumpkin Beer Fourteen, Not so Keen

It is the two week mark into my pursuit for the pinnacle of pumpkin beers and either I am getting really sick of pumpkin or I have hit a dud. Sadly I think the latter is the case for Phillips Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale.



Crooked Tooth pours a very pale orange with some carbonation and sediment. There is little to no head on this beer. On the nose there is an yeasty aroma, which is a little off-putting. As you swirl the glass there are notes of pumpkin pie spices, mostly cinnamon, but they are pretty subtle. Crooked Tooth is the lightest bodied of all the pumpkin beers I have sampled and I do not get much in the way of a flavour profile from this beer. This one seems marked more by what it lacks than what it has going for it. There is no real finish to speak of.


I am pretty disappointed with this pumpkin offering so I am giving Phillips Crooked Tooth three candy corns out of a possible ten.

Pumpkin Beer Thirteen, This One’s Not Routine

Unlucky number thirteen is another unusual take on your everyday pumpkin ale, Elysian Brewing’s Hansel and Gretel Pumpkin Ginger Pilsner.



Hansel and Gretel pours a cloudy pale gold with lots of bright white head. This one is all about the ginger on the nose, there may be other notes in there but the ginger said they could not come out and play. Hansel and Gretel has your typical pilsner qualities but is perhaps a bit hoppier than most while retaining the ginger flavour. The mouthfeel is a bit creamier than I would have expected from a pils and I think this may be the pumpkin coming into play. The finish is quite hoppy and somewhat dry. Like some of the other more unique pumpkin beer styles I was not entirely sure I got the pumpkin element but I really like the idea of this beer.


As a pumpkin beer I am giving this one six candy corns out of a possible ten.




“The name “pumpkin” comes from the Greek word “pepon,” meaning a large melon.”

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