Tag Archives: St. Ambroise

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 Eight, A Good First Date

Day 8. I am starting to wonder if I will ever be able to reach into my fridge and drink one of my many non-pumpkin offerings ever again, this makes me a little sad, but I soldier on for the greater good …the greater good.



St. Ambroise Pumpkin Ale is deep amber coloured ale with lots of head on the initial pour. This ale has amazing clarity and your standard complement of pumpkin spices on the nose tinged with just a little bit of sourness. Malt and spices are the dominate flavours when you drink. As it warms the earthy pumpkin element comes to the forefront. Overall a very clean drinking beer; it is pretty light bodied and tastes uber filtered. Not a lot of finish to this beer but I really don’t mind the simplicity makes this one.


St. Ambroise Pumpkin Ale is an excellent starter pumpkin beer; a well-balanced ale with all the right pumpkin and pumpkin pie notes plus it is available at the BC Liqour Stores so you can get it pretty much anywhere.


I give this one eight candy corns out of a possible ten.




The world’s fastest time to carve a face into a pumpkin is 20.1 seconds, by David Finkle (UK), on October 7, 2010 – Guinness World Records

A Pumpkin (Beer) a Day Keeps the Doctor Away


Hallowe’en is one of my favourite holidays – dressing up as someone or something else, eating too much candy corn, watching cheesy horror movies and, of course, the arrival of pumpkin beers!

To honour this holiday in the best beer geek fashion I am going to do a series of blogs reviewing a different pumpkin beer everyday until Hallowe’en.

I have a pretty decent selection in the fridge but I will need some recommendations to meet my goal so feel free to add your favourites to the comments section…


Pumpkin Beers on Deck

Phillips Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale

Tree Brewing Co. Jumpin Jack Pumpkin Ale

Parallel 49 Lost Souls Chocolate Pumpkin Porter

Steamworks Pumpkin Ale

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

Fernie Brewing Co. Pumpkin Head Pumpkin Brown Ale

Parallel 49 Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest

St. Ambroise The Great Pumpkin Ale

Epic Brewing Fermentation without Representation Imperial Pumpkin Porter

Two Beers Brewing Co. Pumpkin Spice Ale

Elysian Dark O’ the Moon Pumpkin Stout

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Pike Brewing Co. Harlot’s Harvest Pike Pumpkin Ale

Southern Tier Pumking Ale

I Am Canadian

When I was a young lass the North American beer scene was a very different animal. Dominated by big breweries producing the only most basic of beers, you did not even consider ordering a beer by style rather you ordered by naming one of the two big brands – I will have a “Canadian” or a “Blue”. Amid this sea of bland lager there was one underlying truism that we as Canadians could cling to, a platitude that kept us warm in the evening and made us feel ever so slightly superior – our beers were made of stronger stuff than the brews coming from our American cousins.

Flash forward to the weekend and I am out and about looking for a patio to drink at. Using some random foodie app I check out Yaletown Brewing Company (YBC) to see what people thought when I came across a review by an American tourist sampling the beer line-up. They prefaced their review by saying they passed over the “Canadian piss beers” and moved straight onto the IPA, which they went on to favourably compare with some of the US microbrewers.

Now hold on just one second, when did Canadian craft beer become piss beer? Has the resurgence of craft beer resulted in a geographical role reversal? Are Canadian microbreweries brewing blasé beers? Are we now brewing the Old Milwaukee of the craft beer scene? Maybe the answers lie in looking at our brewing pedigrees.

From the destitute landscape that was the beer reality of the 1970’s, Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, one of the last remaining microbrewers, was purchased by a good soul dedicated to preserving authentic beer. At roughly the same time, the counter culture movement had begun altering people’s perceptions about how we live in the world. Home brewing, embracing local economies and travel to Europe opened people’s eyes to just what beer could and should be and as they say they rest is history. Craft breweries were steadily popping up throughout the US in the 70’s and 80’s, and by the 1990’s the craft beer industry was growing at 45 percent per year (Mosher 2009). This means American craft brewers have been hard at work for over forty years perfecting their art.

In Canada, we were a little late to the craft beer party, seriously getting on the bandwagon in the 1980’s with microbreweries like Upper Canada Brewing Company in Ontario and St. Ambroise in Montreal. Growth in the craft beer industry has been equally impressive in Canada with British Columbians buying craft beers 12.7% of the time in the early 2000’s (www.cbc.ca). So are these regional differences real or imagined? Perhaps Canadian craft brewers are still testing the waters so to speak, carving out a niche for what will come to define our new national beer identity.

Coming full circle back to YBC, I am sipping lager and my partner brown ale and we both feel the same way; these beers are fine, they are drinkable, but I am not wowed and I want to be wowed. Obviously the challenge for the craft brewer is to keep the customer interested and coming back, which for a growing mass of educated beers geeks means putting out new and challenging product while maintaining a high standards of quality. In many ways I feel like we play it a little too safe here. Call it cultural differences, but American craft brews are assertive, quirky and most definitely challenging while our beers are …well …nice. One of the reasons I often turn to the US craft brewers for my staple beers is that many brewers seem to have found what works for them, they have created a beer identity, and they do not necessarily brew one of every beer style in the guide.

I wonder, what does the “I am Canadian” rant sound like now that we are a nation of craft beer drinkers?

*Thanks to VanCity Love and Barley Mowat for the photos

A Bit About Stout and a Trip to Tokyo

One of my favourite beer styles has to be the stout. As a novice beer geek I tended to shy away from these heavy dark beers but the more I tried them the more I loved them and now I can’t imagine my beer cupboard without them. There is an amazing diversity to the beers that are classed as stouts so I thought I would delve a bit into the history and hallmarks of the style.

Stout beers, as we have come to know them, evolved from the Porter family. According to Mosher, the word stout, meaning a strong black beer, dates to 1630 where it was applied to “stout butt beers”. During the late seventeenth century the term stout was applied to any strong beer until almost a generation later when the term stout settled into its accepted definition as a strong porter. Porters and stouts share many similar elements such as, roasted malts and a deep brown/black colour but stouts differ due to their increased strength. Interestingly, in the past dark beer had a prominent hop quality but this is something that has diminished over time in almost all variations of the style.

Some of the stout sub-styles include Irish Dry Stouts – characterized by the use of roasted barley (think Guinness), Oatmeal Stouts – mmm… cookie (think St. Ambroise), Milk Stouts/Sweet Stouts – originally a drink for invalids (think Rogue Creamery), Extra Stout –fancy stout for export (think XXXXX Pike) and Imperial Stouts – loved by the Russians (think Old Rasputin).

What am I drinking?


Tokyo Intergalactic Fantastic Oak Aged Stout by BrewDog.

The wordsmiths at BrewDog more describe this beer as, “imperial stout brewed with copious amounts of speciality malts, jasmine and cranberries. After fermentation we then dry-hop this killer stout with a bucket load of our favourite hops before carefully aging the beer on French toasted oak chips. Everything in moderation, including moderation itself. What logically follows is that you must, from time [to time], have excess. This beer is for those times”.

I would sum this beer up as an 18.2% knock you over the head then kick you when you’re down, kind of stout. Tokyo pours a deep brown/black with zero clarity. There is so much sediment it looks like bubble tea before it settles down. The bottom of the bottle poured out like spent motor oil – a good sign yeah. Very little head retention. All malt and molasses on the nose with a bit of sweetness. Very creamy mouthfeel and very potent liquor taste. The flavours, much like the nose, are dominated with sweet roasted malt and that subtle sweetness imparted by the casking. Best sipped and served at room temperature. Fantastic occasion beer but not something I could drink all the time.

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