Tag Archives: Tree Brewing

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 Nine, This One is Fine

I think by the end of this endeavor I will have created an excellent (adult) skipping rhyme…

Well I am nine beers in and the diversity of pumpkin ales has made this task far more enjoyable than I thought when I initially posited drinking a pumpkin beer a day for nineteen days. Luckily there hasn’t been anything undrinkable so fingers crossed that Tree Brewing Co.’s Jumpin Jack Pumpkin Ale continues the streak.



Jumpin Jack pours a deep amber colour with tons of sediment. There is a small amount of cream coloured head that has good staying power. There are hops and pumpkin pie spices on the nose. Jumpin Jack has good body, edging towards a medium bodied ale, which suits the complex flavours happening in this beer. Earthy pumpkin comes through as you drink it and the hop and spices also linger making this one a bit more substantive than some of its’ pumpkin counterparts. The finish has a hoppy bitter quality. Overall another really drinkable pumpkin ale.


I give Jumpin Jack seven candy corns out of a possible ten.

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

Winter Beer-Off: Deschutes Jubelale vs Tree Vertical Ale


There are a lot of great winter beers out there but there are also a fair amount of good ones too. Often I try so many different winter beers over the season that I tend to forget which ones are the best bets for repeat purchase. Barring the crazy knock-your-socks-off standout ales that are so over the top you could not forget them even if you wanted to, I really wanted to revisit some of those winter beers that were highly drinkable i.e. beers you can serve to Christmas company who are not raving beer geeks or beers you can buy in a six pack because you won’t get tired them after one beer. In this pursuit I decided to do a side-by-side comparison of Deschutes Brewery’s Jubelale and Tree Brewing’s Vertical Ale.

Deschutes Jubelale: A deep amber red with lots of off-white creamy head that has great retention. Sweet malt on the nose with a trace amount of bitter hop. Medium body with a ton of malt flavour and a hefty amount of hop at the finish. Overall I am not sure what makes this a winter beer per se. It is a great beer, well-balanced, and definitely representative of the hop-loving style that has come to define the Pacific Northwest. However, the ale seems to need something else to really make you think winter. I would give this beer a 3.5/5.

Tree Vertical Ale: A very clear orange amber ale with a minimal amount of bright white head and a slight effervescence. Vanilla really dominates on the nose and dominates on the palate as well. It is very light in body but smooth to drink. It reminds me of cream soda. Drinks better quite cold. Overall another highly-drinkable beer but I feel like this could benefit from a bit more body to really make it winter ale. Honestly the overall lightness made me think great Spring beer –if there is such a thing. I would give this beer a 4/5.

The obvious solution …blend these two beers together!

The Result: The sum is really better than the parts in this instance. The vanilla from the Tree softened the bitter hop bite of the Deschutes while imparting that unmistakable Christmas taste element. The Deschutes really gave depth to the Tree beer giving the blended beer a distinct malt character and more substance. Very drinkable. I would give this inspired collaboration 5/5.

*Thanks to my neighbour for the picture, the beer and the blog idea!

Hopscotch 2011 ‘I think I saw the Kraken’

So last night I made my annual pilgrimage to Hopscotch. Pilgrimage in the sense that I had to trek from the Main Street Skytrain station down to the Rocky Mountaineer in heels and in the freezing cold; there is something sort of biblical about enduring all that suffering and hardship to be rewarded with beer. Saturday night’s festivities were underway when we arrived, so no line-up, which was good, but it was crazy crowded, which was bad. I am not sure what the Fire Marshall would say but I am thinking if there were any acts of god we would not have been getting out the building too quickly. It is also a major liability when one it trying to carry around there precocious taster glass full or liquor. Onward and upward and armed with my trusty Hopscotch Hit List I went about my merry way to sample the dozen or so beers I had chosen with the occasional divergence into the vodka and whiskey booths.

What I like about Hopscotch: There is a variety of beer and spirits (and cigars!) so you can actually dust off your non-beer geek friends; you get tokens with your admission –in my mind this makes me feel like I am somehow getting more value; the Rocky Mountaineer is a really nice building with tons of windows and high ceilings; pretty impressive Scotch selection; more than a fair share of booths willing to dole out a free sample; well-organized with lots of staff; feels a little classier than beer fest –hello indoor plumbing; liquor store on premise to buy as you drink; Fentimans sampling.

What I don’t like so much: The beer selection is not that exciting with most of the samples being readily available in the BC liquor stores; beers were repetitive from last year; too many people for the space means it is hard to find an area where you can sample without being jostled; nowhere to sit outside the food tent; hard to tell what is available at each booth with the crowds; pours are pretty small for beer (I think they were about 2 oz); the bottom line factoring in ticket price and sample size those are some pricey beers; hard to map your route by the distributor; location makes transit difficult.

It is really tough to given any kind of ranking to beer samples especially when you are mixing beer with spirits so I will give the list of the beers I sampled and then give a few of my favourites. All in all, to the best of my recollections, I tried:

Anchor Porter Beer

Chang Beer

Chimay Strong Ale (Gold Label)

Howe Sound Brewing Co. Father John’s Winter Ale

Grolsch Lager

Green Flash Double Stout Black Ale

Red Racer Winter Ale

Tin Whistle chocolate cherry porter

Whistler Brewing Company Winter Dunkel

Tree Brewing Co. Vertical Winter Ale

Yukon Red Amber Ale


My three stars of the evening were: 3) Anchor Porter 2) Green Flash Double Stout Black Ale 1) Tree Vertical Winter Ale

Hopscotch 2010

Last Saturday I attended my very first Hopscotch an event that has become an annual rite for Scotch, Whisky and Beer drinking Vancouverites.  Initially I had some reservations about the beer portion of festival noticing an absence (or very limited presence) of many of my US Northwest favourites but I had many pleasant surprises and found myself tasting out of my element –a good thing!  So onto the ales; some of the beers I sampled include Delirium Tremens, Jolly Pumpkin’s Bam Biere, Lagunitas Brown Shugga’, Rogue’s Yellow Snow IPA, Granville Island’s Imperial Chocolate Stout, Howe Sound Winter Ale, Whistler Brewing’s Winter Dunkel Signature Series vol. 2, Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale 2009 Vintage, Tree Brewing Co. Vertical Winter Ale and Tree Brewing Limited Reserve Spiced Ale.  For the sake of brevity I will do a sports reel style recap highlighting the memorable moments –for better or worse.

10.Coming in at my least favourite libation Lagunitas Brown Shugga’…wow sweet beer, not sweet like awesome dude, but sweet like drinking a glass of brown sugar dissolved in a mediocre ale.

9.  Rogue Yellow Snow IPA; ah Rogue sometimes I think that you and I will never meet in the middle, either I cannot discern the nuances between your hopped up beers or too many hops drown the other elements.  The former is the most likely case and kudos on the fun seasonal name.

8.  Sliding in at number eight, Howe Sound Winter Ale, nice dark ale but on the whole not remarkable.

7.  Next up one of the two chocolate beers on this evening’s roster Granville Island’s Imperial Stout.  A complex stout with many competing elements; coffee at the forefront, a slight bitterness and just a hint of its chocolate namesake.

6.  Smuttynose made me wait and it was a little warm so it rounds out the bottom half of the list.  I found the barley wine really dominates this ale with its distinct rich liquor taste not letting the great taste notes of the wheat ale come through.

5.  Jolly Pumpkin swings in at five with a strong, cloudy ale containing lots of malt flavour and that somewhat unique taste so often described as barnyard.

4.  One of the two Tree offerings lands at number four.  The limited reserve Spice Ale was the final beer of the evening (and free).  Dark strong ale with a mild amount of spice but to be fair this beer will get another turn at bat since I have one cooling in the fridge.

3.  Third star of the evening goes to (oops did I switch metaphors?) Delirium Tremens the ale that heralds itself as the ‘World’s Best Beer’.  Okay, okay it was good, very good, clean and strong with just the right amount of fruitiness.  I would have no trouble picking out this Belgian from the rest of the line-up and I would not hesitate to pick it up again.

2. Our second star of the evening, and the second kick at the chocolate can, Whistler Brewing’s Dunkel.  Quite possibly the best chocolate beer I have tried.  Dark and slightly effervescent, a malty Dunkel with a prominent chocolate taste.

1. Drum roll please, my favourite of the evening, the only beer to make it to repeat drinking status… Tree Brewing’s Vertical Winter Ale.  Mild ale that is crisp with a nice balance of spice and vanilla. A beer to accompany fireplaces and good books –the benchmark to which all ales aspire, at least in my mind.

Out of a possible five I would give this event a 4.0 (points lost for the ridiculous cab/shuttle situation and lack of options for us vegan beer aficionados; c’mon it’s Vancouver)


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