Thursday, October 28, 2010

Analysis: Three Pumpkin Beers

Although I have written about the joys of seasonal beers in the past, I just couldn't resist expressing my passion for the autumn's pumpkin beer selections. I have consumed and enjoyed three pumpkin microbrews this fall, and all three are surprisingly unique. Try them out this year...or remember to keep your eyes peeled for them next October and November.

1) Howe Sound Brewing - Imperial Pumpkineater Ale
This is an imperial ale, meaning that it was designed with English, colonial beer-making in mind; therefore, it contains high alcohol (8.0% ABV) and a fair amount of hops. Both alcohol and hops are antibacterials, and they would help to preserve beer when it was being shipping from the UK to the colonies. This beer takes a little getting used, as it doesn't pull any punches with the pumpkin and nutmeg flavours. It is sweet, rich, and actaully makes for a pleasant dessert beer (I can say this because I've tested it!). A

2) Brooklyn Brewery - Post Road Pumpkin Ale
This dry, subtle ale is successful in balancing the sweetness from the roasted pumpkin with appropriate hops. At 5.0% ABV and mild spice notes, it is more drinkable yet less distinctive than Howe Sound. The aroma is rich in clove and pumpkin, but it definitely does not taste as bold as it smells. By the end of my first bottle, I was bored by this beer...especially after experiencing the autumnal fury of the Pumpkineater. C+

3) Granville Island Brewery - Pumpkin Ale
I often drink and promote Granville Island beers because they are close to my home and work; however, I am not the biggest fan due to the Pilsner hops they use in everything and the watery consistency that many of their brews demonstrate. Their seasonal beers are pretty good though (I actaully love their ginger beer), and this is a decent drink with its mellow cinnamon and pumpkin undertones. This beer is very malty, yet a combination of the Post Road and the Pumpkineater. Having said this, I don't know if I would drink it if it weren't on tap, right next to my work, calling yearningly to me at the end of every shift. B-  

And remember: Drink. Local. Beer.

Keywords: "Alphabet Review", "Alex Dawkins", "Granville Island Brewery"


  1. thanks for falling to the pressure and posting prior to halloween.
    Did you give the Red Racer a try. With it's cycle culture I thought I was sure to like this one, but it was CRAP!! Think Pilsner with a pumpkin tweek. . . I would have to try it again, but it is hovering in D land. In fact I didn't even finish it and I can't remember the last time I left a half full beer to be tossed. I may require a predrink of draft from the legion to pull this bad boy out of failing territory. . .

  2. Having tried the Granville Island and the Howe Sound, I think your grades are pretty accurate.

    The Red Racer pumpkin beer deserves whatever new grade they're giving to the really dumb kids in school now that they don't give out F's in order to preserve their self esteem. I never finished the six pack I bought last year, which is unheard of. I'm saving the rest for unwanted house guests or for use in some future practical joke.

    Steamworks downtown made some pretty good Pumpkin beer this year. Very smooth and mildly spiced. Not quite as big, bold, and impressive as the Howe Sound, but probably a solid A- or B+.

  3. Ahhh, Steamworks. I never thought about them, but it makes total sense since they usually have a rotating selection of seasonal beers. A friend just told me that Quebec's McAuslan Brewery also produces a pumpkin beer called 'The Great St-Ambroise Pumpkin Ale' better live up the the unnecessarily long name!

  4. Despite being able to get a few of Howe Sound's bottles down here at the supermarket, their pumpkin beer isn't one of them... Curious to taste, so you'll either have to bring one down, or I'll make a trip across to the liquor store in White Rock.

    I can say that the best pumpkin beer I've had is the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.

  5. I've only had Dogfish's pale. Just avoid that Red Racer! Thanks for the tip J.