Saturday, October 20, 2012

Analysis: Three Pumpkin Beers II

In October of 2010, I reviewed three seasonal pumpkin beers. A few years ago, I sampled the Howe Sound Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Brooklyn Brewing's Post Road Pumpkin Ale, and Granville Island Pumpkin Ale. Of these three, I liked the Howe Sound Ale for its rich nutmeg flavour and warming 8% abv. Last week, I tried three different pumpkin beers to ring in the fall season. I tried these with my girlfriend and family, and we sampled them through a blind taste test. Let's just say we easily reached a consensus.

1) Tree Brewing - Jumpin Jack Pumpkin Ale    
From bottles of their Mad Cap White Ale to tallboys of their Thirsty Beaver Amber, I have never enjoyed the beer made by Kelowna-based Tree Brewing. I just don't like anything about them: I hate Kelowna, their branding is tacky, it tastes like they use adjuncts, and their beers are flabby and one-dimensional. Having said this, pumpkin ale is definitely one of my favourite flavoured beers, so I was eager to try Tree's Jumpin Jack. This beer is highly carbonated and super sweet. The nose is dominated by brown sugar and cinnamon, and there is very little evidence of pumpkin being the bouquet or the flavour. There was zero lacing on our glasses and the beer was a nondescript amber colour. If a Tree fell in Kelowna, would anyone give a care?

2) Phillips Brewing - Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale 
Smooth and more pumpkiny than spicy, this is yet another stellar beer by Phillips. This is my favourite BC brewer, and I'm always excited to try their seasonals. Unlike many autumn and pumpkin ales, Crooked Tooth is only 5% abv which makes it really easy to enjoy one (or two) of the 650ml bottles without getting squashed. It pours a hazy light orange and the yeast used results in a moderate, creamy head. There is little evidence of hops in the finish, yet this comforting ale finishes clean. A

3) Steamworks Brewing - The Great Pumpkin Ale
Recently available in liquor stores, Steamworks beer is equally tasty in bottles as it is straight from the vats in their downtown Vancouver brewpub. This beer has a similar profile to Tree's Jumpin Jack - the copper/amber colour, the small head, the emphasis on spice rather than pumpkin - but Steamworks actually knows how to make a well-balanced beverage. Despite the brewery adding "100 lbs of pumpkin directly to the mash", nutmeg and cloves dominate the palate with this brew. This is pleasant though because the malt and squash cut the spice and provide the beer with a biscuity taste. Not amazing, but well made. B-

Keywords: "BC pumpkin beer", "Alex Dawkins", "Phillips Crooked Tooth"

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