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  • Writer's pictureMcGoo

Battle Pumpkin Beer

When the weather cools and the leaves start to turn, my wife, well...she changes. It's like the opening scene of a low budget horror movie:

A cool breeze blows across the warm summer night. An old farmer sniffs the air as the grey muzzled blood hound at his feet howls into the darkening sky. “The change is coming” he whispers in a gravelly voice.

A single red leaf tumbles across the driveway of a suburban home. 

Inside, a loving, understanding and surprisingly handsome husband walks through a dimly lit kitchen towards the fridge. From the corner of his eye he spots an empty pumpkin spice ice Capp on the counter. A concerned look grows across his face as he reaches for yet another hazy IPA.

He turns back towards the family room, beer in hand, and is startled by the lit pumpkin cheesecake scented candle on the coffee table. It wasn't there just moments ago. Beside the candle is a can of Anderson's Pumpkin Ale, emptied, with only the imprint of her rose wine lipstick marring the rim. The room spins as he realizes it's all around him; a scarf here, moccasins there and plaid everywhere.

The change had taken over so suddenly, so quietly. It was too late to save her. She literally, and I mean literally, cannot even.

When she said to me "Go to the LCBO and buy all the pumpkin beers" I said ok because she scares me (see story above). We wanted to have some fun trying these beers and weren't sure if we could down 6 cans of pumpkin beers between us. So why not invite our craft beer loving neighbours over for the official "Battle Pumpkin Beer"

The Competitors

We chose pumpkin flavoured beers available in London Ontario area breweries and LCBOs. Beyond the obvious pumpkin, the flavour profiles often include traditional fall flavours such as cinnamon, all spice, clove and nutmeg backed by toasty malts and low bitterness.

Anderson Craft Ales Pumpkin - "This is fall in a glass"

Aromas of toffee and cinnamon. Taste of caramel toasty malts, cinnamon and all spice. Pumpkin flavours hidden in the background but apparent. I have since had this on tap and it displayed a much larger pumpkin flavour profile.

Lake of Bays Brewing Pumpkin Ale - "Kinda pumpkiny"

Nice roasted toffee malt aromas with tastes of light caramel, toasted pie crust with light cinnamon and vanilla. Likely the least pumpkin flavours of the group.

Great Lakes Brewing Pumpkin Ale - "Sneaky Pumpkin"

Bright cinnamon and light pumpkin aroma. Caramel bready malts remind me of pumpkin pie crust, loads of cinnamon with a light earthy hop finish.

Flying Monkey's Paranormal Imperial Pumpkin Ale - "Drunk Pumpkin Pie"

Huge pumpkin pie aromas with pumpkin spice and vanilla. Pumpkin pie in a can, with toffee malts, pumpkin spice, vanilla and brown sugar. The high ABV added to a warming effect. A dessert beer that will knock you out faster than the turkey.

Big Rig Brewery Tales from the Patch Pumpkin Porter - "Take this pie out of the oven!"

Big roasty caramel and vanilla aroma. Creamy mouthfeel leading to deep caramel and pastry crust with vanilla and cinnamon rounding out with a smooth pumpkin finish.

St. Ambroise Pumpkin Ale - "This pumpkin is sad"

Sweetened apple cider vinegar and spicy hop aroma. Taste is light cinnamon and pumpkin spice, caramel malts and clove. Underlying apple cider vinegar tones.

Battle Pumpkin Beer Results

To make things simple, we ranked the competitors from favourite to least favourite based the following criteria: The best representation of pumpkin and traditional fall flavours and which are you likely to purchase again. Lowest score takes the win.

1st place - Flying Monkey's Imperial Pumpkin Ale

2nd place - Anderson Craft Ales Pumpkin

3rd and 4th place Tie - Big Rig Pumpkin Porter and GLB Pumpkin Ale

5th place - St. Ambroise Pumpkin Ale

6th place but still delicious - Lake of Bays Pumpkin Ale

We enjoyed all of these beers much more than we initially thought and would be happy to drink any one of them again. In this battle every pumpkin beer was a winner and no ale was left behind, unless you are Flying Monkey's Imperial Pumpkin Ale which ran away with the win.

Regardless of occasion, I encourage everyone to have their beer loving friends over for a tasting. Buy a bunch of unique beers and even have them bring some of their favourites. You might as well make a party out of it, because it's going to turn into one.

Stay Positive and drink good beer.

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