Saturday, October 8, 2011


Pumpkin beer is one of my favourite seasonal beers. I'm a big fan of pumpkin pie, and the excuse to basically drink dessert (with liquor!) is one I can't pass up. So each year, I look forward to Thanksgiving weekend and grabbing a few bottles of pumpkin ales. Of course, the fact that Americans hold their celebration ridiculously late does certainly affect the availability in early October, but it also keeps new stuff coming in through November. Here's a quick run-down of three beers you can find on liquor store shelves in Calgary right now.

St. Ambroise produces beers that are always what the label says. Their Citrouille (aka Great Pumpkin Ale) is no different. The beer pours with a nice orange hue and a present but not overly strong pumpkin flavour. There'a perfect amount of spice in here considering how crisp and smooth the beer is - not too much, not too little. Like a good, light pumpkin pie. This really feels like one for the early fall, when days are still warm enough to sit out on the back step among the leaves with a beer.

A big part of Howe Sound Brewery's schtick appears to be Imperial (strong) versions of beers. I've recently had their Imperial HefeWeizen and their Imperial IPA, and they're good beers. Their Pumpkineater Imperial Pumpkin Ale is very good - it's heavier than the St. Ambroise, not as carbonated, and has extra pumpkin flavour and spice. It's also not as sweet as the St. Ambroise, which means you can have a slice of pie without going into diabetic shock. This one is really nice, and feels more like late autumn.

Post Road, on the other hand, seem to have missed the mark completely. Their beer is almost completely devoid of both both pumpkin flavour and spice. If someone had passed it to me without telling me what it was, I would have thought it was a basic red ale with something else weird but unidentifiable in the mix. Maybe this is the one you want to offer to the cousin who hates pumpkin pie?

It's still a early in the season for pumpkin ales. I'm looking forward to a few more hitting the shelves here in Calgary, especially Alley Kat's excellent Pumpkin Pi (which tastes, sip for sip, like the best pumpkin pie you've ever had).

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