12 October 2017

Polk's 2017 Pumpkin Picks

  Every year the cooler weather signals a return to school, routine and the coming of fall. It also means the endless debate picks up where it left off on a seasonal beer that never stops dividing the craft beer community with its spicy, pumpkin goodness. As you can tell, I fall on the pro gourd side and have boldly set off to rank all the LCBO available Pumpkin beers in 2017 as a public service to my friends. Because as the self appointed Ambassador of the Pumpkin Ale, it is my duty (again, self appointed) to try and quantify what we find as this spiced up fall treat hits the shelves. There are many different options available at your local breweries, so be sure to check them out as well. I had quite a few not in the LCBO but have left them off the list as they are not as easily obtained and I wanted to showcase what most of us have available.
  I know all ratings are subjective, so feel free to disagree with me and come up with your own list. As always, I try to rate to both style and what the brewery has told us about their beer. I've included a snippet of my Instagram review for context. Raise up your goblet and embrace the continuing Pumpkin apocalypse!

1. Saison DuPump - Great Lakes Brewery ($5.95/650ml Bottle)Polk's Rating - 4.25/5
 Pouring a cloudy but brilliant orange, it has that fluffy white head we associate with all GLB beers. Smells of light pumpkin, banana and clove. On the sip, crisp and fruity with banana, orange, bubblegum and clove up front before the pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon come calling. It's super well balanced and it is easy to see why my friends who don't like pumpkin beers love this beer. Sticky with more citrus on the finish, it lingers banana, orange and once again a light spicy pumpkin. Grab this one if you really want to see what a genius can do with Pumpkin beer. ABV - 5.2%

2. Paranormal Imperial Pumpkin Ale - Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery ($4.95/473ml Can)
Polk's Rating - 4/5
  This one is a big old slow sipping beauty. It pours a orange caramel colour with a thick and long lasting white head that lingers the whole way through. Smells spicy with a pumpkin kick. On the sip, smooth toasted biscuit cracker malt body that is loaded with nutmeg cinnamon, allspice and of course, delicious pumpkin. Sweet notes and a bit of a boozy finish with more spicy cinnamon and pumpkin rounding out this unique and delightful seasonal treat. Find one for yourself and get your freak on! ABV - 10.0%

3. Pumpkin Ale - Great Lakes Brewery ($4.95/650ml Bottle)
Polk's Rating - 4/5

 Pours a deep orange with a white head that fades to a wisp on the surface. Smells of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and pumpkin. On the sip, it has a smooth biscuity toasted malt body and loads of pumpkin pie flavour that I almost wish I had whip cream. A tonne of pumpkin, spicy cinnamon, allspice, clove and nutmeg with a dry pumpkin and clove finish. Lingering with a mishmash of all those great fall flavours, finishing with a spicy cinnamon kick. Props to Great Lakes for keeping this one real and bringing it in at the same price every year. Legendary! ABV - 5.5%

4. Highballer Pumpkin Ale - Grand River Brewing ($3.25/473ml Can)
Polk's Rating - 4/5

  Pours a brilliant orange with a white head that fades but lingers on the sides. Smells of pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon. On the sip, a graham cracker crust malt sweetness in the body, balanced pumpkin pie and spices with allspice, clove and nutmeg before the spicy cinnamon and pumpkin on the backend. Easy going and smooth with a lingering mix of the gourd and spice. Stepped up this year! ABV - 5.2%

5. Wild North Pumpkin Ale - Lake of Bays Brewing ($3.15/473ml Can)
Polk's Rating - 3.75/5

  Pours a clear amber with a white head that lingers a bit. Smelling pumpkin, caramel and spices. On the sip, smooth bready toasted malt body with a nice caramel gent, pumpkin and then the allspice, nutmeg and spicy cinnamon backend. It's sticky and sweet with a nice vanilla note that gives it a pie like finish. ABV - 6.0%

6. Sour Harvest Saison - Collective Arts ($3.75/473ml Can)
Polk's rating - 3.75/5

 Pouring a cloudy orange with a quickly dissapating but fluffy white head, it smells of sour fruit and light pumpkin. On the sip, tart and spicy with a nice dour lemon front, pumpkin, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. It's got a citrusy and spicy finish with a lingering tart and pumpkin pie flavour. Enjoyable and not your average pumpkin beer. ABV - 5.0%

7. Tales From the Patch Pumpkin Porter - Big Rig Brewing ($2.95/473ml Can)
Polk's Rating - 3.75/5

  Pours black with a light tan head that fades to the side. Smells sweet, chocolate and spicy with some subtle pumpkin. On the sip, smooth roasty body with a nice creamy milky texture, sweet chocolate, pumpkin, nutmeg, allspice, clove and a spicy cinnamon that is giving some heat to the finish. I wasn't a huge fan last year, but I think I understand it better this year. Nice and not your average pumpkin beer. Like a slice of spicy chocolate and pumpkin pie.  ABV - 5.8%

8. Pioneer Harvest Pumpkin Ale - Black Creek Historic Brewing ($3.25/473ml Can)
Polk's rating - 3.25/5

 Pours clear amber with very little head, smelling of pumpkin, allspice and cinnamon. On the sip, smooth bready malt, pumpkin, allspice, nutmeg, clove and cinnamon. The finish is more allspice a little heat from the cinnamon and a lingering sweetness mixed with pumpkin spice. ABV - 5.0%

9. St. Ambroise Pumpkin Ale -  Brassarie Mcauslan ($2.90/473ml Can)
Polk's Rating - 3/5
  Pours a deep copper colour with a thick off white head that fades quickly. Smells of pumpkin, clove, allspice and nutmeg. On the sip, smooth bready caramel malt body with a heavy clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice combining with a sweet pumpkin note for a heavier feel. It's a spicy and sticky backend that has some heat from the cinnamon and lingering clove, nutmeg and pumpkin finish. Heavy on the spice, not my favourite but I could see someone liking it for its bold use of spices. C'est La vie!  ABV - 5.0%

  There you have it. Love or hate them, pumpkin beers have become a staple in the seasonal craft beer rotation and I imagine we will see more of them as the industry continues to grow.
 If you want to know more about how/why I rate beers and a little more check out Rating & Reviewing (My Take on the Numbers)

Raise your glass and your standards,
One beer at a time!

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