As it is the season, and in honor of this past Halloween, I decided to get my hands on some bottles of this year’s batch of pumpkin ale. The first two come from right here in beautiful British Columbia, specifically from the Longwood and Central City Brewery. And, as might be predicted, the results were a little mixed. Whereas one was a combination of styles that didn’t yield the best results, the other was a straightforward pumpkin with no surprises, but plenty of appeal.
Longwood Full Patch Pumpkin Ale:
I have to admit that what I have tried from the Longwood brewery, as opposed to the brewpub which is still only available within Nanaimo, has been kind of hit or miss for me. And this beer falls into the latter category. As a strong, pumpkin Saison ale, it seems to be attempting to do many things at once. And unfortunately, this leads to some degree of confusion in terms of the beer’s taste, smell, and general character. To look upon it, one would get the impression it was a brown ale. The nose is distinctly that of pumpkin ale, boasting the same spice palate as pumpkin pie. But in the flavor department, it packs some heavily roasted malt, reminiscent of baked bread and a hint of caramel, but is then overpowered by its alcohol content. And that impression lingers, right until the end!
Appearance: Dark brown, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
Taste: Strong, roasted malt, allspice and pumpkin, bitter alcohol bite
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and alcoholic bitterness
Red Racer Pumpkin:
Red Racer is a brewery that I’ve come to count on to get things right, really, really right in fact. And their pumpkin ale was certainly no exception, as it had all the right features of this seasonal ale. A good orange-amber hue, a varied nose packed full of pumpkin pie and allspice, and a flavor to match. Admittedly, it was somewhat light in this last department, at least when compared to what I’ve come to expect from a pumpkin ale. These tend to be slightly sweeter, maltier and spicier than your average pale ale. But this beer managed to pull that off well enough while also being very clean-tasting and refreshing. And after the rather heavy-hitting customer that preceded it, the value of this was certainly not lost on me!
Appearance: Deep orange-amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malts, hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
Taste: Smooth malt, light tang, hints of pumpkin and mild spice
Aftertaste: Lingering malts, clean finish
More to follow from this year’s batch of pumpkin ales, and some more installments on my beery adventures from Ottawa. Stay tuned!