Jacey Gibb
The Other Press

New Westminster (CUP) — Fall is coming, orange leaves on the ground, blah blah blah whatever else. Let’s get to what’s actually important about October: pumpkin ales. What started as a novelty beverage has sprouted from liquor store shelves like weeds in the summer, but it’s a difficult recipe to nail: not too heavy, with enough pumpkin flavour to make an impression and not overload the taste buds. In order to help you navigate the pumpkin ale landscape, I took the liberty of trying five of the season’s most popular beer. Yeah, you’re welcome.

Pumpkin Head (Fernie Brewing):

This is the perfect example of a seasonal beer gone wrong. It favours the spices over the pumpkin and is way too heavy. I’m not sure why the beer comes in 650-ml bottles because you won’t be able to get past the first couple gulps. When I pointed out the heaviness and lack of drinkability, my girlfriend suggested that the Pumpkin Head would be ideal for sharing with a group of friends. Fortunately I don’t hate my friends so I wouldn’t do that to them.

Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale (Phillips):

Like most Phillips’ beer, the Crooked Tooth has a pleasant taste and a nice casual flavour, but doesn’t have anything special going for it. Unlike most of the seasonal beer that I tasted during this article’s writing, the Crooked Tooth would be the one I could actually see myself drinking a lot of.

Spiced Pumpkin Ale (Red Racer):

For those of you looking for pumpkin pie in a pint, look no further. Easily the most drinkable of the batch, the Spiced Pumpkin Ale is everything you look for from a seasonal beer: something you could consistently enjoy for a month and still be left looking forward to its return next year. This pumpkin carriage won’t take you to the ball, but it’ll take you to hangover city no problem.

The Pumpkining (Granville Island Brewing):

Similar to the Red Racer, GIB’s take on pumpkin beer is a touch subtler than I’m used to. It lacked the harmonious balance of spices that the Spiced Pumpkin Ale offers, but isn’t as heavy of a beer as some of the other misfires. I wouldn’t purchase it again, but I wouldn’t be offended if someone offered me a bottle at a party.

Pumpkin Ale (Steamworks):

Probably the maltiest of the pumpkin beer I tried, it’s heavier than what you’d normally expect from Steamworks — but not in a bad way. What makes the beer memorable is the lingering pumpkin aftertaste, which starts out overbearing but mellows off into a faint trace. If you can handle the first hurdle, then the finish line is worth it.