It’s that time of year again: a chill in the air, scarves and boots, and of course, pumpkin spice everything. And I mean everything. So when the liquor store shelves began filling up with pumpkin spice beers, it was time to investigate. With almost every micro brewery producing a fall beer, it only made sense to wade through the lot, and suss out the good, bad and the ugly (tough job but someone had to do it). We picked out five and got down to business.
Collective Arts Sour Pumpkin Saison $3.45
Don’t overlook the word sour, this stuff packs a real pucker. But once you get past it, it’s actually a neat little beer. Reminiscent of the sour Belgian beers that are also wildly popular right now, this pint brings a fun seasonal twist to a style that has been around for centuries. Good for a festive sip, but probably not a drink all nighter.
Score: 3/5 Pumpkins
Amsterdam Autumn Hop $3.00
Hoppy as heck, but will make any IPA lover smile. Crisp and lightly bitter this is beer was easy to drink and full of flavour. My only complaint: there wasn’t really anything to set it apart from other IPAs that are on the market year round. Was it yummy? Sure was. Was it memorable? Not so much.
Score: 4/5 Pumpkins
Big Rig Tales From The Patch Pumpkin Porter $2.75
I think I had the highest hopes for this one. As a diehard porter lover, I was imagining something rich, sweet, like a cold pumpkin spice latte of sorts. I was way off. It felt light and stringy, like uncooked pumpkin guts. The acidity was over the top for a porter, and there was no characteristic creaminess. It may have been the first time I’ve ever done this but it was right down the drain for this festive brew. I should mention that besides this rare miss, Big Rig is a phenomenal brewery and has hit it out of the ball park with all of their other creations.
Score: 1/5 Pumpkins
Parallel 49 Schadenfreude $5.90
Made with Munich malt, in a traditional Oktoberfest style, this pint knocks it out of the ball park. Rich in texture with little hints of pumpkin, and cinnamon, this flavourful treat hits at only 5% abv. so it’s easy to drink (maybe too easy). It comes in a 750ml bottle, but the price is still a little steep for mass consumption – I assure you it is worth every penny. The winner of the taste test for sure!
Score: 5/5 Pumpkins
Samuel Adam’s Oktoberfest $14.95 (6 pack)
For comparison sake we decided to throw in an import. Similar in style to the Schadenfreude, the Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest is creamy and full of candied fruit and toffee flavours. A little happier than it’s Canadian counterpart, but still easy to drink, and offering lots of seasonal spice. However, we tried this last, right after the Schadenfreude, so there was it was tough competition. The American was good, but you just can’t compete with Canada on this one.
Score: 4/5 Pumpkins
The verdict? Kind of like pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice beers are fully of flavour and novelty value. It’s exciting to see what craft breweries come up with each year, and fun to test out the good. It’s back to our old stand by on our next trip to the store, but for one night, it was a fun experience.
Has anyone else done some taste testing this season? What have you tried? Any different opinions on these ones?