Suddenly, out of the turbid waters, a pumpkin appeared.
Rating: 84 points
Stats: Spiced Beer. 5.2% ABV. Cambridge, Ontario.
Size: 500mL bottle
Colour: Deep straw, golden
Mouth Feel: Medium-low carbonation; medium mouthfeel.
Pairing Notes: A light Indian curry.
With the bar now squarely set, I approach the third in the Great Pumpkin Ale challenge with this one from Cambridge, Ontario.
So let’s get right to this one. The beer pours with a decent but relatively short lived head — not at all uncommon it seems in the style. Off the nose, there is little to take in, some light malts and a bit of pumpkin, but not a lot. Still, all things considered, promising start in as much as I can at least smell pumpkin. There are no spices to speak of, however. Interesting, I thought. That first taste? Nothing really. A bit of wheat, a tinge of residual sugar, and so you keep drinking until the beer hits the middle of the palette which is where everything starts to happen for this beer. Finally, pumpkin — I mean, really pumpkin. If you’ve made your own cooked, pureed pumpkin, you’ll know what I mean. It’s a special taste — truly, it’s the taste you’re looking for I would argue. This isn’t a pumpkin pie ale as so commonly afflicts this seasonal style — this is pumpkin ale. The pale malts that round out this flavour are mellow and smooth and very creamy, but not overly full. This is a beer that has hit the balance in terms of specific gravity with a nice medium feel. It isn’t until the end that the spices emerge, light and subtle, not at all a smack on the tongue with a cinnamon stick. Again, I applaud the restraint with a bit of cinnamon, some ginger and nutmeg to round out the end before the beer disappears as quietly as it began.
This is a very good example of the style, I have to say, and there are huge strengths to this beer. Like McAuslan’s, this is a beer that esteems balance and has clearly put the pumpkin in the bottle. It’s a beer I’d buy again, that is for sure. But does it set the standard? No, McAuslan’s St-Ambroise is still the standard, largely because it has better structure from beginning to end — but some of you, those of you that don’t like pumpkin pie, may well prefer this well-crafted offering from Grand River Brewing.
Read more Beer Reviews here.