BEER BRAWL – Pumpkin Ales Face-off
In a world of pumpkin spiced everything, it was inevitable that craft beer breweries would jump in on the seasonal trend. This is the first time for me to try some of these pumpkin beers and I’m terrified.
You see, I don’t like the taste of pumpkin, or squash, or any type of gourd. In fact, I only know two people named Gordy and I hate them both. That’s probably not the best mindset to dive into four different pumpkin induced beers at once, but I’m committed to give them a chance. Worst case scenario: I die and get to haunt the breweries involved in this pumpkin craze.
Here are the spooky challengers stepping into the ring in an attempt to make me cheer for their success
Crooked Tooth by Phillips Brewery and Malting Co. (Victoria, BC)
Phillips brings out two pumpkin beers simultaneously every year and they choose to name them as similar as possible to confuse everyone who just wants to know what the fuzz is about. One’s “Crooked Tooth”, the other’s “Crookeder Tooth”. I chose to only look at one of them because I have enough on my plate.
Crooked Tooth is a 5% pumpkin ale, or so it claims. The flavour comes closer to that of ginger spiced beer, and although it is a little malty it has a flat aftertaste. A good pumpkin beer to start with, since it won’t overwhelm you with flavours, but for fans of this trend it might be too boring. Despite its underwhelming flavour, this beer seems to be massively popular because it sells out extremely fast. Phillips are very consistent with bringing it out every year, so if you missed it, you’ll get a chance next time.
Pumpkin Ale by Steamworks (Vancouver, BC)
If you don’t enjoy the taste and price tag associated with craft beer, you will at least enjoy the creative names and labels. Steamworks seemed to have missed the memo on that with their “Pumpkin Ale”. This one is stronger than its other contenders with 6.5% so at least you can get a decent buzz out of it and forget the lazy naming. Again, there is no pumpkin flavour here and it is also the least “spiced” beer of today’s candidates. But it is light on the malt flavour, which I appreciate a lot.
Seriously, though, just “Pumpkin Ale”? What a squashed opportunity.
Snickerdoodle by Red Racer (Surrey, BC)
That name makes me giggle every time I say it. Snickerdoodle, hahaha, I’m a child. Anyways, this pumpkin ale brings the alcohol content back to 5% and resembles the flavours of Phillips’ Crooked Tooth, only the taste of spice lingers a bit longer with this one. Seems like the guys from Red Racer have figured out a way to make their beer have a more prevalent flavour AND a fun name. Trouble is, this still doesn’t taste like pumpkin.
Fourth from the North:
Schadenfreude by Parallel 49 (Vancouver, BC)
This one grabbed my attention by purely having a German name and Oktoberfest aesthetic (they even spell the month of October in German, so extra points). Instead of a single bottle, this beer comes in a six pack, which is a huge commitment if you don’t know whether you’re gonna like it or not. But I always judge a beer by its cover, so it had to be done. Whether it’s my German bias or the actual quality of the beer, this one is my favourite out of the four selections. Like its German name suggests, it takes pleasure in your pain. It tricks you into thinking this is a malty beer and then surprises you with a bitter end. Of course it has the inevitable pumpkin spice that doesn’t taste like pumpkin at all, which is a relief to me now that I have finished all of the beers. No gourd flavours whatsoever, I was scared for no reason.
When we throw all these beers in the ring, the result is quite surprising. All of them have a very similar flavour, some are more prevalent than others, but none stand out by tasting completely different. This is only a big deal because not a single one of those beers achieved what I would call a “pumpkin flavour”. I’m pretty sure you can peel off the labels and it will reveal last year’s Christmas themed ginger spiced beer. In the end, that’s what they all taste like. Maybe the thought behind this was that pumpkin is indeed disgusting and has no place in beer, but in order to market it as a fall seasonal, they have to slap that false name on their labels. Is this what pumpkin spiced latte’s taste like, too? Have we all been fooled into thinking we like pumpkin flavour when in reality it’s just ginger? How deep is this conspiracy going and where does it end? Who is behind this ginger spiced agenda that tries to sneak into our lives through every season of the year?
Oh, by the way, the Schadenfreude pumpkin beer won.