Monday, 31 October 2011

Great Lakes Brewery-Pumpkin Ale

In honour of All Hallows Eve, I decided to review the seasonally appropriate Pumpkin Ale produced by Toronto's Great Lakes Brewery.  I am a huge pumpkin fan, with pumpkin pie being rivaled only by the ambrosial strawberry rhubarb pie for the title of all-time favourite.  The addition of pumpkin to beer is something that I have been seeing increasingly in recent years and it is a taste combination that I heartily endorse.

Great Lakes' Pumpkin Ale is sold in delightfully weighty 650mL bottles.  It weighs in at 5.5% alcohol and pours a slightly murky copper colour.  It is topped by a frothy white head, is considerably fizzy and leaves behind a sudsy white lace.  According to the bottle, the brewing process involves the addition of "generous amounts of pumpkin" directly to the brew.
The aroma is not surprisingly heavy on the pumpkin, but that's not all.  There is a foundational metallic scent and spicy notes of cloves.  The flavour is dominated by the classic copper taste of an English ale.  The pumpkin flavour is present, but understated.  It is a very pleasant addition to an ale that would probably be enjoyable without it.  Additionally, the brew is given an agreeable warmth by the presence of autumnal spices.  According to the label, there are "hints of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and allspice", which sounds about right to me.  While pumpkin doesn't dominate the initial flavour, it is an undeniable element of the bitter aftertaste that lingers after each sip.

Compared to small batch auburn ales, this brew probably wouldn't dominate the rankings, but in the context of flavoured ales, this one is a definite winner.   While the aroma is rich in pumpkin, the actual flavour is richer and more nuanced than expected.  This beer is a welcome addition to a crisp autumn day.
 Happy Hallowe'en from the Stout Man!

Rating: 9.0

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