Canada Kicks Ass
Pour a pint of pumpkin


kitty @ Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:49 am

Food pairing: Pumpkin pie; roast turkey or chicken; pork roast.
Price: $4.95/650 ml bottle
Where to buy: LCBO
The verdict: A good accompaniment to a holiday meal.

Most people's culinary experience with pumpkin is in pie form. Some folks have also been known to enjoy a tasty pumpkin soup or just some plain old baked pumpkin. Mention the idea of pumpkin beer and, odds are, people will look either puzzled or horrified.

For the past decade or so south of the border, however, craft brewers have been busy working away, tossing the orange fruit (it is indeed a fruit, in botanical terms anyway – you can look it up if you like) into their kettles.

The good folks at Etobicoke's Great Lakes Brewery decided to join them. Great Lakes' Pumpkin Ale was released to the LCBO late last month.

It is a light orange-hued ale. The aroma, especially when the beer isn't ice cold, is lovely. It smells quite a bit like a pumpkin pie, actually, with aromas of spice and some pumpkin. That spice – which comes from the nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and allspice used in the brew – is in the taste as well.

There's a hint of sweetness in the brew but neither the sweetness nor the spice notes are overwhelming, as is the case in some American examples of the style. That was by design, says Great Lakes salesperson John Bowden, who helped develop the recipe.

"We didn't want it to be over the top. We wanted people to be able to have more than one glass of this if they wanted to."

On the other hand, the Great Lakes Pumpkin Ale has much more of a pumpkin character than some pumpkin beers, which can be easily overwhelmed by the spices.

The pumpkin used in this beer is grown in southwestern Ontario and is dried by the farmer into something like a pumpkin jerky, for lack of a better term. In that form, it's able to better lend its colour and flavour to the beer, Bowden says.

While there's a smiling, one-toothed jack-o'-lantern on the label, this pumpkin ale would be as much at home on the Thanksgiving dinner table as it would be as a tipple while handing out candies to trick-or-treaters.

The bit of sweetness, for example, pairs nicely with the caramelized skin of a roast turkey (and sweet potato), while there's enough bitterness – thanks to the spice and a bit of hops – to allow the beer to stand up to accompaniments like herb stuffing.

And, of course, it would go pretty darned well with a slice of pumpkin pie.



Blue_Nose @ Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:52 am

Too cool - I hope our LC will be stocking this, it'd be an interesting one to try!


kitty @ Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:11 am

i am going to make a stop after work and see if i can find it. It looks so yummy :D