This week’s Canada’s Craft Beer post comes from our Atlantic Canada craft beer guy, Todd Beal. This week Todd checks out pumpkin ales in the Maritimes, with two to try from Rare Bird and Upstreet Brewing.
In the craft beer world the IPA style is king but a close second is the seasonal beers. One of those seasonal beers that invokes a lot of reaction, good and bad, is pumpkin beer. Seems like you either you love it or hate it and of course clamber to social media to praise or condemn it as a waste of beer. Despite this divide pumpkin ales start appearing even before summer ends and linger until winter has started, with more breweries adding it every year.
Pumpkin ale is not new in North America; it started back when early settlers would use pumpkins and squash to replace whole grains that they lacked. The popularity waned as the availability of grains increased in the 1800s but was reborn in the 1980s with the rise of craft beer. Used initially for pumpkin flavour, it seems some brewers are striving for pumpkin pie beer with the addition of spices including cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and all-spice. Other breweries are adding a plethora of spices and ingredients to make unique brews.
Although I'm not a huge fan of the style, there are a few I enjoy trying each year in my area, so I guess you could say in a way that I am a fan! Here are a couple I enjoyed this year.
Rare Bird Craft Beer - Pumpkin Ale
Rare Bird is situated in the town of Guysborough in the extreme eastern portion of mainland Nova Scotia. It, along with a group of other companies, is the brainchild of Glynn Williams to stem the decline of the area's population by bringing jobs to the area. In fact, they're wrapping up building an eight million dollar plant to house the brewhouse among other things.
This Gold Medal winning ale from the 2014 Atlantic Canada Beer Awards is light copper in colour with a white head. Aroma is sweet malt and spices with the taste being spice, sweet malt and pumpkin. It's a nice crisp pumpkin ale with a great balance of spices, very easy drinking.
5.5% ABV | 35 IBUs | Available NS, NB
Upstreet Craft Brewing - Gravedigger
Upstreet is Prince Edward Island's newest brewery and opened last May in Charlottetown. They had time this fall to brew their Gravedigger Imperial Pumpkin ale. It pours dark amber and has a white head. The aroma is spices and a bit of malt. The ale has the spices dialed back and has a good amount of sweetness. This is a very enjoyable and drinkable beer.
7.5% ABV | 30 IBUs | Available PE
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Todd Beal follows the craft beer scene closely in the Canadian Maritimes and reports on it weekly on his blog, Maritime Beer Report. He is asked to comment frequently on television, newspapers and magazines as a craft beer expert. He can be heard Friday afternoons on News 95.7 commenting on beer. Visit his blog and follow him on Twitter @MaritimeBeerRpt.