Taste Test: Which Brewery Does Pumpkin Beer Best?

Our judges put some seasonal favourites to the test.

Our judges put some seasonal favourites to the test.

Some may say it’s gone too far, but the pumpkin spice trend isn’t going anywhere. And our local craft breweries are all in. Here’s what happened when we asked three expert judges to find the best pumpkin beer in town.

Best in Show

Pumpkineater Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Howe Sound Brewing

Howe Sound’s pumpkin ale checked all the right boxes: “It’s got a nice rich body, a bit of acidity—it’s a well-balanced beer,” said Dhaliwal. Our other judges agreed, praising the beer’s malty nose and pie-like flavour profile (read: caramelly, toasty and biscuity). $9, 37801 Cleveland Ave., Squamish, howesound.com

Honourable Mention

Pumpkin Porter, Bridge Brewing Company Our judges expected this dark, chocolate-brown porter to be overpowering, but were pleasantly surprised upon taking a sip: “It’s not super in your face,” said one. Mellow notes of vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg perfectly complement the pumpkin flavour in this fall brew. $5.60, 1448 Charlotte Rd., North Vancouver, bridgebrewing.com

Runners Up

Pumpkin Oktoberfest Schadenfreude, Parallel 49

P49 scored some points for brewing the most pumpkin-y beer of the day. But unfortunately, its method for doing so didn’t sit right with our judges: “It has the strongest pumpkin spice vibe, but in a syrupy, Pumpkin Spice Latte way,” said one. $12 for 6, 1950 Triumph St., parallel49brewing.com

Red Racer Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Ale, Central City Brewers

Inspired by the snickerdoodle cookie, Central City’s pumpkin ale intrigued our judges, but they were confused by its strong “ginger-forward” taste. That said, each of the panellists enjoyed the beer’s radler-esque quality: “It’s light and refreshing,” commented Frank. $5.50, 11411 Bridgeview Dr., Surrey, centralcitybrewing.com

Pumpkin Ale, Steamworks

Steamworks’ seasonal ale didn’t have enough pumpkin spice flavour for our judges, but that didn’t stop them from enjoying the beer itself: “I’m not getting a ton of pumpkin flavour, but I like the beer,” said Carey. “It’s got a nice caramel note to it, some tartness and acidity.” $5.50, 375 Water St., steamworks.com

Meet the Judges

Chester Carey, general manager at Brewery Creek liquor store and founder of the BC Beer Awards, brought a sophisticated, I’ve-tasted-it-all palate to the judges’ table.

Sabrine Dhaliwal is the former bar manager at Uva (and a past VanMag Bartender of the Year!). Cocktails are her forté, but she can “appreciate a well-made pumpkin-spice anything.”

Anastasia Frank is a research manager at UBC—and our Twitter contest winner! She enjoys pumpkin beers because they combine the freshness of a summer brew with the depth of a dark winter ale.

 Did we miss any of your faves? Share your top pumpkin beer pick with us in the comments!