Nine pumpkin ales (and one red wine) to try this Halloween


Pumpkin ale lovers rejoice: October is here, and that means all those lovely seasonal pumpkin-flavoured craft beers are available once again.

Here’s a quick and handy guide to Vancouver- and B.C.-produced pumpkin ales that will help usher in Thanksgiving and Halloween and ease the way into winter. The beers are available in government and specialty liquor stores.

Howe Sound Pumpkineater (8%) – “A high-gravity pumpkin ale brewed with barley, fresh roasted pumpkin, hops, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, water and yeast,” according to the Howe Sound website. The beer is produced in very limited quantities each fall. Awards include the 2012 Bronze Medal in the North American Beer Awards and the 2012 Bronze Medal in the Canadian Brewing Awards. Suggested food pairing: savory and sweet items. Try it with cheese, nuts, and pumpkin pie.

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Granville Island Brewing The Pumpkining (6.66%) – The website description reads “Tasting notes: smells like fresh pumpkin pie. Pumpkin flavours with dashes of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves create a lingering finish. Food pairings: Its unique spices complement roasted meats and winter vegetables.”

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Cannery Brewing Knucklehead Pumpkin Ale (5%) – “A Knucklehead is a type of pumpkin that is distinguished by its gnarly warts,” according to the Cannery Brewing website. “The Knucklehead pumpkins are grown locally for us by Medley Organics at Covert Farms in Oliver. We roast the pumpkins with brown sugar at the Kettle Valley Station Pub and brew them with traditional fall spices to make this gnarly brown ale. The roasted Knucklehead Pumpkins bring a rich mouth-feel and a touch of sweetness to this traditionally spiced brown ale.”


Red Racer Spiced Pumpkin Ale (5%) – Apparently, this locally produced craft beer is one of the first pumpkin ales to launch in B.C. The Central City website promises that “this year’s batch is better than ever, crafted with the addition of pumpkin and select spices producing a premium ale of intense flavour and rich, creamy warmth. A great pairing with any holiday feast.”

Red Racer Pumpkin Ale

Parallel 49 Brewing Company’s Schadenfreude – The official description: “We’ve carved out a pumpkin Oktoberfest even Ichabod Crane would love. This hearty, malty lager is warmed by the mighty pumpkin and lifted with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice and ginger.” One reviewer, at, writes, “A very flavourful pumpkin Oktoberfest by Parallel 49. Well balanced pumpkin and spice flavours that remind you of Thanksgiving and the fall season. Definitely pick this one up if your a fan of the style.”

parallel 49

Steamworks Pumpkin Ale (6.5%) – Official description: “A malty spiced ale brewed with pumpkin pie spices & 100 lbs of local pumpkin mash. Our most popular seasonal ale.” Mike’s Craft Beer writes, “The beer pours a copper colour with a white head. The aroma consists of malts, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, spices and an overall sweetness. The flavour is of malts, cinnamon, nutmeg, spices, pumpkin, sweetness and a mild hops bitterness in the finish.”

Phillips Crooked (5%) and Crookeder Tooth (7.3%) – Get these seasonals while you can – especially the kick-butt Crookeder Tooth, which is already sold-out in some specialty shops (it’s not available in government stores at all). Commercial description: “Crookeder Tooth is brewed full-bodied with loads of fresh pumpkin and then carefully aged in selected freshly-emptied whiskey barrels. The result is a slightly sweet, gently spiced brew that blends fresh pumpkin flavours with soft velvet vanilla.”

Phillips Crooked

Russell Brewing Company’s Happy Jack – Unfortunately, there’s nothing on the Russell website about this one, although offers this as the commercial description: “A wonderful balanced Pumpkin Ale [sic], with a hint of oak and spices, make this refreshing beer ideal to share with friends. Single-batch brewed with real pumpkin whole spices and aged with oak.”

And, for the non-beer drinkers out there…

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Ravenswood Besieged – The label alone makes this an ideal Halloween sipper. Available in Western Canada for the first time in limited release, Besieged is a blend of Petite Sirah, Carignane, Zinfandel, Syrah, Barbera, Alicante Bouschet and Mourvèdre primarily sourced from Sonoma County vineyards. According to the official description, “The name Besieged was born under a cover of dark rainclouds and cracks of lightning. Working alone, winemaker Joel Peterson collected grapes as ravens cackled and circled above. Ravens, often thought as harbingers of doom, are actually incredibly auspicious creatures, masters of bending and folding of time and space so that one is in exactly the right moment at the right time. Ravens cast light into the darkness and a sighting means magic is imminent.” Edgar Allen Poe would be proud!


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