It’s the semifinal round of Bad Rider’s Pumpkindrome. So far, Phillip’s Crooked Tooth and Red Racer Spiced Pumpkin Ale are headed to our three-way finale showdown. Which brew will be the last to join?
The Challengers: Howe Sound Brewing Co.’s Pumpkineater vs. Nelson Brewing Co.’s Organic Pumpkin Ale
The Shock Top versus Red Racer debate came down to craft versus commerciality. Today’s Pumpkindrome semi-final, on the other hand, leaves us pondering a different question.
What matters more in pumpkin spice beer — The spice? Or the pumpkin?
There’s no denying Nelson’s pumpkin is some of the best flavour in the entire bracket, with a just-plucked-from-the-patch freshness. But, the spice in this organic ale is a one-note, almost chemical cinnamon.
Pumpkineater’s pumpkin, meanwhile, is the least interesting thing about it. As I mentioned in round one, the notes of anise, ginger, clove and spices other brewers don’t take the risk on gives this ale a complexity that stays past the first sip, though they also make the squash flavours in the beer harder to locate.
While I’ve tended to defer to beers that prioritize our round, orange friends — it’s not called the Pumpkindrome for nothing — this time around I have to go the other way in my pick.
Pumpkineater was a fan favourite well before the pumpkin trend got off the ground in Canada, and it’s easy to see why it’s held its own among the upstart brews and challengers to the throne. Howe Sound simply makes a more interesting beer, one that held my attention beyond the first glass.
Can it go all the way to number one? You’ll find out soon enough…