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Highballer Pumpkin Ale - Grand River Brewing

Not Rated.
Highballer Pumpkin AleHighballer Pumpkin Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

46 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 46
Hads: 83
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 6.35%
Wants: 5
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Grand River Brewing visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
Pumpkin Ale |  5.20% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Viggo on 09-29-2007

Pumpkins for the Highballer Pumpkin Ale are all grown by our owner Bob Hannenberg in his Garden.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 46 | Hads: 83
Photo of Derek
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Copper-bronze with an off white head, some retention, great lacing.

S: The pumpkin pie spicing is bang on, with some nice biscuity malt (somewhat reminiscent of pie crust).

T: Not as quite as bitter as last year, the hop flavour isn't upfront, and the spicing is perfect. Nice biscuity malt & a slight fruitiness. I think this has surpassed the Great Lakes Double Pumpkin, making it the best local pumpkin of the year. Their water really brings the bitterness forward, and I'd prefer a little residual sweetness (with perhaps a hint of vanilla), but this damn good.

M: Lighter than moderate body with a crisp, fairly dry finish.

D: VERY drinkable. (654 characters)

Photo of heebes
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml bottled on Sep 4th 2012.
5.2% abv.

Pours a rich dark orange with half a finger of light tan foamy head. Nose is brisk with lots of pumpkin, spices, cinnamon, faint hops. taste is majorly pumpkin, cloves, spices and cinnamon, some good barley malt caramel backing, very fresh and full tasting. Good body, peppery mouthfeel, smooth.

Overall a well rounded pumpkin ale from Grand River, spot on this year. (411 characters)

Photo of hopsolutely
4.17/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The 2010 Highballer knocks it out of the park.

Have enjoyed bottle, draught and cask versions and they are all well balanced and nicely spiced. Would highly recommend this beer to anyone who enjoys pumpkin ales.

Much prefer the 2010 release to that of 2009, and strangely enough am already looking forward to 2011... (318 characters)

Photo of liamt07
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from the LCBO, 500ml into a tulip. Bottled on October 19, 2011 - 3 days old.

Pours a reddish orange with a straight white head of about a finger of head, decent retention and good lace. Nice spicy nose, allspice and cinnamon dominate with only a moderate hint of pumpkin. More pumpkin spicing than actual pumpkin itself, but some bready qualities do exist here, large amounts of pumpkin pie crust. Taste has less spicing, but still reflects the nose and takes the breadiness down a couple notches. Mouthfeel is almost watery, fairly light with spice into the finish. A pretty good pumpkin ale, and could've been much better I think if it reflected it's nose a bit better. 4/4/4/3/35

Rereview: Bottle from the LCBO, 500ml bottle into a tulip. Bottled September 4, 2012, reviewd the 30th of the same month.

Orangey brown, just offwhite head. Decent retention and lace. Lots of cinnamon and cloves on the nose, a bit of pumpkin and sweet malt character. Taste has more pumpkin flesh, cloves, cinnamon and a bit of allspice. Sweet and mildly drying finish. Heavier medium body and lower carbonation. Quite a nice pumpkin ale, good body and some flavours that come through real nicely. 4/4/4/45/45 (1,202 characters)

Photo of funkengruven
4.12/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Fresh Growler from the brewery, dated today (October 21, 2007)

This poured a nice dark amber with some head that dissipated quickly. Smell is floral, with some spice in the nose, Pumpkin Pie comes to mind. This is also reflected in the flavor, very fresh, lots of pumpkin in the initial flavor, aftertaste contains an affirmative malt aroma with a touch of hops. Mouthfeel is a touch astringent, likely from the pumpkin, but still very nice.

Drinkable, flavorful, a very good example of this style of ale. I wish Ontario brewers would take on this style more. (562 characters)

Photo of thehyperduck
4.09/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

500 mL bottle picked up at the LCBO; bottled on August 23rd (if I am properly deciphering the smeared code that was stamped on the label). This is one of a very small group of pumpkin ales that I have never heard anything overtly bad about, and thus I've been seeking it out for close to two years now. Finding this fresh bottle in a small town LCBO was a nice surprise. Served slightly chilled.

Pours a bright, crystal-clear orange-amber colour, generating a little less than one finger's worth of dense, smooth, off-white head. It fades quickly, leaving nothing more behind than a thin cap and collar. Some strands of lace cling to the sides after each sip. The aroma is lovely, and (unsurprisingly) rather reminiscent of pumpkin pie. Spicy notes of nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and a bit of ginger are easily detectable, with the underlying malts offering up vibes of buttery pie crust and graham crackers. Not a lot of pumpkin/squash on the nose, but my mouth is watering anyway.

The bite of the taste backs up the bark of the aroma - this is a yummy ale that is a pleasure to drink. A nice, malty backbone of pie crusts and doughy biscuits underlies the central 'pumpkin pie' flavours, providing the perfect counterbalance to the aforementioned spicy notes of cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg. The finish is full-on pumpkin pie filling, with some mild cinnamon and earthy bitterness closing things up. Rather light-bodied, with moderate carbonation that provides a somewhat crisp mouthfeel. Real easy to toss back.

Final Grade: 4.09, an excellent A-. Grand River's Highballer Pumpkin Ale is a sessionable pumpkin ale done properly, and one of the few examples of this style that I'd be willing to drink repeatedly before the season is over. While it doesn't skimp on the spices, it also doesn't go completely overboard into 'potpourri' territory, which is one of my pet peeves with this style (and spiced beers in general). Instead, the spice aspects are balanced beautifully with the malts, causing this ale to come closer to liquid pumpkin pie than perhaps any other I've had the opportunity to try. Great stuff from a great brewery - the perfect pairing for Thanksgiving dinner. (2,193 characters)

Photo of drinkininthewood
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Ive had this beer every year since its introduction ( i still have the bottles to prove it! ) and it never disappoints. So glad to have growlers back from GRB also.

Served from a 500ml bottle in to a Snifter. Bottle Aug 27th 2013

A- Clear bronze color with a fluffy white head of foam that diminishes fast with some lace.

S- The smell is rich with aromas of Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie mix, caramel sweetness with aromas of fresh baked shortbread cookies and pumpkin spice muffins.

T- Rich and creamy. Liquified pumpkin pie with whip cream is the best way to describe it. Nice malty brew with the perfect amount of spices and incredibly well balanced. The nose translates into the palate very well. As you tilt the glass towards your lips the aroma enters your nose and as you sip the aroma and flavors meet with perfect execution.

M- Smooth, medium bodied with soft carbonation that works wonders for the beer.

D- this is hands down one of the most ( if not the most ) drinkable pumpkin beers in Ontario.

Overall Highballer Pumpkin ale has always been good but as the years go on GRB is continuing to perfect this brew. For someone like me who likes more spice and a nice malty chew to a pumpkin ale this is as good as it gets i believe. So fresh and delicious. A few growler fills for thanksgiving are in order for sure. (1,339 characters)

Photo of kwjd
4.04/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright orange colour with white head that dissipates without much lacing. Smells of pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices, some hops and bready malt. Flavour has a nice level of sweetness, but not incredibly sweet like some pumpkin beers. Very well balanced. Medium bodied carbonation. A very nice pumpkin beer. (309 characters)

Photo of mick303
4.04/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

500mL bottle that was bottled 9 days ago, had this after Nightmare on Mill St as a comparison. This was noticeably lighter, an amber brown colour, large visible carbonation and a lot of creamy white head, and really solid lacing. 4

S – ginger, sweet pumpkin, caramel, cinnamon, resembles fresh baked pumpkin pie in a good way. Some pleasant biscuit malt, the pumpkin is sweet and appetizing. Awesome. 4.25

T – a gingery lemony start, with the fresh pumpkin coming across. Pleasant lightness of body, some malt comes through and compliments well, nutty for sure, the pumpkin is there but not as intensely as Mill St. This is a smooth session ale, with light spices, more hops (grassy and fruit, apple, some citrus) and a much sweeter profile. Finish is crisp, malty with a pumpkin twist. Refreshing. 4

M – mild, sweet profile with a full feel, quite sessionable with appropriate carbonation and a balanced profile, leading to a smooth crisp finish. 3.75

Of the two, this one despite the marginally higher ABV seems to be playing it safer spices and making a really tasty pumpkin session ale that I could and would drink all evening (fall?) long. I admire some of the boldness in Nightmare, and theyre both quality beers, this seems to be more of a malty session pumpkin ale. Great flavor without being dominated by pumpkin, and worth trying. 4 (1,352 characters)

Photo of MrHall
4.02/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

500 ml purchase at the brewery - bottled on Dec. 28. I've had this for about a months, and probably waited a little too long to drink it.

pours a clear orange/light amber, small white head that disappears fast with very little lacing (I wonder if that's due to the freshness.)

smells well, like a pumkin ale, nutmeg, cloves cinnamon,

taste is pretty balanced. an early sweet and spicy, followed by the mild hoppy finish.

I actually find the carbonated too light (again, freshness?)

As such, you could probably drink this till the cows come home.

even though I'm drinking it out of season, still probably my favourite Ontario pumpkin ale. (647 characters)

Photo of DaveBar
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Outstanding all around

LCBO for $3.90 less $0.70 missing a label

500ml bottle at 8deg C

A- amber, opens well and pours high

S- Spicey goodness

T- Very good. Enjoyable for the season. Super well blended

M- Nice and tart with crispness to spare

O- Enjoyable. Will buy a few for the winter and spring.

Pretty good little Pumpkin Beer

Food Pairings

You better believe this pairs with... Roast Turkey

With those root veggies and gravy this wonderful beer will match well. Try a coffee desert.
Enjoy (504 characters)

Photo of DrJay
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice orange/gold colour with faint haze. A hard pour produced a one inch cap of off-white foam, but this settled fairly fast to a collar with some spotty lacing on the glass. Pie spices were evident in the aroma as soon as the cap was popped. Cinnamon, allspice, and clove along with some caramel and malt, plus a bit of vegetal pumpkin character. Same in the flavour, but with more of a biscuity malt character and fruity sweetness in the finish. Light bitterness overall, but it was certainly present. Light, lingering spices. Great balance. Medium bodied with light carbonation that ended up giving it a pleasant creaminess. Fairly dry. This is easily one of the best pumpkin ales I've had, and I make it a point to try them whenever I can. I've waited quite a while for my first beer from Grand River and I hope they're all this good. (838 characters)

Photo of demcorhip
3.97/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another 500ml bottle courtesy of Derek. Thanks man! Another good looking brew from Grand River, with a nice, clear, bronzish amber body. Managed 1 finger of off white head that subsided to leave a thin yet decent collar.

A very nice nose on this brew. Pumpkin, caramel malts, and pumpkin spice, led by allspice, then cinnamon and a hint of ginger and clove.

A nice tasting pumpkin as well. Slightly nutty with a touch of caramel, as well as a nice touch of pie crust. A decent yet somewhat mild flavour of roasted pumpkin is enhanced by the use of spice as described above regarding the aroma. A nice clean kick of hop bitterness comes through at the finish.

Almost medium bodied, and quite nicely balanced, especially in terms of spice and hops. Pumpkin spice is strong without being annoying or overpowering, and the nice clean bitterness with a slight woodiness helps, along with the spice, to balance the caramel malt sweetness. A touch more pumpkin and this would be the pumpkin beer bomb.

A nice, drinkable pumpkin ale. I didnt try to many this year, mostly because i didnt notice my favorites from Smuttynose and O'Fallons this year. This brew ranks right up there with them. Highly recommended to fans of the style, as mentioned earlier, the only thing that would take this over the top would be a greater pumpkin presence. Another very solid beer from Grand River. Hopefully we can find a way to get a few cases of their offerings sent up to the Northwest. (1,470 characters)

Photo of slitherySOB
3.97/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a dark golden amber colour with a fingers worth of head that disipates quickly but leaves lacing. Smells like pumpkin pie. Pumpkin, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet malts. Tastes like it smells. LIquefied pumpkin pie. Mouthfeel is smooth and low carbonated with a great overall balance. A delicious beer. (323 characters)

Photo of bobsy
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I tasted this at the C’est What? fall beer fest, and found it to be a good brew. Lovely orange colored pour with a frothy white head. Abundant peach and pumpkin in the nose. Sweet pumpkin and fruit in the flavor, and a smooth finish. A nice fall drink. (253 characters)

Photo of Reinheitsgebot71
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A small off white head reminiscent of milk foam tops medium amber semi opaque body. The retention is low and leaves some ok lacing.

S: Strong pumpkin up front followed by curious fruity scents of unripe mango, chayote and grapefruit rind. Some cinnamon and cardamom spices hide behind roasted pumpkin seeds and dried apple. There is a faint hint of shortbread.

T: A strong amber malt spine supports assertive pumpkin and cinnamon flavours. The rest of the profile is made up of sweet bready tastes; gram cracker and shortbread. There is next to no showing of hops. The carbonation is medium low and the beer coast the mouth somewhat.

A good effort if a little one dimensional. (682 characters)

Photo of bryehn
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on Sept. 14 (5 days ago).

Pours a clear golden-copper colour with a small but frothy white head. Solid, long-lasting collar, but little lace.

Smells of ripe pumpkin, honey sweetened toasted malts and grasses. Very warm and inviting.

The taste is also pumpkin forward. There is a lovely light and fruity ale underneath with a sweet caramel tone. Grassy, floral hops bring earthy and tart characteristics, as well as a mild orange pekoe tea flavour. Subtle spiciness present throughout that comes forward in the finish.

Full-bodied with low carbonation. Dry cracker character on the tongue. Pepper and allspice in the aftertaste.

Quickly became one of my favourite pumpkin ales after a couple days. The pumpkin shines, rather than the spice and it’s extremely smooth drinking. Great with (or in) a stew, crusty bread, roasted meats and, of course, pumpkin pie. (873 characters)

Photo of wordemupg
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into tulip 10/10/12 thanks liamt07 for the bottle

A hazy orange amber with a few bubbles and suspended particles, a noisy thumbs width of foam falls fast and leaves no lace

S ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg with a little pumpkin puree, some bread and toffee with just a little earthy hops in the background

T much of the same really, not over the top with the spices like many pumpkin beers I've had in the past,

M a little thin with prickly bubbles leaving a tingle on the tongue, ginger and pumpkin linger faintly on the finish

O this one worked for me, not heavily spiced and pretty mellow all-around, still beer unlike many pumpkin beers I've had that are almost unrecognizable from all the spicing

Its to bad this didn't show up before my Thanksgiving dinner because it would've been a great beverage choice with my turkey, ham and pie. yup that's right bitches I got turkey AND a ham, living the dream, living the dream (952 characters)

Photo of peensteen
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear copper/amber colour, one finger of white head, no lace. Smell is spicy with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, gram crackers, mineral presence, malt and pumpkin pie. Taste is spicy up front, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, good bitterness, mildly hoppy, biscuity malt, spicy finish and aftertaste. Medium carbonation, medium feel, decent mouthfeel. This is quite enjoyable, subtle but still full flavoured, will probably grab a few more of these this season. (462 characters)

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the UW Grad House. I wasn't as impressed with the bottle version this year, but on tap, this was some quality stuff! Keg was tapped previously that afternoon.

Poured into a Grand River ale glass. Amber copper, about a 1/2 inch head, terrific retention. Every sip yielded sheets of lacing, with patches scattered here and there. Looks terrific.

Nose is primarily that of spicy pumpkin pie, with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and molasses asserting themselves, and with pumpkin and malty sweetness providing the backing.

The taste is quite good for a pumpkin ale - really hit the spot on a cold, rainy October day. Pumpkin flavor was rich and hearty, a touch of molasses and piecrust, with nutmeg and cinnamon proviing a sharp spicy tang. Finishes clean with a slight hop bitterness. Keeping the whole thing in check was a lovely red ale base, malty and crisp. Quite enjoyable, and not an artificial-tasting flavor in the lot.

Mouthfeel is creamy, with an assertive carbonation that peppers the tongue with spicy goodness.

I've had this ale three different years now, and I've got to say that Rob and Bob have nailed it with this year's edition, at least on tap anyhow. Rich, satisfying, but drinkable (as far as a pumpkin beer goes). All the great flavors of pumpkin pie, but with enough of a pale ale base to make it easier to down a pint or two in an evening. A fine effort! (1,390 characters)

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at volo.
Served in a pint glass.

A - Poured medium orange. Slightly hazy with a small amount of off white head.

S - Pumpkin, cloves, nutmeg and a hint of cinnamon.

T - Pumping pie! Pumpkin, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.

M - Medium body, smooth. Light carbonation. (276 characters)

Photo of FRANKIE65
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Wasn't sure what to expect from my first pumpkin beer. What I got was a very good sipping ale. Wouldn't want to drink more than a couple at a sitting.
Would I buy it again...heck, yeah! (186 characters)

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this at C'est What at the Fall Beer Festival.

The pint is served cloudy with a creamy smallish head. Loads of lace coats the glass. The mouthfeel is incredibly smooth, I need to drink more cask ale. The aroma is nutmeg, pumpkin spices and thick sweet malts. The taste is spicey and very much like a pumpkin pie. Pithy, vegetal pumpkin flesh has a subtle presence. Hops are very restrained with a mild bittering effect on the malty finish.

This is a very nice pumpkin ale. Very full bodied and creamy. The pumpkin spice tends to take too much focus away from actual pumpkin flavors though. (594 characters)

Photo of mrnobody
3.84/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into a Grand River pint glass.

A: Pours a clear amber with a thin white head that quickly disappears. No lacing.

S: Smells of nutmeg, pumpkin and brown sugar.

T: Not particularly sweet tasting. One can taste some of the spices but they're not overwhelming. There is a bit of hop bitterness in the finish.

M: The mouthfeel is light to medium with medium carbonation.

D: The drinkability is pretty good for a pumpkin beer. (445 characters)

Photo of HopHead84
3.82/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Consumed on 8/28/09 and poured into a snifter. I received this as an extra somewhere along the road so thank you to whoever gave this to me. The beer pours dark gold with a creamy white head and scattered lacing.

The nose comes across as authentic and is one of the best I've beheld on a pumpkin ale. Notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice are immediately noticeable. This smells like fresh pumpkin pie. The malt is crackery and biscuity.

The flavor isn't quite as good. It's spicy like the nose, with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and some clove. The malt is biscuity and the finish is dry. No alcohol is noticeable. (619 characters)

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Highballer Pumpkin Ale from Grand River Brewing
85 out of 100 based on 46 ratings.