Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and select auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Highballer Pumpkin Ale - Grand River Brewing

Not Rated.
Highballer Pumpkin AleHighballer Pumpkin Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

47 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 47
Hads: 87
Avg: 3.79
pDev: 12.14%
Wants: 4
Gots: 6 | 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.
View: Beers (21) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 47 | Hads: 87
Photo of BGDrock
2.75/5  rDev -27.4%

Appearance: bright, light copper, not quite clear; head does an ok job of sticking around

Aroma: kind of funky, real pumpkin aroma like pie filling, with some cooked apple, caramel sweetness, spices accompanying it

Taste & Mouthfeel: thin and watery is the first impression, with little carbonation - there's no backbone; light flavour, barely anything to speak of, just hints of spice and caramel, nominal pumpkin; minerally

Overall: a boring brew, feel led astray by an interesting aroma, may as well have been a glass of water; not worth the time

 552 characters

Photo of mikemands
2.96/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

head dissipated fast,
smells fair, not too pumpkiny, more like a patch of uncut pumpkins
taste little pumpkin, little caramel, little...cinnamon/ginger? kinda flat
feel is also somewhat flat, little carbonation, pumpkin taste is the only thing left, but faint and fleeting.
overall not too bad, like a low carbonated pumpkin ginger ale, probably my fault, this beer was bottled almost 5 months ago

 399 characters

Photo of Sammy
3.15/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A malty-spicy aroma. A slightly brown appearance with lace and decent head. High carbonation. Sourish taste that barely let out the spices. Not much of any flavour came out, indicative to me of injection and end of batch or not good batch at all.On-tap at Cask Ale Fest Volo 2007.

 280 characters

Photo of markaberrant
3.28/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - light amber, very clear, some sediment chunks (could be settled out spices), white head, good retention, some lacing

S - big pumpkin spice nose, the usual suspects, peppery, not hot, but almost phenolic-like, some sweetness backing it up, no hops

T - very dry, almost no residual sweetness, spices are balanced and not bitter, which is surprising considering how dry this is, but still have that phenolic taste, and low bitterness. Almost no aftertaste. This honestly tastes like a really bland, bone-dry ale, with almost no hops, and some spices.

M - body is medium, carbonation medium, creamy, overall ok.

D - This really doesn't deliver on what I'm looking for in a pumpkin ale

The spices come off as phenolic, and there is absolutely no sweetness to round things out, which is absolutely critical to me with a spiced beer. I realize this isn't the freshest example (7 months old), but this is a huge letdown.

Thanks to Viggo for the bottle!

 954 characters

Photo of Mit
3.3/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

s-Pours a nice dark amber with minimal head.

a-pumpkin, banana, spices(nutmeg, clove)

t-Earthy, spicey, pumpkin flavours coming through. Aftertaste reminded me of a nice pumpkin dessert bread.

m-solid, not watery in the least.

d-very drinkable, could have a few of these.

Had a Great Lakes Pumpkin earlier in the day and found this to be very comparable.

 360 characters

Photo of cmadd
3.4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Half a finger of white head. Disappears quickly, leaves no lacing. Clear amber leaning to yellow.

S: Nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice with some earthiness. Grassy pilsner hops in the background.

T: Sweet cinnamon, squashy pumpkin and hard water earthiness holds the finish. This earthiness really dominates the beer and is very characteristic of Grand River. Almost no hops, what is there is very light and grassy. In the late finish the sweet pumpkin comes back; nice touch.

M: Light carbonation. Very nice.

O: Pretty decent, but nothing particularly remarkable.

 564 characters

Photo of biegaman
3.4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Highballer, like nearly all other pumpkin ales, is orange in colour. Its tone, however, is a little square, without any highlights and only when held directly against the overcast autumn sky does it, by contrast, appear at all luminous. Its complexion is crystal-clear as a lager. Its carbonation is too weak even to support the beer's slinky, soapy outline.

The aroma get's my approval - it is well perfumed, but not overly perfumed. Spices are appreciated but can't be pin pointed, which is good because all I care to be able to do is acknowledge (but not catalog) them. The savoriness wafts gracefully beneath the nose along with a good portion of caramelly sweet, biscuity, nougat-y malts.

I've drank enough Grand River to recognize a certain 'house character' of theirs, I speak of a distinguishing maltiness that is chunky and enthusiastically bready. That particular brand of maltiness is perfectly suited for pumpkin ales because it almost starts to emulate the doughy taste of pie crusts. And add a lovely graham cracker flavour to boot. Yum.

But the mouthfeel is a tremendous let down. It reveals not even a trace of savoriness or spiciness, not a trickle of caramel sweetness, not any of the doughy maltiness. I was optimistic things would improve with warmth but the glass is reaching room temperature with little changes to note. I hate to use the 'W' word but, frankly, this is watery.

Session ales don't have to be watery or weak in flavour, Grand River has proven that with a regular lineup of exceptionally brewed mild and lower alcohol beers. Unfortunately few of the brewery's seasonals, this included, have lived up to that standard of flavour and character. Highballer Pumpkin Ale is a nice beer, just fine for a fall-time pint or several, but (at least in bottle) it's far too feeble to earn the high marks.

 1,835 characters

Photo of Viggo
3.43/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at C'est What? Festival of Small Brewers. Nice to see brewers here doing some pumpkin beers for the fall.

Pours a slightly hazed golden orange, thin white head, few lace spots, head disappears to a thin wispy ring. Smell is sweet, caramel, light pumpkin, spices, not bad but slightly weak. Taste is more of the same, light caramel and pumpkin, spice, weak finish, just spicy, pumpkin doesn't really come through in the flavour. Mouthfeel is thin, light bodied, low carbonation. Not bad, but leaves me unimpressed.

 521 characters

Photo of spinrsx
3.47/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle from the Ottawa LCBO for 4$

Appearance - Clear copper colour with an average size fizzy beige coloured head. There is a lot of carbonation and there is some fair lacing. The head lasted for around 2-3 minutes.

Smell - Malts, cloves, all spice, pumpkin

Taste & Mouth - There is an above average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caramel, and all-spice/clove. There is also some pumpkin and a bit of a rustiness. It ends with a malty and spicy aftertaste.

Overall - Not the best seasonal beer by any means, but a solid effort from this brewer nonetheless. I won't be shelling out another 4$ for more but I'm glad I gave it a shot.

 656 characters

Photo of mrmanning
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle from the brewery- Slightly hazy, deep gold pour pours a frothy beige cap. Nose of pumpkin pie spices...nutmeg, cinnamon, some allspice, a bit of coriander, followed by earthy malts. Tastes of hoppy pumpkin pie with all the aforementioned spices. A bit of caramel malts with fresh hops leading to the finish. Bitter, spicy, good.

 342 characters

Photo of kevinlater
3.7/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle into nonic pint. "Bottled on: 2014/AUG/22", consumed on september 12, 2014

a: extremely transparent deep golden yellow. just under a finger of white-ish head

s: has a mild but nice sweet malty pumpkin aroma with the slightest hints cinnamon and gingerbread

t: malty all around with flavours of cinnamon, pumpkin, nutmeg, and gingerbread here and there. i think i just tasted some apple notes too. a very easy-going bitterness on the back end to balance things out, along with lingering but mild spice and pumpkin flavours

m: light-to-medium mouthfeel, slightly watery, mild carbonation

o: my first pumpkin beer and a very pleasant one

 655 characters

Photo of cratez
3.7/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle at Chancey Smith's in London, Ontario. Packaged on October 13th, consumed three days later. Very fresh!

Appearance: dark orange body with brown hues and a thin layer of white film on top. Not much head or lacing, but the colour is intriguing.

Smell & Taste: aromas of pumpkin pie, buttery crust, cinnamon, and nutmeg, with hints of clove. Taste is identical, though the pale and caramel malts produce some wheat cracker and biscuit flavours towards the end. Nicely balanced malty-sweet aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: medium palate with spicy carbonation. Smooth in the body, drying parched finish.

Overall: a tasty, straightforward pumpkin ale with appetizing flavours and aromas. No real twists, though, aside from the crackery-wheaty-biscuity flavours. I think a stronger hop presence would add more complexity, and distinguish this brew from other pumpkin ales. Still, this is well worth a quaff in its current form.

 925 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.72/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: poured a clear deep copper color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and not much lacing. Aroma of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg are well balance. Taste is also a well balanced mix between some ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg with not much pumpkin per say abut a nice and easily drinkable caramel malt backbone. Body is about average with good carbonation. Very well done with great balance and easily drinkable.

 426 characters

Photo of SebD
3.72/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: It has a nice deep golden/amber color to it. It has a thin white head that dies down somewhat fast and leaves some lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitly give out hints of pumpkin and spices (cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon).

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a some pumpkin but not as dominant as the aroma, some cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon and some malts.

Mouthfeel: It has a low carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with good flavors and aromas.

 529 characters

Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.72/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brewed October 13th and dropped on me by biegaman, thanks; it got lost at the back of the fridge until now. On opening, there is a hazy, featureless orange hue under a one finger beige head that appears that it will stick around (alas it didn't, at least not for long). There is a tangerine fruity smell at first that gives way to cinammon-spicy odour that generally pleases. Big flavour in the mouth with cinammon, nutmeg, allspice, pleasant low bitterness and hops, refreshing cleansing mouth and a malt that weighs in on the lingering finish. Medium to light body for the style, not overpowering, rightfully labelled a pumpkin ale and although not the best I've tried, it certainly has potential as a sessional for that time of year. Decent brewery in my experience, not a bad pumpkin ale either.

 799 characters

Photo of DenisKolkin
3.76/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

500 ml bottle served cold into a Murphy's pint glass. Purchased for under $4 CDN.

Appearance - Pours a pumpkin colored beer that is hazy. A half finger of white frothy head rests on top. Minimal lacing and visible carbonation.

Smell - AN earthy pumpkin aroma dominates. A bit of caramel some spice as well as a general dankness. Works really well here.

Taste - Plenty of pumpkin, not as much of the spices as was picked up on the nose. However some cinnamon and spice is noticeable throughout. Well balanced and more of an earthy pumpkin flavor rather than pumpkin pie.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, yet somewhat thin tasting. The spiciness stays in the mouth and perks things up a bit. Weak carbonation.

Overall - Very solid pumpkin ale, quite tasty with great aromatics and good flavor. More earthy and squash tasting that pumpkin pie flavored, but its a nice change of pace as far as pumpkin ales go.

 903 characters

Photo of Stocean1
3.77/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a one finger head into a big wine glass - nice orange amber colour - little lacing and poor retention. Lots to note for the smell. Banana, pumpkin with bubblebum up front. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves. Taste follows the nose but not nearly as strong as the smell led me to expect. Light body with little carbonation. Slightly bitter and very easy drinking. Overall, this is a fine brew although I would have loved the taste and mouthfeel to be a little bolder.

 463 characters

Photo of jrenihan
3.77/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled Sept 4, 2012.

Beer is a slightly hazy copper colour. Smallish off-white head. Fades fairly quickly to a film.

Nice smell. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and pumpkin. Some bready malt and grassy hops.

Taste is good, and very similar to the nose, though not quite as nice. Pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger. Spices are very prominent. Grassy hops there as well. Well balanced. Has the characteristic Grand River flavour that I cannot quite describe, but I expect has to do with the water.

Medium bodied, moderate carbonation.

Overall, pretty tasty!

 556 characters

Photo of pootz
3.77/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Fresh sample from the brewery:

A shimmering dark amber-gold in color with a decent 2 finger white cap

Aroma is distinct and interesting...you get spice (cinnamin/nutmeg) over some fruity esters ( peach-strawberry) and a nice whiff of crystal malt that carries the musty botanical tones of pumpkin.

Pumpkin is less defined in the flavor which is a very tasteful blend of spices and savory hops, bready-sweet malts with light fruit/pumpkin tones...all in a extraordinary balance where none over power the other. Finishes slightly bitter but pleasant. The 5.2% ABV makes this a satisfying and more substantial ale.

A very decent ale and a good attempt for this brewer’s first specialty offering. My favorite ale from GRB so far.

 730 characters

Photo of Kremlock
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on September 14th 2012, drank on October 21st 2012.

A: Dark copper in colour. Pours a 1/4 inch head that collapses to a ring around the glace.

S: Smells like unspiced pumpkin, a bit of caramel followed hint of vanilla

T: Taste is opposite of the smell, more spices less pumpking. Spices are spicy cinnamon, pure vanilla bean and ripe pumpkin. There is a nice bitterness that starts and follows through all the way.

M: well carbonated, smooth feel on the palate. Nice dry finish.

O: Carbonation is high enough to cut into the flavours of the pumpkin. Spices and hops are well balance and the finish is nice and dry. I much prefer dry and bitter pumpkin ales vs the more maltier and sweeter ones.

 707 characters

Photo of HopHead84
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
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

Photo of GodOfBeer
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle from the LCBO. Pours a deep slightly hazed orange, thin white head that fades away, absolutely no lacing...

Smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie, all the good stuff pumpkin beer should smell like.

Not too strong on the spices, more lagerish than anything. Grassy, bready, somewhat buttery and finishes with cinnamon spices and slightly hoppy bitter finish. Not much body, seems kind of watery but still pretty good.

Overall decent but for a pumpkin beer, but nothing special.

 494 characters

Photo of mrnobody
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
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 FRANKIE65
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
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 +1.6%
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

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Highballer Pumpkin Ale from Grand River Brewing
85 out of 100 based on 47 ratings.