Highballer Pumpkin Ale - Grand River Brewing

Not Rated.
Highballer Pumpkin AleHighballer Pumpkin Ale

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

83 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 83
Reviews: 46
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 9.02%
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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Ratings: 83 | Reviews: 46
Photo of Sammy
3.15/5  rDev -16.4%
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.

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.72/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

Photo of HopHead84
3.82/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

Photo of biegaman
3.4/5  rDev -9.8%
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.

Photo of liamt07
4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
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

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.88/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

Photo of Derek
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%
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.

Photo of DrJay
4/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

Photo of Viggo
3.43/5  rDev -9%
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.

Photo of wordemupg
3.92/5  rDev +4%
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

Photo of spinrsx
3.47/5  rDev -8%
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.

Photo of kwjd
4.04/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

Photo of jrenihan
3.77/5  rDev 0%
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!

Photo of bobsy
3.95/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

Photo of peensteen
3.92/5  rDev +4%
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.

Photo of SebD
3.72/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

Photo of pootz
3.77/5  rDev 0%
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.

Photo of mick303
4.04/5  rDev +7.2%
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

Photo of thehyperduck
4.09/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

Photo of hopsolutely
4.17/5  rDev +10.6%
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...

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.9/5  rDev +3.4%
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!

Photo of DenisKolkin
3.76/5  rDev -0.3%
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.

Photo of mrmanning
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
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.

Photo of DaveBar
4/5  rDev +6.1%
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

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Highballer Pumpkin Ale from Grand River Brewing
85 out of 100 based on 83 ratings.