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Great Lakes Pumpkin Ale - Great Lakes Brewery

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Pumpkin AleGreat Lakes Pumpkin Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

97 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 97
Reviews: 63
rAvg: 3.53
pDev: 14.73%
Wants: 11
Gots: 4 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewery visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
Pumpkin Ale |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
In our pursuit to bring you the most flavourful and unique beers possible, we are proud to release this tasty autumn ale. Handcrafted with an assortment of specialty malts and hops, we added a generous amount of pumpkin directly into the brew. Combine this with hints of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and allspice, and you've got a beer that you won't soon forget. Rich, satisfying and slightly spicy, our seasonal ale goes perfectly with your favourite dessert or traditional feast. But like fall, Pumpkin Ale comes but once a year!

(Beer added by: Viggo on 09-29-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 97 | Reviews: 63 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SuperSnake
4.15/5  rDev +17.6%

I really liked this beer.
Pours deep orange with a carbonated foamy head that settles to a light cap on the top of the beer.

light cinnamon spicy smell close to a light pumpkin pie smell.

About the same as the smell more spicy with the slightest pumpkin flavor

very smooth and lightly carbonated

Only 5.5% so very seasonable and would love to do so

SuperSnake, Oct 01, 2010
Photo of korguy123
3.05/5  rDev -13.6%

Bomber into DFH Signature Glass.
Part of the Halloween release at the LCBO.

A- Clear rich amber pour, Carbonation is surprisingly light. Two finger white head, lacing is good.

S- Pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg. All smells are quite subtle and muted. Very bland as far as pumpkin beers go.

T- Spices and pumpkin almost non-existent. Brown sugar, vanilla with a slight bitter aftertaste.

M- Thin feeling slight carbonation bite.

D- Good, but one bomber is enough for me.

Overall little disappointed in this one. Was expecting more of a pumpkin smell and taste from this one. First year for pumpkin beers, and first year for this one and I have to say this is the weakest out of all the ones I've tried so far.

korguy123, Sep 28, 2010
Photo of heebes
3.2/5  rDev -9.3%

Welcoming in the fall season.
Pours a light gold colour, some head which dissipates quickly. Good amount of carbonation.
The nose is strong, I could smell the beer upon opening. A spice aroma is dominant. Cinnamon and pumpkin also present.
The taste is a little weak, tasting more like an ale than any sort of major flavoured specialty beer. It's a bit sour to begin with the light pumpkin and spice flavour lingering.
Again, light mouthfeel. Watery texture, a little underwealming.
Overall this is a rather average take on the pumpkin ale. I would have preferred a more flavourful and upfront spice taste. For whats available at this point in ON though, it's a great change of pace!

heebes, Sep 26, 2010
Photo of kwjd
4.2/5  rDev +19%

Yay for pumpkin beer season! I have been waiting for 10 months for pumpkin beers to come back. It is a shame that we don't just assign another month, say April, to be the mid-year pumpkin month so at least it would be twice a year. Anyways, on with the review...

Pours a deep golden orange with thick white head. As the head dissipates, still leaves a small ring on the top of the beer with spotty lacing around the glass. Smells of beautiful pumpkin pie - nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and other assorted spices. Some hops and bread malt too Flavour has mild bitterness with sweet pumpkin pie. This is my favourite of the Great Lakes seasonals.

kwjd, Sep 12, 2010
Photo of Luk13
2.55/5  rDev -27.8%

Bottle. Pale orange pour with thin white head. Good spicy aroma, cloves, cinnamon and definite pumpkin aromas. Taste is rather mild, still some candycane, spice and a very earthy kind of bitter finale. Watery mouthfeel. Not a fan of pumkins and rather hard to drink.

Luk13, Feb 19, 2010
Photo of PEIBeerGuy
3.25/5  rDev -7.9%

It pours a clear amber / deep honey colour. Lots of head which dimples and drops at a medium pace, leaving some lacing.

It has a sweet smell, similar to some raspberry wheat ales I've had. A bit of the cinnamon or clove also comes out.

Pretty good taste - a bit of that sharpness or sweetness that I get from some fruit ales or beers with yeast still in the bottle. At first, it tastes like a fairly normal ale, perhaps a bit too fruity for my liking. The middle part of each sip is where the pumpkin comes out, but it's more raw pumpkin / "warmed-up Jack-o-lantern" than it is pumpkin pie, which I expected / was hoping for. The end of each sip, and afterwards, is when the spice comes out. It's the best part of each taste.

It feels OK in the mouth... not too watery; fizzy. But not overly.

As for drinkability, it's alright. One 650ml bottle is enough.

PEIBeerGuy, Jan 24, 2010
Photo of NightINgale
3.8/5  rDev +7.6%

A - Clear light amber/gold body with a nice fluffy light-tan head. Nice head retention and impressive lacing. Moderate carbonation.

S - Not a very strong smell overall. Floral, with a nice pumpkin base and a fair amount of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove). Some caramel notes.

T - I could definitely taste the pumpkin right away, followed by a moderate spiciness and a touch of caramel. Some floral hop bitterness was also present. The taste finished in a fair amount of spice notes, as well as some bitterness and light sweetness. As it warmed up, I started tasting more peppery notes from the allspice. The pumpkin taste was also getting stronger with time.

M - Light-to-medium bodied. The carbonation makes the beer crisp.

D - Not bad at all. This is not the most drinkable pumpkin beer, though.

NightINgale, Nov 23, 2009
Photo of Reinheitsgebot71
3.85/5  rDev +9.1%

This is great lakes fall seasonal offering I've had it a few times but never reviewed it, so here we go.

It pours a clear golden orange much akin to honey, with a thin white head atop.

Aromas of pumpkin (surprised surprise) and grassy wheat first hit the nose. Bread and honey/corn syrup notes make a showing along with hints of clove. There is an underlying scent of wet leaves which seems a tad strange.

Hop bitterness is the first flavour to strike the taste, quickly followed by some malt sweetness and what can be best described as dry crackers. The bite of cinnamon and clove can be detected in the aftertaste. Additionally some subtle pumpkin flavours pop up but it adds much more to the body then the actual taste. As with most pumpkin beers there is a fine mouth feel gently coating the tongue providing a smooth slightly viscous sensation.

This is a decent pumpkin beer, tasty and easy drinking, with the characteristic fine body.

Reinheitsgebot71, Nov 18, 2009
Photo of mrmanning
3.63/5  rDev +2.8%

Bottle LCBO tasting- Pours transparent orange with an off white cap of froth. Lots of spices in the aroma. Ginger and cinnamon pack the first punch, and nutmeg is the runner up. There's some bready doughy aromas as well. Mild burnt malts. No real pumpkin aroma, but that's ok, it's nice. Very delicate spiced flavour, ginger and corriander, nutmeg, cinnamon with some mild rosemary and bitter hops. Mild tongue tingle in the finish, lots of spices and bitterness.

mrmanning, Nov 12, 2009
Photo of Seanstoppable
3.28/5  rDev -7.1%

Dropped off recently by friends from Ontario. They got to sample the local pumpkin ale, I got to try this one in exchange.

Opening the bottle results in an outpour of foam. Pouring into the glass results in a slightly hazy muted orange color with 3 fingers of white head. Head slowly evaporates and is still a full finger after a few minutes. Plenty of lacing left down the glass.

No real pumpkin scent There is some faint touches of nutmeg and cinnamon though.

Very faint pumpkin taste. Nutmeg and cinnamon are still apparent, though not strong. A bit of a malt taste in the back. Very mild overall. Some of the spice lingers in your mouth a while.

For something labeled as "a beer that you won't soon forget" I am actually somewhat disappointed with the flavor. More of a mild ale with some pumpkin and spice rather than a flavorful pumpkin ale.

Overall it is pretty smooth and not bad, but it isn't what I would expect from a pumpkin ale.

Seanstoppable, Nov 05, 2009
Photo of TheHammer
3.43/5  rDev -2.8%

Happy Halloween everybody, to get into the spirit of things I decided to try out my first pumpkin ale, and given this was the only one I could find at the LCBO, Great Lakes won this one by default.

Appearance: Unsurprisingly orange but surprisingly clear body that boast solid carbonation. The head sustained well enough, but the single finger of it and lack of lacing leaves something to be desired.

Smell: A lot milder and spicer then I expected it to be, as nutmeg, clove and cinnamon dominate the nose, but you can still catch the pumpkin and a very subdued malt and hop smell in the background. It could be a little bit stronger, but other then that, no complaints.

Taste: I dunno, I normally like a beer with balance but this one I think would have been better served had it been more on the sweeter side. Starts with a fairly watered down malt with some light spicing and then the spicing kicks into overdrive the exact same time the hops kick which isn't the greatest but it does end with a nice cinnamon and pumpkin taste which scores it some more points.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation seems a bit too excessive, and comes forward at the wrong place, which also hurts it's transistioning. However a pleasant pumpkin pie aftertaste that does overstay it's welcome makes up for that.

Drinkability: The harsh bite of bitterness and carbonation stops this beer from being as smooth as it could be. Speaking of carbonation, this one will leave you belching quite a bit. Refreshing and not excessively sweet, but as I said earlier, I feel I would have been better served had it been sweeter.

Final Thoughts: The best way I can describe this beer is seasonal for a reason, and it's not because you can't grow pumpkins year round. I'm sure many would disagree with me, and normally even I would but this pumpkin ale has a bit too much ale and not enough pumpkin. Still, it is a well balanced beer and I think it is worth a try. Maybe next year a different, perhaps sweeter offering will be available.

TheHammer, Nov 01, 2009
Photo of ecoastman
4.03/5  rDev +14.2%

I'm very surprised about this beer and could easily drink a few of these festive brews. I was intentionally ignoring this beer until the store clerk talked me into trying one. I'm glad she did because this is an easy winner for Christmas too. I'll try to grab a few more for the season.

The appearance is nice with an orange golden colour and very slight haze. The head has decent retention and some nice lacing through the drink.

Being my first pumpkin ale I didn't expect much but the aroma is quite nice and mild. The expected pumpkin pie spices (nutmeg/clove/cinnamon) are nicely balanced with a bready backing.

The taste is not overpowering and has a great lingering aftertaste of the spices. Some may complain that the beer is too mild but the level of intensity makes this a great festive session-drinking beer.

The mouthfeel is refreshing while still creamy smooth. No courseness and good carbonation. A tiny bit sticky in the finish but I guess that comes with the pumpkin territory...great stuff.

ecoastman, Oct 20, 2009
Photo of wordemupg
4/5  rDev +13.3%

650ml bottle poured into wheat beer glass oct14 2009

A clear golden orange with lots of big bubbles, a decent off white head with a few minuets worth of retention and lace while it lasted

S I like how I still get what I expect from a pumpkin ale things like nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon but it still has the malt and hops you don't get with a lot of pumpkin ales.

T again not overpowering with the spices and pumpkin, I liked this one not as sweet as most pumpkin ales. I like this one its pretty well rounded, lots of flavors but a good amount of each

M its got a little bite going on and it helps its cause, good carbonation helps it out as well

D this is a pretty easy drinking beer on a day like this watching the snow fall outside

tastes more like beer then a lot of pumpkin ales I liked it more then most
thanks to wittaker for this one

wordemupg, Oct 14, 2009
Photo of ritzkiss
3.55/5  rDev +0.6%

22oz from the LCBO. Pours a rather lightish (for a pumpkin ale) golden orange, almost IPA like with just a slight orange hue. Light head with little retention, though plenty of carb here.

Nose is nicely spiced, nutmeg being the primary one coming through. Also hints of cinnamon, all spice, behind that some fresh pumpkin.

Taste is pretty light, not as much going on here as I was hoping for this chilly, rainy evening. Nice malt base, light pumpkin additions and light spicing in the finish, hard to distinguish individual spices there (but certainly some cinnamon and nutmeg). Pretty heavy carb and I would prefer it toned down a notch to make it seem a little smoother.

A little smoother, a little richer, little more defined - those would be on my wish list for this beer. Not a bad beer by any means, drinkable for sure. Just not super.

ritzkiss, Sep 29, 2009
Photo of MeisterBurger
3.05/5  rDev -13.6%

It's nitpicking, I'll admit, but I think the orange foil on the cap has the opposite effect of that intended. It doesn't elevate it or add a modicum of elegance, it makes it seem like it's trying to be something it's not. This has a cheesy font and retarded looking baby-faced jack-o'-lantern on it for crying out loud. It'll take more than a bit of tin foil to make that look classy.

Pours a clear, orange-hued golden color with a decent amount of head, a decent amount of retention, and the same could be said about the lacing. Decent. It looks a lot like their Orange Peel Ale, from what I recall.

It smells like faint malt and hops and faint pumpkin pie spice. Very grassy. It has that new carved pumpkin smell.

The taste is about the same, with a very generic, slightly grainy ale with a grassy hop up against a melange of pumpkin pie spices--nutmeg and clove chief amongst them. It's...tangy. The finish has a slightly unpleasant vegetable aspect to it, likely from the pumpkin?

My chief complaint with this beer is the lack of malt sweetness which I think would offset all of the spice and grassiness better. With a sweeter malt, a pinch more spice, and a higher ABV this could be a decadent cold weather warmer. As it is I find myself wanting. Really. Go big or go home. As it is it's an okayish slightly pumpkiny ale almost more suitable for warm weather.

The mouthfeel is kind of thin and lacking.

Conclusion: Needs more malt.

MeisterBurger, Sep 25, 2009
Photo of demcorhip
4/5  rDev +13.3%

An interesting looking brew. Strange orangish hued relatively clear ale. Decent and persistent level of carbonation gave a big three finger off white head which is displaying very good retention. Some slippery lacing also evident, although the sheets gradually disperse to intricate webs which succumb to gravity and reenter the brew in my mug.

Some caramel from the malts, a touch of noble hops, but the main player is pumpkin pie spice, although not in a dominating way. Nutmeg and cinnamon with a hint of ginger present.

A good flavour in this one. Pumpkin and spice take the front. And yes, i said pumpkin! I like a pumpkin ale with a predominant pumpkin flavour and this one has it. There are some caramel and bready notes from the pale malts as well. A touch of grassy hops is also present, but there is a solid and almost substantial level of bitterness from the spices. According to the website there is allspice and clove as well as the aforementioned spices, minus the ginger (although the touch of cove probably contributes that which i had misattributed to ginger).

Almost light in body, with a pronounced creamy feel which adds some substance. A nice pumpkin ale, the pumpkin, malts and hops try to assert themselves but dont quite manage to stand up to the bitter and earthy spices.

This is pretty drinkable, it will be easy and pleasant enough to knock this bomber back all by myself. At 5.5% abv its also bordering on a true session ale. I will do what i can to get the LCBO to bring this brew further west next fall. One of the best pumpkin ales i have had the pleasure of trying, thanks to its pumpkin presence, which is more substantial than the norm. Big thanks go out to Derek for sending this my way.

demcorhip, Dec 13, 2008
Photo of TerryW
4/5  rDev +13.3%

Clear orange hued beer with a big head that settles to a film and leaves moderate lace - looks good. Pleasant aroma of spice and pumpkin, not overwhelmingly pumpkin pie in character.

Bitterness of an ale up front followed by pumpkin and spice which don't overwhelm the beer. Fairly light going mouthfeel makes for easy drinking. Nicely balanced brew that lets you enjoy both the beer and the pumpkin/spice.

Another decent seasonal from Great Lakes.

TerryW, Nov 03, 2008
Photo of biegaman
3.23/5  rDev -8.5%

A neon carrot pigmentation that - especially given the shape of this glass - aptly draws resemblance to a pumpkin. Its tinge is too deep to permit transparency but its complexion is both very clean and clear. A circle of fluffy white traces well defined boundaries around the perimeters but leaves the center bare and outstretched.

For once I actually smell a lot of pumpkin coming out of the aroma of a pumpkin ale. I realize the vegetable (err, fruit) itself doesn't impart much flavour, but there's enough of it in this bouquet that conjures memories of cutting the top from the pumpkin and then pulling out the seeds. It also kind of has that same scent that follows in the days after Halloween, when it comes time to take the pumpkin out for compost.

Alas, there is plenty of spice too (relatively speaking). Alongside the actual pumpkin, Great Lakes reveal the recipe to also include: allspice, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. None of these ingredients are a dead stand-out to my nose. Despite being spicy, I still would have honestly had a tough time confidently identifying any of them outright.

It'd be dishonest of me to say the flavour couldn't use a few more pinches of spice as well. I'm not the biggest fan of overly perfumy beers, but beyond the spice this ale offers little to nothing. The actual issue, however, is with the terrible lack of a good malt base. More malt would greatly improve this beer, all in terms of taste, texture, and body.

I have real problems with the mouthfeel as well. For one, the beer hasn't any body. It is completely flat and this utter lack of carbonation (and lack of bitterness) leaves spices out of check to linger astringently. It is both soapy and metallic. The flavours are stale and off-putting. The aftertaste is drying and leaves a cottony feel in the mouth.

I commend Great Lakes for being a brewery that tries to be experimental and offer new and creative things, especially in this local market. When I first tried their Pumpkin Ale, on cask at the Volo Cask Days 2007, I thought it to be wonderful. Tonight's sample, however, was far from it. Whatever my opinion, there's undoubtedly room to improve for next year's batch.

biegaman, Oct 30, 2008
Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.35/5  rDev -5.1%

I had this last year out of the cask at Volo's Cask Days, this was from a large bottle. Poured quite cloudy with a copper colour but later showed lots of orange and cleared somewhat. Beige head, a half finger, fluffy - although I should add I drank it our of a tall glass that was less than ideal. Slow and steady carbonation, medium size bubbles, lacing not bad at all.

Definately a spicy nose dominated by nutmeg and cinammon. I wrote this review before checking last years and on both occasions wrote that it tasted like pumpkin pie. I also got flashes of mince-meat tart in the mouth, malt, bitterness. I thought the aftertaste was unpleasant initially, almost metallic, and I was prepared to be quite critical ... but a funny thing happened: I took a phone call for about 10 minutes and afterwards found that the beer - with air - improved tremendously and the finish was now more balanced and harmonious, the last third of the glass was a lot more well rounded and enjoyable.

This is not my favourite beer style but, by the end of the tasting, I felt that this sample was fairly representative of what it's all about with pumpkin ales and good enough to make me want to try another.

ThatWineGuy, Oct 30, 2008
Photo of GodOfBeer
3.45/5  rDev -2.3%

Poured a nice amber colour with a thin head that dissipates.

Smells like pumpkin pie...very spicey, with some subtle hop notes.

Loads of cinnamon is what I mainly get, way too much, some nutmeg and the pumpkin is barely noticeable, needs more sweetness or malt.

A thin mouthfeel, overall this beer is lacking something, but I don't know what, more pumpkin and malt maybe?

GodOfBeer, Oct 17, 2008
Photo of EatsTacos
4.1/5  rDev +16.1%

The beer pours a very deep orange to amber colour. Pumpkin orange I'm sure is what they shot for and its pretty good.

Aroma is totally pumpkin pie, I get nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin, some hops poke through.

Taste is nicely complex and very spicy. The pumpkin is in the background, but I think that works well here. Although the taste is dominated by the spices, there is a good balance between hops and malt, and the finish is very clean and dry

Good level of carbonation and a medium to light body make this beer fairly drinkable. I could have a few of these no problem

EatsTacos, Oct 07, 2008
Photo of Ralphus
3.7/5  rDev +4.8%

Pumpkin Ale is the next seasonal beer from Great Lakes Brewery immediately following their "Orange Peel" offering. I was initially skeptical and thought that the pumpkin might be the orange with some nutmeg and cinnamon thrown in. However, I was wrong. The alcohol content is higher, and the beer - although retaining some of the orange's fruitiness - is noticeably different.

Pumpkin Ale pours quite well with an attractive amber colour, pinpoint carbonation and a head that recedes quickly into a small off-white blanket. The smell is this beer's forte though. Even non beer drinkers will appreciate the aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and fruit that can be found within. It just smells good and you will be enjoying it often thanks to the hefty 650ml bottle it's shipped in. When it comes to taste Great Lakes has done a solid job. The flavours in the nose come through but there's also some malty flavours, hops and of course - what you came for - pumpkin.

Drink-ability I rate slightly lower however - as good as it is - its not an all night drinking beer. It does make a great fall beer however and one that you'd be amiss not to try.

Ralphus, Oct 03, 2008
Photo of bobsy
3.83/5  rDev +8.5%

I've had this beer at three different time points now, and the character has been slightly different at each tasting. From the tap at the fall festival of beers, it tasted fresh and full of pumpkin. From the bottle, just after release, the spices dominated and the pumpkin lurked in the background. I'll base my comments on a bottle that has been sitting for several months.

A frothy off-white head crowns a radiant orange body. I believe this is what pumpkin beer would look like in a perfect world. The aroma, as expected, was pumpkin pie. The spicing seems more subdued than the previous bottle, so this could be a good sign. That's more like it! The flavours have become very well integrated, and it tastes like sipping on a pumpkin pie. A nicely carbonated pumpkin pie. I'll definitely pick up some more next fall.

Edited to add: tastes excellent on cask.

bobsy, Jan 12, 2008
Photo of irishkyle21
3.85/5  rDev +9.1%

I have not had many pumpkin beers but I really enjoyed this one. I love the fact that the spices come through over everything else. It ends up being a bit unbalanced but I really didn't mind. I would not be able to drink a whole lot of them though. It pours with a fluffy off white head, great retention and lacing. Has a clear orange copper color.

I found the nose to be at its best right after the pour ( strange but thats what I thought). Notes of pumpkin pie spices ( cinnamon, nutmeg etc), a bit of pumpkin and caramel malt.

Tastes similar to the nose, the spices are king in this beer. Also has hints of caramel malt and hop bitterness. Great fall drink that I hope Great Lakes keeps on brewing.

irishkyle21, Dec 03, 2007
Photo of crwills
3.3/5  rDev -6.5%

OK, I confess. I just don't like pumpkin ales. I try them for the sake of trying them, but there's something about the spices in them that I can't tolerate for some reason. With that in mind...

This one was decent. Looks nice (deep, orangey gold with a big bubbly white head). Smells nice -- I have no problem with the smell of these ales, I just don't like the taste -- lots of the usual spices, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, although very little pumpkin. Some pumpkin-like notes in the flavour, although, again, the artificial spices dominate. Solid mouthfeel, although I felt the carbonation emphasized the spices a little too much.

I've got one more bottle to drink, which I may share out at Christmas or trade.

crwills, Dec 02, 2007
Great Lakes Pumpkin Ale from Great Lakes Brewery
81 out of 100 based on 97 ratings.