Today we delve our first foray into the international pumpkin ale scene. Starting in 1989, Mcauslan Brewing has become one of Quebec’s foremost micro-breweries, and if your only initiation into Canadian beer sports a moose on the can, you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. Obviously we’re digging into their “Citrouille” offering, given the nature of this blog. Avid followers may note the correct spelling here vs. our tongue in cheek collaboration from a few west coast brewers.

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Name:  St. Ambroise Citrouille / The Great Pumpkin Ale / La Grande Biere A La Citrouille

Place of Origin / Brewer: Quebec, Canada / Brasserie Mcauslan Brewing Inc.

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Brewed just once a year, the Great St-Ambroise Pumpkin Ale returns this fall to bewitch beer lovers with a savory blend of pale and caramel malts, hops, pumpkin, and spices including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves . If you enjoy the out-of-the-ordinary, this seasonal offering will be sure to please you.

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Packaging:

This gorgeous bottle is decked out in chromized rust orange labeling, and features decidedly French looking folk art pumpkins, on a blue fielded circular crest. It pretty much screams pumpkin and class, and given some of it’s rival ales, that’s certainly something that should make it stand out – Mike

I’ve only had one other beer from St. Ambroise before, an absolutely fantastic 2009 Vintage Ale.  I remember being impressed by that package since it was boxed like a fine bottle of wine.  This label might not be that fancy, but it does impart a very classic and refined look.  Bursting with bright orange and centering on a pair of perfectly ripe gourds it looks like a label for a very high end beer.  Plus, it’s called The Great Pumpkin Ale–so extra points for that! – Tim

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Color:  8

Golden-copper coloring with active bubbles and an ivory head that clears quickly and leaves just a bit of lacing around the edges.  The copper color is almost as metal as the foil label. – Brittney

Crystal clear and shiny as a copper penny; it’s so pretty I almost don’t want to drink it–but you know I will. There is a small half-finger head that maintains some mild retention from the constant stream of bubbles keeping it aloft.   The color of the ale actually mirrors the label which is a nice touch.  – Tim

M- 9 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 7

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Aroma:  8

A very tasty smelling beer this is. Nutmeg is dominant giving it a nice sweet character, while a touch of cinnamon and clove rounding it out. But there’s also some brown sugar like qualities and notes of caramel that really make this brew smell deliciously sweet. I’m almost nervous to try it, but can’t wait at the same time. – Rick

Wheat and dry nutmeg dominate the nose here, to the point it has a clean pumpkin soap quality. A deeper pull when I jam my nose in grabs some ginger and clove as well. – Mike

M- 6.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 8 / R- 8

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Mouth feel:  6.5

Smooth and luxurious like silk sheets and milk had a baby together. With the consistent pull of bubbles up from the bottom of the glass, it’s amazing how they wait until the swallow to show, leaving a moderate body and a gorgeous bleach white halo of a head to the bottom of the glass. – Mike

It’s pretty watery and not what I expected. When the beer hits your lips you receive a nice flavorful tingle that slowly effervesces then kind of falls flat at the end. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 6.5 / B- 7 / R- 4

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Tasting notes:  7.5

There is a really distinct butter crust feel here that elevates the ale to something very close to pumpkin pie in a glass without sacrificing the ale to a novelty drink.  You get the substance of the beer, combined with the spices–which to their credit are less pronounced in the body than they were in the bouquet–and then round that out with a buttery lusciousness and yeasty goodness, that makes this beer feel like it only needs a dollop of whipped cream to complete the experience. – Tim

From the aroma I was preparing for an onslaught of syrupy goodness, but what I got was a little watered down. At first, I was disappointed with the watery light body of this beer, but it really excels by presenting all of it’s spicing without becoming a syrupy mess and for the most part stays fairly dry. This is cool because I’m able to enjoy the great spicing without being too cloying. – Rick

This beer definitely brings a pumpkin pie in a bottle note to the table but it doesn’t over do it. I think this would be a great beer for people who enjoy more traditional ales and would shy away from “pumpkin pie in a bottle” beer.  Very well balanced as far as presenting a great beer with great additions in the flavor profile. – Brittney

The word that keeps popping into my head here is “refined”. There’s a touch of malt up front smoothed out by the wheat presence, and a delicate hand of spice and pumpkin that balances flawlessly with the beer profile. This isn’t one of those smack you in the face, holy f%^&! I’m a pumpkin pie beer approaches, but rather a tasteful and poised glimpse at how flavored beer can still hold it’s ground in the ale it originates as. – Mike

M- 8.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 6

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Finish:  7

There’s a hop bitterness here that is almost understated, and is helped along nicely by the crisp bit of the carbonation finally showing its head. – Mike

The body finishes slick with hint of syrup remaining.  The brew although sweet throughout, could have a touch of a bitter finish reminding us that there is more than just pumpkin spice flavoring involved. – Brittney

M- 8.5 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 5

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Flavor balance:  8.00

-         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6.5

I think the shining star of this pumpkin ale is the wonderful spicing. Not too much can be said about the pumpkin.  It’s there; it just doesn’t have much say in this brew. – Rick

I would like to see the pumpkin take a little bit more of a lead here (it’s in there all right) but it’s fairly subservient to the spice mixture.  Still, overall the tastes are well presented and while it’s a legitimate concern, I don’t think it entirely distracts from the beer. – Tim

M- 9 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 4

-         Sweet / Dry balance: 8.5

If moderation is the key, we have a winner. The sweetness here is all in the pumpkin and malt profile, avoiding candied labels, and staying firmly in congruous territory. It finishes slightly dry with a focus on the nutmeg, and a snap of ginger and, well, what I’m trying to say is, it’s pretty flawless. – Mike

Overall, slightly more sweet with a crispness and bitterness towards the end that keeps everything overall balanced. – Brittney

This is probably my favorite brew for this category. It’s balanced so well that I’m able to enjoy and almost pick out each individual spice without needing to clear my throat of an overwhelmingly cloying body after each sip. I’m very impressed here. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 9 / B- 7 / R- 9

-         Multiple Drinkability?  8.5

If I could find this, I would buy it by the truck load and at 5% ABV I could even down a sixer without having to worry about waking up alone, in random pumpkin patches, on Monday mornings, wondering where my weekend went. – Tim

This beer is delicate but it does have a lot of little nuances to appreciate. I would have at least two to take it all in. – Brittney

I think there’s a great flavor with this beer even if it may be too heavily spiced. There is a good chance I’d finish my fair share of these bad boys in no time. – Rick

I love everything about this beer. Its look, its manner, and the kick back to the French Canadian side of my heritage. It reminds me of my Grandmother, and the meticulous way she could bake by only measuring with her hands, complete with the metric conversions scrawled in the border of the recipe. Would I drink more? Until I exploded. – Mike

M- 9.5 / T- 9 / B- 7 / R- 8

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Overall:  7.50

M- 8.42 / T- 8.00 / B- 7.33 / R- 6.08

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