Today’s selection is another international pumpkin ale from our neighbors up north. In 1980 John Mitchell and Frank Appleton pioneered North America’s first modern craft brewery at Horseshoe Bay on British Columbia’s spectacular Howe Sound, beginning the craft brewing renaissance.

Fast forward to 1996, and John Mitchell helped design the Howe Sound Brewery, even developing some of their original recipes. He has since gone on to be referred to as “The Grandfather of Canadian Micro-brewing”. This beer is part of the John Mitchell Series, in tribute to his achievements in helping resurrect craft beer in alpine Squamish, BC. If you’re a beer tourist, you’re going to want to drop by Howe Sound. Not only is it a brewery, but a lodge situated in one of the prettiest parts of Canada’s adventure capital.

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Name:  Pumpkin Eater Imperial Pumpkin Ale (John Mitchell Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: British Columbia, Canada / Howe Sound Brewing

Beer style / ABV%: Imperial Pumpkin Ale / 8%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  A high gravity pumpkin ale brewed with barley, fresh roasted pumpkin, hops, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise. It is produced in very limited quantities as part of the John Mitchell Series.

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Packaging:

This bottle is awesome. At a whopping liter of volume, it’s definitely not messing around, and the cool Canadian fall could certainly justify this much warming ale. Of course, there’s a reseal cap for those of you not up to the task. The folk art jack o’lantern is styled impressively in wood cut print block style, and seriously pops on the dreary gray scale, replete with the man’s signature himself, John Mitchell. – Mike

This is definitely the largest pumpkin beer we’ve had so far. A Sleepy Hallowesque 1 liter bottle provides a ton of information about the story of the brewery and enough information to have a pretty good idea of what you are about to taste. – Brittney

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Color:  6.5

Pumpkineater is one of those brews that has just a great copper color that emphasizes it’s style and prepares the palette for a delicious treat. The body appears nice and clean with a decent transparency, and pours a thin to non existent white head that is more like a ring around the glass than head. – Rick

Antique copper and crystal clear in appearance, Pumpkineater sports a fizzy cream soda head from a fairly aggressive pour that vanishes almost immediate and leaves very little lacing. – Tim

M- 7.5 / T- 5.5 / B- 7 / R- 6

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Aroma:  7

This brew provides a very light aroma of sugary sweetness and a delicate touch of spice.  The smell of the spices is hard to differentiate; it’s more of what you would get from a fresh batch of “pumpkin pie spice” with an anise kick than any one or two of the spices standing out. – Brittney

There are some nice sweet elements in this aroma that are very appealing. I like the ripe pumpkin elements that are at play here. The bouquet is definitely full bodied, balancing pumpkin and sweet spices really well. There does tend to be a slight sting from the spicing, but that could be attributed to the alcohol content which has a strong presence throughout this beer. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 7.5 / B- 7 / R- 6

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Mouth feel:  6

Light to mid-bodied, pretty straightforward as an ale goes, with bouncy carbonation. Serviceable by all means, but a hint too light to love it. – Tim

Nicely textured interplay and a slight sting that helps give lien to the spice and hop profile. Fairly light end of medium bodied with a crisp bite. – Mike

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

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Tasting notes:  7.5

I’m getting a huge pumpkin bread vibe complete with caramel glaze. There’s a great balance of spices here, one of the best approaches I’ve had to a fairly spicy beer that really congeals to a “pumpkin spice” approach, rather than a particular dominance. Extremely subtle hopping, and nice aged rum notes to boot. – Mike

Big alcohol flavor bomb, actually reminds me a lot of a Belgian ale at this point, and the Banana that was in the nose is on full display here (I’d almost liken it to Wells Banana Bread Beer). Subtle notes of Melon along with nutmeg, clove and molasses-y malty sweetness round it out.  The pumpkin is here, and it’s added a nice roasted vibe to it, but it takes a back seat to the spices, which is a shame. – Tim

Nothing really stands out to me. I can’t tell if it’s because my palette is being over blown by all of the spices or if it’s just so well blended that I can’t pick anything out. The higher amount of alcohol is present in the taste and combined with what are considered to be “warming” spices this would probably bode well for a cold winter night. – Brittney

What we have here is a nice caramelized, brown sugar infused pumpkin flavor with an interesting spicy cinnamon and clove profile. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 6.5 / B- 7 / R- 7.5

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Finish:  6.5

The anise is primarily regulated to here, and compliments the slightly banana- malty body to give a very tight, clean wash, leaving little spice on the palate. There’s also a touch of burn in the back of the throat on swallow, reminding you this is an imperial ale. – Mike

A little too hot on the finish for my taste buds. The alcohol burn is slightly noticeable, but it does seem to mask some of the flavor by the end of the pint. A bit over powering, but it does not ruin the experience. The syrupy finish irks me as well. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 6.5 / B- 7 / R- 5.5

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Flavor balance:  6

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 6.5

The spice really ties itself to the higher alcohol content and dominates this one. – Brittney

The nose has such great pumpkin and spice profiles that it’s a shame the brew more-or-less sidelines the pumpkin in the body.  Still considering how unbalanced most seasonal ales are, I’d put this in the category of a success. – Tim

M- 7 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 6

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 6.5

Bold and malty with a richness that finishes dry—it’s hard to argue the balancing act here is deftly handled.  It’s not perfect but Imperial Ales can often be too impetuous in the sweets department leaving a chewy mess.  This one avoids that fate. – Tim

Pleasantly sweet up front with a dry biting finish coming primarily from the alcohol presence. – Mike

M- 7 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 6.5

–         Multiple Drinkability?  5.5

It has a really good flavor, but it’s too hot on the tongue for me. I’m also not the biggest fan of the syrupy finish either. – Rick

This is a big ass bottle, and I’d drink every drop (if you’re driving). – Mike

M- 7 / T- 5 / B- 5 / R- 4.5

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Overall:  6.58

M- 7.25 / T- 6.42 / B- 6.67 / R- 6.17

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