McAuslan St-Ambroise Citrouille “The Great Pumpkin Ale” is 5.0% ABV.
I poured all of a 11.5 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.
Appearance: A moderate pour gave a finger of thin light tan foam. This was gone in a minute and left no lacing. The color of this beer is a clear dark but bright red/amber. The color is very appealing. This looks to have moderate carbonation.
Smell: Up front I get some vegetal pumpkin with roasty elements, strong and interesting toasty malt, and light spicing. For spicing I am getting some nutmeg, and maybe some cinnamon too. This has some dark sugar and a good amount of vanilla. The toasty malt, smooth sweetness, and spice make for a great aroma.
Taste: This has good and surprisingly strong flavors. I get some clean pumpkin with some vegetal and roasty elements. I also get some spice, which is restrained and well-balanced, some nutmeg and maybe some light clove. There is some of the darker fruit flavor in this that a lot of the imperial pumpkin ales have. This brings in some almost juicy sweetness, which is balanced with some brown sugar. I get just great roasty and toasty malt to this, which adds a nice richness and warmth to the flavors. It is also reminiscent of dark golden brown pie crust. On the slightly dry finish there is some mildly astringent vegetal pumpkin and a little bitter spicing. Some mildly bitter spicing hangs out in the aftertaste with some sour notes. Good flavors in this one, and great balance.
Feel: This is light bodied, with moderate carbonation. The feel has some richness and complexity due to the roastiness and the spices. But nothing overwhelms or drags. It has a lot of flavor, but is still fairly light on the palate. Great here.
Drinkability: This does really quite well here. It is lighter, and drinks very smoothly.
Overall: This is the fourth Canadian beer to join the ranks this year. I’ve known about this offering for a bit, but haven’t had the opportunity to taste it until now. Thanks so much to Julian from Craftshack.com for sending this bottle for review. You can check their site or follow them @Craftshackbeer on Twitter to buy some or to see their seriously well-crafted selection of beers, replete with a good number of rare beers. I was glad to receive this St-Ambroise offering, as it is very good. It has great balance, and interesting and enjoyable flavors. The vegetal pumpkin, toasty pie crust, sweet brown sugar, dark fruit sweetness, and evenly dosed spicing are all done well. It has a brightness, but also some darker and toasty flavors. It has a lot of flavor for something this light in body and ABV. I would certainly recommend this offering. I’d say it is in the pumpkin pie style, though brings some vegetal pumpkin and astringent notes that add complexity and keep this from being one of those sweet but uninteresting pumpkin ales. This is worth the try, and worth the money it typically goes for (about $10-11 per 4-pack).
Overall Rating: ***1/2
About McAuslan and their St-Ambroise pumpkin: McAuslan Brewing opened in Quebec in 1989. It was founded by Peter McAuslan, president, and his wife Ellen Bounsel, the master brewer and vice president. There aren’t very many female master brewers. One that comes to mind is Kim Jordan from U.S. based New Belgium. McAuslan might be comparable to New Belgium, actually, since McAuslan has grown quite a bit since their opening, now amounting to a multi-million dollar business employing 40 people and producing 3 brands of beer: McAuslan, St-Ambroise, and Griffin. New Belgium is the third largest craft brewery in the U.S (last I remember). So two great breweries led by female master brewers. Why aren’t there more ladies?
McAuslan’s pumpkin ale is sold under the St-Ambroise brand. They use pumpkin and spices of cinnamon, clove, ginger, and nutmeg. It is one of their most popular seasonals, being delicately flavored with Blond and Caramel malts. Their light hopping is done with Cascade and Willamette hops, and takes this to 18 IBU’s. A great refreshing and delicately flavored beer out of Montreal.