September 23, 2019
It’s one of the flavours of fall: fresh-off-the-vine, sun-ripened pumpkin, baked into pies, stirred into soups, added to lattes and yes, even brewed into beer. While some of you out there may think pumpkin beer is a Starbucks rip-off, the truth is, pumpkin beer has been around even longer than the Seattle coffee chain.
“We were one of the pioneers in Canada, in terms of brewing pumpkin beer,” explains David Brophy, Brewmaster at McAuslan Brewing. “We did it for the first time in 1999, but the first pumpkin ales were made in the U.S in the 1980’s. This is actually a lost beer, so to speak. It had originally been made in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s but it was forgotten about for a long time, until a gentleman named Bill Owens started to experiment with it.”
Owens, who founded one of California (and America's) earliest brewpubs, Buffalo Bill’s, is credited with resurrecting this ancient recipe, and it was after a meeting with him at a craft brewing event that the McAuslan team decided to try a version of this for themselves for the Canadian market.
Brophy wants to point out that while the flavour of a pumpkin spice latte is anything but subtle, the way McAuslan is brewing its St-Ambroise Pumpkin Ale, is far more delicate. Though you’ll notice hints of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in the beer, it’s not overwhelming.
“We’ve never been one to hit people over the head with strong, unbalanced flavours. We want you to enjoy a light pumpkin taste with some hints of spice, but not to say, ‘wow, this is too strong’. We aim for a nice balance.”
So great is the demand, particularly from Alberta and B.C., that brewing of St-Ambroise Pumpkin Ale begins in late July. (St-Ambroise is the street McAuslan brewery sits on in Montreal) The brewery sources pure pumpkin and organic spices, which are added before fermentation. The spice blend sits in the beer for about an hour, but that’s enough to impart just the right level of flavour and aromatics.
Brophy has spent about three decades in the brewing business. He says he’s seen a lot change when it comes to consumer preferences, and people are becoming more adventurous when it comes to their beer. At the same time, customers have access to amazing beers from all over the world, so their standards are very high.
“From us they get a quality product, and consistently made,” says Brophy. “I want people to get something they’ll enjoy and find interesting. I think for millennials and younger people they're always looking for those new flavours and new tastes and that’s why I think our Pumpkin Ale is really popular right now.”
Find St-Ambroise Pumpkin Ale at Calgary-are Co-op Wine Spirits Beer stores throughout the fall season.
St-Ambroise Pumpkin Ale tasting notes:
Expect a magical potion that casts a potent spell with its well-crafted blend of blonde and caramelized malts, gentle hop, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and pumpkin. Its delicate malty character and hint of sweetness will quench any creature looking for easy-drinking refreshment.
Light beer has a bad reputation. For many years it was known as a watery, largely tasteless pseudo-beverage, for those worried about their weight.
We’ve probably all heard of fondue, but how many of us have actually tried to make it, or even wondered where it came from? The...
Let’s admit it—for many of us, one of the exciting things about the holidays is the opportunity to share fun and festive drinks with friends.
As you’re working away at your holiday shopping list, there’s always a few folks who are hard to buy for.
There is something so festive and satisfying about enjoying cheese and wine at parties.
If you’re tasked with making a dish for a holiday potluck, you might be wondering if you should bring the same old tired spinach dip.
Are you the planner in your family or at the office? If you’re just not up for being the host or the organizer again this...
The holidays are just around the corner and in today’s globetrotting society, so many of us live far away from our families and friends.
If you’re the type of person who throws awesome holiday parties you’ll want to make sure your supplies are in order.
Looking for a little something different? Want a beverage that feels a little festive this holiday season? Fallentimber Meadery has some extra special offerings that...
Harvest is that time of year when we reap the rewards of what we’ve sown over the past season.
Many of us enjoy a cold beer now and again. But if pressed, do you think you could name a handful of beers in a...
Canmore's Grizzly Paw Brewing Company is one of the original breweries that sprung up in the heart of Alberta.
Everyone assumes the bright lights and allure of Hollywood would be a major draw and an enticing career.
It’s not unusual for home brewing to become a gateway into owning and operating a brewery.
What's a dandy, exactly? If you looked it up in the dictionary, you'd see this:
A caravel is a sailing ship common in the 15th to 17th centuries in Europe.
You know you’re in for something different when the conversation turns from beer to something called a ‘reverse mullet’.
If you were in Calgary in 1988, you’ll no doubt remember the spirit of the Olympics and how it brought the city together.
It’s the image many Canadians have when it comes to imagining the Rockies; tall, snow-capped peaks, lush, steep-sided valleys, and icy streams trickling the freshest...
When your day to day job involves working in one of the world’s most dangerous countries, dodging bullets and insurgents while riding around in armoured...
A beer label is a lot like a book cover; you can’t prejudge what’s inside, but a great front can definitely entice you to pick...
There's probably many a beer lover that has dreamed of having their own brewery.
Some folks make Sunday dinner. For Adam Nachbaur, his weekend tradition has been making Sunday beer.
It’s kind of hard to imagine today, with a computer in every pocket, but back when Canada was still a baby, the railroad was Canada’s lifeline.
When Uncommon Cider set out to make an Alberta-centric cider they knew they wanted to be unique, and keep their focus on western Canadian ingredients.
The TV is tuned, the snacks are set out and those Superbowl commercials are just about to hit their stride.
Calgary’s economy has created some unique challenges over the last few years.
There are dedicated craft beer types who speak in hops, and judge their beer in IBUs.
On the side of a brewery, you fully expect to see the word ‘brewers’, but entering Calgary’s Legend 7 Brewing, you can tell it’s going...
Sometimes there's too much choice. If you're popping into Co-op Wine Spirits Beer on your way home, maybe it happens that you want to try...
They may be best known for their 11 brewpub restaurants across Alberta, but Brewsters is also a longstanding brewery, turning out numerous local craft beers.
It’s cup season and what goes better with football, than beer? If you’re gathering friends for the game, why not take advantage of the power...
It may seem odd for a family to take on a business where the workers could kill you.
Since we skipped fall and went straight to winter, nesting has become a priority for many of us.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get together with family and friends, and while there’s always lots of catching up to do, once that’s over,...
It's no secret Calgary's craft brewing scene is growing. New breweries and distilleries are opening all the time, and in the quest for better beer,...
When you come across a beer called Hijacked IPA, you might assume it gets its name from market research, or the future ability to craft...
The Calgary Stampede is many things; officially it's a chance to take in the rodeo and celebrate community spirit through shows, rides, events, and pancake breakfasts.
You don't have to remember Bob and Doug Mackenzie to know that beer is Canada's drink.
Mark MacDonald was working as a mechanical engineer in Alberta's oil patch when he and his brother rather randomly decided to get each other home...
In a nondescript industrial area in southwest Calgary is a brewery you could call experimental.
Hot summer days beg for the cooling refreshment of an ice cold beer.
There are beers, and then there are summer beers. You know them; a bit lighter, crisper, cooler and more refreshing than average.
Now that the mercury seems like it’s finally climbed over the freezing mark for the season (famous last words) it’s time to start thinking about...
Baseball season is officially underway, having just transitioned from spring training to the regular season.
For many Canadians, St Patrick’s Day is an excuse to wear green, while kids cut shamrocks from paper and fashion cardboard leprechaun hats.
Co-op Wine Spirits Beer is more than just a store. It’s an experience. Shop here and you’ll get education, assistance, and great customer service.
It's the sporting event that outdoes all other sporting events — with the possible exception of the World Cup of soccer, some might say.
It's resolution time! And if yours is to make smarter choices and maybe cut back on some vices, we've got some ideas when it comes...
The food is picked out, your place is all set up, you even have a sweet playlist ready.
‘Tis the season of seasonal beer! Traditionally, winter brings with it darker, more bitter, and a bit sweeter beers, similar to the rich foods we...
What does a gift card, a rare bottle of scotch, and a taster pack of beer all have in common? They all make great gifts,...
Handling all the drinks for your holiday party can be daunting.
It’s a local brewery that has brought international attention to Alberta’s craft beer market.
Blindman Brewing was born out of a shared vision to brew the best beer in Alberta, while at the same time, introducing local beer drinkers...
Serendipity. That’s how Village Brewery’s co-founder, Jim Button describes how the local craft brewery came to be.
Hard apple ciders aren’t just for the British anymore, they’re steadily gaining popularity right here in Canada.
Oktoberfest or the “Volksfest” is a beer festival that dates back to 1810 and starts around mid-September through the first weekend in October and draws...
It’s been about a year since Half Hitch Brewing Company sold its very first batch of beer.
We all know that certain types of wine complement certain types of food – but what about beer?
This week, Canadians will celebrate the 150th anniversary of our dominion formation, when the country established its confederation in 1867.
It's known as Canada's left coast and if you've spent any time out there you'll know B.C. has a whole different vibe.
Canadians will be celebrating our great nation’s sesquicentennial as we mark 150 years of Confederation.
We’ve got the rolling prairies, the towering Rockies and a reputation for being the friendliest province in the country.
150 years ago Canada had about 150 breweries, which meant Canada’s 3.5 million people had lots of options to celebrate the birth of our nation.
When we think of the Prairies, we think rolling hills, miles upon miles of wheat, soybeans or corn blowing in the wind and a horizon...
It’s a story of determination, camaraderie, and a serious love of brewing beer.
For some, it's the de facto centre of the universe for Canada, but others cast a more wary eye on Ontario, which can often be...
It's fair to say that the craft beer industry in North America has exploded over the past decade.
Canadians have a great reputation both at home and abroad, as a peaceful nation, with a polite population (“sorry” for everything), hockey crazy, and beer loving.
Quebec plays a starring role in Canada’s history (some of Canada’s earliest settlements were Quebec City in 1608, and Montreal in 1642).
Some of the most famous 'Canadian' foods have their origins in La Belle Province.
In 1867, Canada became a country with four provinces; New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec.
When the world’s largest ice cubes float past your door each day, you might have a different outlook on life, and cocktails.
There is a long-standing tradition on Canada's East Coast. When there's a celebration to be had, Maritimers throw a kitchen party or ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee).
On July 1st Canada marks the 150th Anniversary of Confederation, where the British Colonies, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia joined in one Dominion.
There’s no denying that craft beer has exploded in popularity over the past five years.
Did you know that brewing beer was at one time a woman’s job, not a mans? In fact, in ancient Egypt beer was traditionally brewed...
It's time to break out the bubbly at Co-op. Mike Roberts, Co-op's Sommelier Manager was the overall winner at the city's annual Iron Sommelier Competition,...
Gluten free has typically meant that beer was no longer an option.
Confused about all the different types of beer? This is an easy guide to a couple of the common types.
Learn a little bit more about how to cook and pair different foods with beer.