Capital Pint

CAPITAL PINT: Top fall beers from Ottawa’s brewmasters — plus a few regional picks

Capital Pint by Travis Persaud is published regularly at OttawaMagazine.com. Follow Travis on twitter @tpersaud. 

As the leaves turn to deep shades of orange, red, and chestnut, Ottawa’s brewmasters create autumn brews that match this beautiful occurrence.

Here we highlight a handful of local fall seasonals — pumpkins are still very popular! — as well as a few LCBO entrants worth checking out. And, as these are limited releases, make sure to check each website for bottle availability and tap locations.

Clocktower_Pumpkin2Beer: The Pumpkin
Brewery: Clocktower
Brewmaster: Patrick Fiori

If you’ve been around Ottawa for a few years then this beer shouldn’t be new to you. The venerable brewpub — which recently opened their retail business, selling growlers from their Glebe location — is once again releasing their popular pumpkin beer. It will be available starting Sept. 27, but you can preorder your growler(s) until Sept. 25. Fiori says that so far the presales for The Pumpkin have surpassed the number of total growlers they’ve sold so far. So hustle up and head to clocktowerpumpkin.com to secure yours. And, they’re adding a new twist this year. “The number of pumpkin beers coming out is crazy,” Fiori says, “so the only way to keep up is to make different pumpkin styles.” Fiori will be making a pumpkin stout as a special Halloween beer that will be available a few days before Oct. 31. “The pumpkin really works well with stout flavours,” he says. “And each location is only going to get one keg, so once it’s gone, it’s gone!”

Beer: Extra Special Bitter (ESB)
Brewery: Big Rig
Brewmaster: Lon Ladell

This beer falls into Ladell’s top three all-time styles. “John Mitchell, the pioneer of craft beer in Canada, brewed this as his first batch at Spinnakers Brewpub [in Victoria, B.C.], and it was the first commercial batch I ever brewed, so I’ve always felt connected with this style.” Ladell says the U.K. hops (East Kent Golding and Fuggle) balance well with the Ringwood yeast, creating fruity esters with floral, caramel, and bready notes. “This is as traditionally English as we can get it,” he says. “It’s perfect for the fall.” Ladell is also brewing a pumpkin porter at Big Rig this fall, complete with lactose to bring in the creaminess of whipped cream on top.

Beer: Squashed Pumpkin Porter
Brewery: Turtle Island
Brewmaster: JP Fournier

Ottawa’s latest brewery is Turtle Island, operating out of Broadhead’s facility. They also enter the world of gourds for their fall offering. Fournier first brewed this porter in 2011, but wasn’t happy with it until he reached the fourth, and final, generation of the recipe. “I’m trying to emulate the flavours of pumpkin pie,” he explains. “So I use pumpkins from a local farm and add spices to create that taste — everything up to the caramelized sugar on the crust.” He adds butternut squash to the mash to help round out the mouth feel. “I wanted to add a new dimension to the beer,” he says. “The butternut squash creates a richness, making this more of a robust porter.” He says it’s set for release on Oct. 6.

Beer: Party Animal (and Drink Me Now)
Brewery: Beyond the Pale
Brewmaster: Shane Clark

The inventive fellows at Beyond the Pale unveiled their Party Animal at this year’s National Capital Craft Beer Festival. It’s not really a seasonal — by the time you read this, their Harvest Ale called Drink Me Now may be gone, but call/Tweet/Facebook them to see if they have any left — as it joins their regular lineup. “It went over really well, so we decided it’s going to be part of our regular rotation,” says Clark about this Belgian Double IPA. “Hop On Your Face is gone for a little while, we couldn’t get enough hops for that one, so we felt Party Animal was a good one to add.” Beyond the Pale also just released their first sour beer, Tamed Angry Orchid, are about to release a Special Bitter, and have a Black Saison they made in collaboration with Nickel Brook’s head brewer Ryan Morrow almost ready for consumption.

At the LCBO

Harvest BottleMuskoka Brewery releases their fifth edition of their Harvest Ale. It has a super fresh, floral taste that makes it great for an early evening drink. The hop presence is noticeable from the moment it’s poured, but it’s not a huge hop bomb making it a fairly accessible brew. And, in case you’re interested, Muskoka uses a centrifuge to spin out the solids while retaining the beer’s unfiltered qualities. The brewery encourages you to drink this as you would a bottle wine — shared with friends around a meal. But I think it’s best to be greedy with this one. LCBO 173641

Mill Street Brewery’s Autumn Harvest seasonal pack features their Nightmare on Mill Street Pumpkin Ale and Oktoberfest Beer. If you love the aroma of pumpkin pie, then the Nightmare is the one for you. Most of the pumpkin-ness starts and stops with the nose. The Oktoberfest Beer is a rich Bavarian-style lager that’s crisp and slightly sweet. It’s a well-balanced beer with a nice warming effect. Enjoy with another bottle ready to replace your empty. LCBO 313916

Beau’s unleased a wicked four-pack a couple weeks ago, in celebration of Oktoberfest and their upcoming throw down on Oct. 4 and 5. The pack features Smokin’ Banana Peels, Two Weeks Notice, Mr. Hyde, and Oktobock. Smokin’ Banana Peels is the most interesting of the bunch, crossing the banana-y flavours of a Weissbier with the greasy bacon goodness of a Rauchbier. While it’s not a breakfast meal replacement (that would just be downright irresponsible of us to suggest) it is a great breakfast beer that could replace something from your plate. Or, if it’s the weekend, go wild with the aforementioned non-suggestion. Boo-ya. LCBO 360081

There’s been a slow trickle of Quebec microbreweries making their way into the LCBO, thanks to the likes of Keep6 Imports, who deal with the messy business of bringing out of province beers into Ontario. Later this month there will be a slew of seasonals from our neighbouring province released at the LCBO, including La Vache Folle Imperial Milk Stout by Microbrasserie Charlevoix. Creamy, with strong coffee and chocolate notes, this milk stout is made for late night sessions. LCBO 334474