10/17/2014 02:58 EDT | Updated 12/17/2014 05:59 EST

Pumpkin beers flood the shelves for fall

In the same way that some retailers have jumped the gun on Christmas and are now stocking egg nog in their coolers, pumpkin beers have been on the shelves of your beer store since the end of August. 

On The Coast's beer columnist Rebecca Whyman says a typical pumpkin beer is a mild ale, with little to no bitterness and a malty backbone, but she says there's a lot of variety among the beers themselves.

"Some brewers opt to actually add hand-cut pumpkins and drop them into the mash, while others use a puree or just pumpkin spices to evoke that flavour," said Whyman.

Whyman shared four of her picks from local breweries:

Phillips Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale

This light ale is golden in colour, and combines fresh pumpkin with ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

"It is pretty light in the spices, they're not hitting you over the head with those," said Whyman.

Central City Red Racer Spiced Pumpkin Ale

This beer is slightly darker in colour than the Crooked Tooth. It uses Munich, Pale, Caravienne and CaraMunich malts. Using German pearl hops, it's also more bitter than the other beers on this list, at 40 International Bitterness Units, or IBUs. Like the Crooked Tooth, it uses real pumpkin with spices. 

Steamworks Pumpkin Ale

This pumpkin ale is a bit stronger, at six per cent, and the nutmeg flavour is stronger than in the other beers. It's spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, and each batch uses 100 pounds of local pumpkin mash.

Granville Island Brewing The Pumpkining

The Pumpkining is 6.66 per cent alcohol. It's light in colour, and the spices are more subtle than other beers.

"I wouldn't recognize this as pumpkin beer, but it does have a little bit of a vegetable kind of flavour ... which would probably be the real pumpkin," commented On The Coast host Stephen Quinn when he tried a sip.