It’s Pumpkin Time


Pumpkins and Beer
Photo Courtesy of Anne Holcomb

The fall season is upon us, so it’s time to start hiding in the house more as the weather slowly creeps a little bit colder each day. The leaves are changing, pumpkins being picked, wagon rides boasting with screaming kids, corn mazes open and seasonal drinks are being served. One in particular is pumpkin beer.

There are more than 300 different types of pumpkin beer brewed all over the world. I wanted to show you a chart of the different kinds of pumpkin beer, but that would over load my blog. I decided instead to give you the top ten as ranked on BeerAdvocate:

 

Name of Beer

Brewery

Classification

ABV

Rating

1

Pumpkin Ale

Selin’s Grove Brewing Company

Pumpkin Ale

5.60%

A

2

The Great Pumpkin

Elysian Brewing Company

Pumpkin Ale

8.10%

A

3

Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

Saint Louis Brewery / Schlafly Tap Room

Pumpkin Ale

8.00%

A-

4

Pumpkin Ale

Williamsburg AleWerks

Pumpkin Ale

8.00%

A-

5

Treat (Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter)

Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Pumpkin Ale

7.80%

A-

6

Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Cigar City Brewing

Pumpkin Ale

9.00%

A-

7

Pumking

Southern Tier Brewing Company

Pumpkin Ale

8.60%

A-

8

Kuhnhenn All Hallows Ale

Kunhenn brewing Company

Pumpkin Ale

6.50%

A-

9

Great Pumpkin Ale

Cambridge Brewing Company

Pumpkin Ale

4.20%

A-

10

The Horseman’s Ale

Defiant Brewing Company

Pumpkin Ale

5.20%

A

Pumpkin beer has been around since colonial times. It was more of an American thing than a European thing: pumpkins were a native plant in the Americas. At harvest time farmers would have an abundance of pumpkins because they grew very easily. The meat of the pumpkin took the place of the malt and other spices were added to take the place of the ingredients they didn’t have.

Pumpkin beer continued to be brewed until the 19th century when pumpkins weren’t viewed as a wonderful thing in beer anymore. Malt, barley and other ingredients became accessible which replaced the pumpkin and it’s friends. There was a brief glimmer of hope in the 1840s, but didn’t become popular like it had been before.

Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale
Photo Courtesy of BeerAdvocate

Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale from Buffalo Bill’s Brewery revived the pumpkin beer craze in the mid-80s. Since then, most breweries have made versions of “pumpkin ale” or what they think is pumpkin ale. If you are looking for true pumpkin ale, read the ingredients. I don’t know how many times I have picked up a pumpkin beer to try, read the ingredients and then put it back because it wasn’t even made with pumpkin.

Today’s trend seems to be going more to pumpkin pie tasting beer rather than actual pumpkin beer, but every one is different. To get the pumpkin spice taste brewers will add nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.

Next week, I’m going to have my own taste testing with a couple of my friends. I am going to buy a variety of pumpkin beers and have each one of us rate them. I will talk about all the ingredients in the beer and try to explain the actual flavors I taste. We will be drinking a true pumpkin beer all the way over to the other end of the spectrum of trying a true pumpkin pie beer. If anyone has suggestions on what we should try please drop me a note and I’ll try to find the beer to try.

Also, I wanted to find pumpkin wine, well if some body makes it, and compare it to apple wine. Apples are another big item for this time of year. If any one knows, please let me know.

I only mentioned a brief history of pumpkin beer in my blog this week. If you want a more complete history of pumpkin ale, check out Serious Eats.

Disclaimer: Please don’t drink until you’re 21 years old. If you do drink, please don’t drive!

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