Who Needs Pumpkin Pie—Pumpkin Beers are Here!

Written by Meghan Storey for craftbeer.com

Even thinking about baking a pie from scratch is making me tired! First it’s the fancy French baking terms—personally, I think à la mode is the only important one! Then it’s the obscure ingredients that you know you don’t just have lying around the kitchen—can we say finely chopped crystallized ginger?

For those of us who aren’t best friends with our convection ovens (or even acquaintances), fall brings a beer with flavors so much resembling a favorite autumn dessert it’s often referred to as “a slice of pumpkin pie in a glass.”

Pumpkin beers, which surprisingly can be made with or without actual pumpkin as an ingredient, are often added to a brewery’s menu during the fall months. This style relies heavily on the seasonal flavors and aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and allspice.

To find the latest and greatest of the pumpkin beers available this fall, we asked Brewers Association member breweries to share their pumpkin lineups. Here’s what they shared with us.

Avery Rumpkin PumpkinRumpkin Pumpkin Ale | Avery Brewing Co.
Boulder, Colorado

Rumpkin is brewed with pumpkin and spices and aged in Gosling’s Old Rum barrels. We wondered what would happen if a monstrous pumpkin ale, plump and full of spicy gourdiness, was aged in fine, fresh rum barrels to add suggestions of delicate oak and candied molasses—Rumpkin is what happens!

Availability – limited release to CO, CA, TX, VA, GA, MO, MA

The Great Pumpkin Ale | Cambridge Brewing Company
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Cambridge Great PumpkinOur pumpkins are organically grown for us under contract with two local farms: The Farm School in Athol, MA, and Wilson Farms in Lexington, MA. Our pale malted barley is grown in Massachusetts under contract by Lazy Acres Farm in Hadley, MA, and malted for us to spec by Valley Malt, also in Hadley, MA. CBC supports and promotes local, sustainable agriculture and small family farms, and utilizes local ingredients in its beers and its restaurant at all times. Great Pumpkin Ale is one of our beers which most closely holds to our philosophy of artisanal beer and food consciousness.

Availability –  On draft at Cambridge Brewing Company, and in the Cambridge/Boston area at craft beer-focused tap rooms and fine restaurants. It will be released in 22oz bottles for the first time, with availability throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts thanks to distribution by the Craft Brewers Guild.

Nunkin Ale | East End Brewing Company
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Nunkin Ale is essentially a pumpkin beer brewed without pumpkins. We are “embracing the lie,” as we like to say around here. Nunkin was released on September 10, at the brewery and at the Growler Shop. Learn more about Nunkin.

Availability – Southwestern PA

Pumpkin Fact! Chris Stevens of New Richmond, Wisconsin holds the World Record for the largest pumpkin at 1810.5 pounds.

Four Peaks Pumpkin AlePumpkin Porter | Four Peaks Brewing Company
Tempe, Arizona

We started with our tasty Porter, to which we added subtle pumpkin and spice flavors.

Availability – AZ

Hangar 24 Pumpkin Porter | Hangar 24 Craft Brewery
Redlands, California

Hangar 24’s Pumpkin Porter is a strong, spiced porter brewed with locally grown, roasted pumpkins, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice.

Availability – Southern California

Hoppin Frog FrogFrog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale  | Hoppin’ Frog Brewery
Akron, Ohio

We call it double because it is about double the ABV of a standard beer at 8.2% ABV. To ensure a balanced flavor is achieved, we roast some of the pumpkin, and add some raw. In the final beer, you get both fresh pumpkin and roasted pumpkin flavors. It won the gold medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival in the Pumpkin Ale (field beer) category. It’s like a pumpkin pie in a glass!

Availability – CO, OH, NY, NJ, PA, IN, IL, GA, FL, MA, and KS

Pumpkin Fact! Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.

Lakefront Pumpkin LagerPumpkin Lager | Lakefront Brewery
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Using real pumpkin and a proprietary blend of spices made here in Milwaukee by the acclaimed Spice House, our brewers’ lager this beer for four full weeks. This extra time gives the Lakefront Pumpkin Lager a deep, smooth richness that no ale can match. A frothy entry leads to a dry, medium-to-full body of intense cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and candied yam flavor on a nutty, whole grain toast palate. Pumpkin Lager finishes with a drier spice and light toffee fade. Caramel and Munich malts reinforce this beer’s mouthfeel and lend to the malty sweetness. A nicely balanced spice beer for those cool fall nights. 6% ABV

Availability – Use the Lakefront locator.

Lavery Stingy JacksStingy Jack Pumpkin Ale | Lavery Brewing Company
Erie, Pennsylvania

Stingy Jack is brewed with locally grown Port Farm pumpkins, the finest American hops and barley and a hauntingly delicious spice blend. The final product is a caramelly, malty and toasty libation with a dry finish.

Availability – Erie, PA and Pittsburgh, PA-areas

Punkin’ Pie Ale | Liberty Street Brewing Company
Plymouth, Michigan

Why Punkin’? Because we use no pumpkin to produce this beer. This is an easy drinking version of a lightly hopped Amber Ale that is seasoned with a specially blended combination of spices. The caramel sweetness and bready character of the specialty malts mingle with the spices, to make you think you are eating an actual piece of pie.

Availability – This beer is on tap now at the tasting rooms, and in limited keg distribution throughout southern Michigan.

Mothers Mr PumpkinMr. Pumpkin | Mother’s Brewing Company
Springfield, Missouri

To get the pumpkin pie flavor that we were seeking, we baked hundreds of pounds of pumpkin pie (minus the crust of course), complete with spices. We kept the beer at 5.0% ABV to make it a nice, sessionable brew. It’s a great blend of pumpkin pie and beer.

Availability – Southwest MO

Pumpkin Fact!Around 90 to 95% of the processed pumpkins in the U.S. are grown in Illinois.

New Holland IchabodIchabod Pumpkin Ale | New Holland Brewing Company
Holland, Michigan

Ichabod combines malted barley and real pumpkin with cinnamon and nutmeg in a delicious and inviting brew. A rewarding complement to many dishes, Ichabod pairs well with autumnal foods such as poultry and root vegetables. After dinner, try it with your favorite dessert! 5.2% ABV

Availability – MI, IL, SC, NC, PA, IN, NJ, MO, VA

Rogue Pumpkin PatchPumpkin Patch Ale | Rogue Ales
Newport, Oregon

Pumpkin Patch Ale is a beer made using fresh pumpkins grown in a patch that borders Rogue’s 42 acre hop yard. The pumpkins have now ripened and are in the process of being harvested. The pumpkins will then be picked, loaded into Rogue’s farm truck, driven immediately 77 miles to our brewery in Newport, quickly roasted, and pitched into the brew kettle to create a batch of Pumpkin Patch Ale. Pumpkin Patch Ale is brewed with 13 ingredients: Rogue Farms Pumpkins, Great Western 2-Row, Carawheat, Weyermann Carafe Malts, Rogue Micro Hopyard Rebel Hops, Ginger, Cloves, vanilla bean, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, free range coastal water and Pacman Yeast.

Availability – select west coast markets

Schaffly Pumpkin AlePumpkin Ale | Schlafly Beer
Saint Louis, Missouri

Our Pumpkin Ale has a bold, big pumpkin taste, flavored with pumpkin squash, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. It has a mild character, with little bitterness and a malty backbone, allowing the flavor of the pumpkin squash and spices to take the lead. While pumpkin beers were produced in the early days of the American colonies, they were different from the pumpkin beers we know today. Colonists used pumpkin and squash as the fermenting medium, since malted barley was scarce. Once malt became more readily available, it replaced these alternatives to grain. In the 1990s, American craft brewers reintroduced the style to the delight of pumpkin beer drinkers.

Availability – (300 mile radius of St. Louis, minus Chicago) in MO, IL, MS, IN, IA, KS, TN, KY, as well as in small quantities in VA, DC, MD and NJ.

Terrapin PumpkinfestPumpkinfest | Terrapin Beer Co.
Atlanta, Georgia

Pumpkinfest is an Oktoberfest-style Spiced Beer. This beer has the spice profile of a seasonal pumpkin beer and the malt profile of a traditional Oktoberfest. This fall seasonal is a hybrid with the best of both styles.

Meghan Storey, the Brewers Association’s Web Editor, has been lucky enough to work in the world of craft beer for the past four years. She holds a degree in Print Journalism from the University of Mississippi, and has recently relocated to Nashville, TN. She loves to introduce friends to new craft beers and food pairings. Since beginning work on CraftBeer.com she can be found adding beer to just about everything she cooks.

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