Falling into the season with pumpkin beers
There is a chill in the air and the colors or red, orange and yellow dominate the tree line. Yes, Fall has arrived and with it official pumpkin beer season. The question is simple; are you or aren't you a pumpkin beer fan? People in general either fall head over heals for these specialty brews or can't stand them. The history of pumpkin beer in the US goes all the way back to colonial times. Pumpkin is a native plant and provided early settlers with a viable alternative to malt. It was commonly used as an addition to the grain bill to provide fermentable sugars in the wort. In a pinch when malt was not available it could stand alone and be used as the sole fermentable in a recipe. As time progressed quality malts became more accessible and the need for pumpkin to assist in the fermentable schedule of a beer dwindled. By the mid 1800's the use of pumpkin in brewing was limited to a flavor addition. Pumpkin has never recaptured the role as staring fermentable in brewing but come Fall it is allowed to shine as one of the seasons all star flavors. Craft brewers have harnessed the flavor as a way to bring the essence of Fall into the glasses of their thirsty consumers. Most pumpkin beers shoot for more of a pumpkin pie flavor versus that of just simple pumpkin. This is usually done by adding additional flavors to the beer including nutmeg, clove and cinnamon. While the traditional base beer for this style is a pale colored ale with just a touch of hop bitterness you will also pumpkin stouts, porters, browns and even Belgian versions. One of the best ways to jump into this style is to brew a batch yourself. This year we went with an imperial pumpkin porter recipe we crafted and added squash roasted with brown sugar along with a nice dose of spices. It's carbonating at this exact moment in time and we can't wait to pour a glass of it using our new homemade keezer system. If you're not a home brewer or just want to dive deeper into this style we highly encourage you to try versions from your local breweries or check out what your nearest bottle shop has. Not a pumpkin beer fan? No worries. Just hang in there until the end of November as this beer style only shines until Thanksgiving. Cheers and remember to get out and explore craft culture daily!