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Pumpkin Ales Are Here!

Pumpkin beer season is in full swing, which is a perfect opportunity to discuss the history and use of pumpkin in brewing!

Pumpkin beer originated in the American colonies, and was one of many creative substitutes used by colonists when faced with a shortage of barley and other grain. Fortunately for them, pumpkin is a gourd rich in starch and fermentable sugars. Hooray! Early recipes called for a “pressing” of pumpkins, similar to pressing apples for use in cider. The juices would run off into a copper kettle, surface-skimmed to remove pumpkin “goo”, boiled and fermented. Voila!

Nowadays, breweries use malt in addition to pumpkin. There are also variations on pumpkin brewing techniques: some use pumpkin puree, some cook the meat and discard skin and seeds prior to addition, while others still use the traditional pressing method. It would take a beer expert to discern how these varying techniques attribute to flavor and mouthfeel, so we’ll let them do that and I’ll just say, it all makes the beer taste GOOD!

One obvious observation to make about pumpkin is that it is relatively flavorless and odorless, no offense to pumpkin lovers out there. So what gives pumpkin beer its kick? SPICE! The common spices we associate with pumpkin beers, collectively known as “pumpkin pie spices”, account for a large percentage of “punch” in our pumpkin ales. The aroma and flavour of the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla and ginger, spell/smell FALL like nothing else. I’m suprised breweries haven’t invented a “scratch and sniff” 6pack holder reaking of fall aroma.

There are several local and nationwide pumpkin/gourd beers that are certainly worth trying. You will find the following pumpkin beers in our stores in bottle or on draft through November, and check trinkin.com for an updated bottle list/tap list.
-Williamsburg Alewerks Pumpkin (VIRGINIA)
-Blue Mountain Spooky (VIRGINIA)
-South Street Twisted Gourd (VIRGINIA)
-Flying Dog The Gourd Standard (MARYLAND)
-Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin (MAINE)
-Dogfish Head Punkin (DELAWARE)
-Southern Tier Warlock and Pumking (NEW YORK)
-Brooklyn Post Road (NEW YORK)
-Anderson Valley Fall Hornin'(CALIFORNIA)
-Strangeways Gourd of Thunder (VIRGINIA)
-Saranac Pumpkin Ale (NEW YORK)
-Terrapin Cran Pumpkin (GEORGIA)
-Timmerman’s Pumpkin Lambicus (BELGIUM)
-Oconnor Punkelweisse (VIRGINIA)
-Hardywood Farmhouse Pumpkin (VIRGINIA)
-Isley Pumpkin Stunt Dubbel (VIRGINIA)
-Ardent Sweet Potato & Sage Saison (no, not a pumpkin but whatever)
-UINTA Punk’n (UTAH)
-Kentucky Pumpkin Bourbon Ale (really?)

 

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