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Pumpkin, Spice, and Everything Nice

The first pumpkin beer arrived in our office recently, so we thought we’d repost this popular article in which Tom Wilmes got the scoop on successfully spiced beers from three pumpkin pros.

Tom Wilmes Aug 14, 2017 - 10 min read

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Brewers generally agree that there are two ways to design a pumpkin beer—go for a harvest-style ale that highlights the vegetal flavors of the pumpkin itself or dig into the spice rack and make a beer that mimics a pumpkin pie … unless, of course, you’re making a pumpkin-enhanced stout or porter, in which case pumpkin can add an umami-like background complexity with perhaps a dash of spice; or a barrel-aged pumpkin brew with oaky notes of bourbon or rum; or even a spontaneously fermented pumpkin sour such as Allagash Brewing’s Ghoulschip (Portland, Maine); or a Brett-fermented pumpkin ale such as Elysian Brewing’s Headless Horsey (Seattle, Washington).

As the cult-like obsession with pumpkin beers intensifies—pumpkin beers are typically the top-selling seasonal release among breweries that make them—brewers are finding inventive ways to explore the fringes of this once gimmicky style.

The Great Pumpkin

It’s said that, years ago, Elysian Founder Dick Cantwell and fellow brewers made a pumpkin ale, and it was pretty good. They tried again, and it was terrible. So they made a third batch and invited a few hundred friends to the Seattle-based brewery for a tasting party.

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