Once the temperature dips and the leaves start to turn, it's time to break out the spiced, sweet and toasted brews. .
Best Pumpkin Beer of 2021: Beers Worth Drinking This Fall
Skip the pumpkin spice lattes and slices of pumpkin pie and opt for one of these stouts or ales instead.It’s not often you see a pumpkin beer fall into the imperial sour category, but this complex version finishing with well-balanced notes of toasted marshmallow and your traditional pie spices to avoid overwhelming sweetness make this one a must-try ale which boldly defies the norm.New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin 6.4% ABV.Cherry Street has received a lot of Georgia love largely due to its neighborly vibe and consistently solid brews.Maryland Heights, Missouri.To make sure it’s not too crisp on the tongue, however, the brewery adds a dose of lactose.All the taste buds get some love after one—or three—of these.with it, offering up a beautiful, deep copper-colored ale with an intoxicating pumpkin spice blend on the nose.And unlike most barrel-aged brews with super high ABVs, this brew will give you all those flavors you know and love from the cellaring process without making you want to take a nap immediately after drinking it.You also don’t need to drink much of it to get into the Halloween spirit.New Belgium Voodoo Atomic Pumpkin ABV 6.4%.Atomic Pumpkin throws out the pumpkin beer rulebook that says every pumpkin beer must taste like pumpkin pie, and adds a spicy twist.Shipyard’s kind of the OG of Maine’s brewing scene, and the stalwart brewery offers up two different takes on the seasonal brew.Brewers used real pumpkin for the recipe and also age the beer in bourbon barrels, giving it slight notes of oak and vanilla, on top of cinnamon, ginger, and clove flavors.This is the pumpkin beer for people who say they don't like pumpkin beers.And because it’s brewed by people who always seem to brew beers that sound like that could be absolutely disgusting but always turn out fantastic, you can feel confident that you’re in good hands with a pumpkin pint from Dogfish Head.Elysian offers a bunch of pumpkin beers each year, but after drinking all of them, Punkuccino here is the clear standout.Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale ABV 7%.Stevens Point, Wisconsin.The folks at Stevens Point—who are behind this new offshoot label—must have just liquified a pumpkin pie and put it in a bottle, because this mimics the pumpkin pie experience better than any beer we’ve tried.Expect a host of intense pumpkin pie flavors like nutmeg and cinnamon, and just a flat out marvelous beer.“Guess now folks will have to find something else to joke about,” reads the bottle.Schlafly Pumpkin Ale ABV 8%.Lakefront Imperial Pumpkin ABV 13.4%. .
Brewing the Perfect Pumpkin Ale
Brewed with an indigenous fruit unknown to most Europeans until the sixteenth century, it was our first truly national beer.Its beginnings were humble—first brewed during colonial days out of necessity, when malt was scarce and fermentable sugars had to be found wherever possible.Inspired by one of George Washington’s recipes, Owens brewed a pumpkin ale and added an X Factor—spices (the colonial versions were unspiced).Some examples are outstanding: Southern Tier’s Pumking, Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin, and Cigar City’s Good Gourd spring to my mind immediately.This dearth of quality has led me on a quest, now more than ten years old, to homebrew the perfect pumpkin ale.My version is robust, brims with maltiness from a solid grain bill, packs tons of pumpkin flavor, and sports an assertive spice profile.My recipe uses an amber ale base, which has a strong malt backbone to support the pumpkin and spices and lets the orange color shine through.Maris Otter and Light Munich are the base malts, selected for their bready and toasty characteristics.The recipe is reinforced with Belgian specialty malts: Dingemans Aromatic and Caramunich for their malty aroma, hint of sweetness, and pumpkin-like orange and brown coloring.A dose of brown sugar rounds out the recipe and adds a touch of colonial authenticity.It was a common ingredient back in the day, plus it provides additional fermentables to bump up the alcohol percentage without making the beer cloying.Over the years, I’ve brewed Perfect Pumpkin Ale at several different original gravities (sometimes unintentionally).I mash the grains in a single step at 155°F (68°C) for 60 minutes to ensure a rich, full-bodied beer.Since the harvest has yet to occur, these early-release pumpkin ales have to be brewed with last year’s canned instead of fresh pumpkin—a violation of all that’s holy, as far as I’m concerned.The traditional Halloween jack o’ lantern pumpkins (a cultivar of Cucurbita pepo), aren’t the best choice.During roasting, the brown sugar will melt and caramelize onto the pumpkin, providing extra flavor.On brew day, let the pumpkin warm to room temperature and put it in the kettle for the duration of the boil.I’ve used Fuggles in the past, but now I prefer a higher alpha-acid variety—such as Northern Brewer, Galena, or Magnum—to keep the vegetal matter to a minimum.I add my spices just before knockout and later, in the form of a hot “tea,” during conditioning, much the way you would dry hop.Fermentation takes off like gangbusters, and it flocculates beautifully a few days later, leaving a wonderful pumpkin color and just a hint of desired sweetness.Its clean flavor profile is outstanding for so many styles, but it doesn’t enhance pumpkin ale.Even though primary fermentation will be complete in a few days, wait at least a week before racking to a secondary fermentor.My mind is boggled by brewers—obsessively quality-conscious folk—who commit hours of work to brewing and then ruin their masterpieces by adding dollar-store quality spices.The good stuff—gourmet cinnamon, freshly ground nutmeg and ginger—costs a mere pittance more, but the flavor blows away the cheap stuff.From conception to perfection, learn the ins and outs of developing your best beer from professional brewer Matt Czigler, Founder of Czig Meister Brewing, in Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®’s online course Recipe Development from Start to Finish. .
We Asked 12 Brewers: What's the Best Pumpkin Beer You've Ever
Some of the brewers below have created what are widely considered to be among the pumpkin beer style’s finest examples, so we trust them to help us find the best to pick from the patch.Its flavor profile is the epitome of the fall season: pumpkin pie, brown sugar, and cinnamon spice.It’s a great, cozy offering going into the colder months, and the high ABV makes it the perfect sipper by a bonfire.“I love Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale, because it‘s a mildly sweet pumpkin beer that isn’t overloaded with spices.There is a nice balance of pumpkin and cinnamon flavor; great fall beer.” —Sarah Kaneshiki, Brewer, Stone Brewing Company, Escondido, Calif.The perfect fall campfire beer.” —Josh Grenz, Co-owner and COO, Verboten Brewing & Barrel Project, Loveland, Colo.We decided to discontinue it in 2017, but who knows, maybe it will be back one day!” —Julie Verratti, Founder and Chief Brand Officer, Denizens Brewing Co., Silver Spring, Md.Will, mail me some!” —Kelly McKnight, Pilot Brewer, New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colo.“Bravery, a smaller brewery in Lancaster, Calif., makes a pumpkin beer with Belgian dubbel as the base, which I love.The dubbel style gives Pumpkin-Apple Pie more depth and allows its spices — cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg — to really shine through.It’s also the only pumpkin beer I’ve had with apple cider in it.” —Adrianna Hodapp, Brewer, Three Weavers Brewing Company, Inglewood, Calif.The spice is in balance, and the mouthfeel is spot on.” —Rob Qualls, Head Brewer, City Built Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich.It also has significant body, making it creamier and fuller than most others I’ve had.“ —Fred Karm, Founder and Brewmaster, Hoppin’ Frog Brewery, Akron, Ohio.Nestled inconspicuously along the route from Salzburg to Budejovice is a small brewery steeped in German brewing skill — it is just over the Bavarian border — but not bound by tradition.Technical precision and care showcase the peppery smoothness of several local pumpkin varieties in this bright and perfect bock.A perfect encapsulation of drinking in cooler climes.” —Josh Waldman, Head Brewer, Elysian Brewing Company, Seattle, Wash. .
The 11 Best Pumpkin Beers of Fall 2021
With fall comes fresh seasonal produce, cozy casseroles and soups, and tons of new Halloween candy.Breweries big and small across the country roll out autumn-inspired libations spiked with spices, coffee, chocolate and, of course, all the fresh pumpkin for a limited time. .
How to Homebrew Pumpkin Spice Ale, According to America's Top
Which came first, the pumpkin or the spice?“If you don’t use pumpkin, call it a Halloween beer,” Joe Bisacca, co-founder of Elysian Brewing, says.“Roasting softens up the pumpkins and allows us to puree them,” Trogner says.Elysian, one of the earliest breweries to make a pumpkin beer when it released Night Owl back in 1997, toasts some of the pumpkin seeds used on brew day before adding them.“I’m not really sure what effect the pumpkin seeds wind up having,” Bisacca says of the tradition at his brewery.She says, “To have the right balance between the pumpkin and the spices, it’s ideal to use the real thing [pumpkin].” She adds that imitation flavors and extracts can have a fake-tasting quality to them.Getting “the real thing” into your beer is as easy as opening a can of puree and adding it right to the mash.“For the pumpkin ale, when you add in that spice regimen, that’s when the beer really comes alive,” Williamson says.(The most common mix is ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.At Schlafly, Williamson says, “We do mash a little higher [temperature] to have a higher final gravity and more mouthfeel.” He adds that the base beer is like a malt-forward strong ale before the spices are added to it.Although the base of Master of Pumpkins is a twist on the typical dark beer, “We think a Belgian-style yeast is a perfect complement for those fall spices.”.Across the board, the brewers here say hops are just there to add enough bitterness to balance the malt and pumpkin sweetness in these beers.The team at Elysian doesn’t think narrowly about the season when they’re dreaming up their next pumpkin brew.It’s not what you can add with a pumpkin beer, but rather how much. .
17 Best Pumpkin Beers 2021
"The great thing about pumpkin is it leaves a lot up to the interpretation of the brewer," says Matt Simpson, The Beer Sommelier.Brewers can also ratchet up the taste of the pumpkin by adding more of it to the brewing process as an ingredient, or dial it back by going easy on the gourd.Plus, pumpkin matches especially well with a whole host of other autumnal flavors: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and other baking spices. .
7 Locally Brewed Pumpkin Spice Beers That Are Actually Pretty Tasty
This limited-edition brew is infused with spices and made with raw pumpkin.With two locations in Sterling and Leesburg, Crooked Run Fermentation offers their Marzen-style Oktoberfest lager made with pumpkin spice on their seasonal draft list.The Pumpkin Pie Bock is malt-y and hoppy with a 5.8 percent ABV.The Pumkin Drublic is a pumpkin spice ale blended with pie spices.The Pumpkin Eater is an 8.7 percent ABV saison made with real pumpkin, vanilla, and pumpkin spice blend. .