Even today, pumpkin beers are are generally released in the fall (although we see pumpkin brands being released as early as late July this year) and are available until early winter, when all the dark, bold beers get released.
Brewers today generally have two roads to take in making a pumpkin beer: a pumpkin spiced beer, or a beer with pumpkin in it.
Pumpkin spiced beers don't actually contain any pumpkin, but rather feature spices that are very commonly associated with the flavor of pumpkin pie. Cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and all-spice, to name a few. This is a significantly easier way of relaying the flavors the brewer desires, and most people can't even tell that there's not actually any pumpkin in the beer.
Beers made with pumpkin in it are more difficult to make. Raw pumpkin tastes nothing like our common conception of 'pumpkin'. It tastes like most squash, and may exhibit some sweetness. To prepare pumpkin for inclusion in the brewing process, most brewers will roast the pumpkin meat (commonly cubed) in spices and then use that for making the beer. Some brewers will include roasted pumpkin in the mash rather than introducing it to the boil or secondary, providing a slow, gradual extraction of flavor and spice.
How can you tell the difference? Take a look at the bottle, and somewhere on it you will see brewed with spices or brewed with pumpkin.
Last year, Grand Rapids brewers grouped together for the “Beer City Grand Pumpkin” project, where 13 GR Breweries all did their take on a 'pumpkin beer' and released them on the same day.
Today there are more than 400 pumpkin beers available nationwide, and our great beer state of Michigan has quite a few to offer as well.
As the weather starts to get colder and bonfires more frequent, there's nothing better than kicking back with some friends and getting into a good pumpkin beer.
Here's a few pumpkin brews for you to check out this fall, and keep them in mind for the MBG Fall Beer Festival at Eastern Market in Detroit! Many of the breweries will be bringing their fall wares, including delicious pumpkin beers!
- Arcadia Ales Jaw Jacker
- Blue Cow Cafe Pumpkin Chunkin Ale
- BAD Brewery Linus's Pumpkin Rye
- BAD Brewery Lucy's Pumpkin Spice
- Blue Tractor Gourd to Death Pumpkin Brown Ale
- Boatyard Brewing Co. Transom Jack
- Bravo! Restaraunt Roasted Pumpkin Ale
Greenbush Brewing Company Unicorn Killer
- Griffin Claw Brewing Co. Screamin' Pumpkin Ale
- Griffin Claw Brewing Co. Bourbon Screamin' Pumpkin Ale
- Griffin Claw Brewing Co. Pumpkin Spice IPA
- Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela
- Kuhnhenn All Hallows Ale
- Liberty Street Punkin' Pie Ale
- Motor City Brewing Works Pumpkin Ale
- New Holland Brewing Co. Ichabod
New Holland Brewing Co. Oak Aged Ichabod (Rum)
- North Peak Brewing Co. Hooligan Hoppy Pumpkin Ale
- Olde Peninsula Pumpkin Ale
- Osgood Brewing Co. Shackhuddle Belgo Pumpkin Ale
- Paw Paw Brewing Co. Twisted Pumpkin
- Saugatuck Brewing Co. Pumpkin Chai
- Short's Brewing Co. Funkin Punkin
- Soo Brewing Co. Pumpkin Drublic
Woodward Avenue Brewers WAB Pumpkin Ale
- Waldorff Brewpub Candy Snatcher Pumpkin Ale
- Wolverine Brewing Co. Cucurbita Smiles
- Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale
- Southern Tier Pumpking
- Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin
- Harpoon UFO Pumpkin
- Southern Tier Brewing Co. PumKing