Monday, October 10, 2011

Drinking A Little History: Pumpkin Ale

I have been drinking beer for a good while now and have tried a bunch of different brands and styles, I have come to realize that although I can say that I’ve tried this brand, or I’ve tried this other one over here, I haven’t really taken in any extra knowledge about what goes into making an ale, or a lager, or a stout.

I did set a goal for myself for the month of October. It’s to help me learn and understand what goes into making a beer and I also wanted to learn how to drink beer to truly analyze it.

I think it will be a lot of fun soaking up new information about something that I drink on a regular basis, but have very little knowledge about.


Let’s begin with a little bit of history shall we?

Dating back to the 1800’s, pumpkin beers (along with porters and ales) were sought to have many heath benefits (because they were prepared according to physicians directions) and they also aided in those cold winter nights when mixed with rum and brown sugar. Served hot obviously. The drink was called a “flip”.

Since pumpkins and brown sugar are native to the US, pumpkins (their meat) took place of malt because of it’s fermentable sugar content.  Because of the sugar content, pumpkins were used in custards, pies, and puddings.

Eventually the pompion use was considered rustic and basically a food of the Pilgrim times, Hops and malts stepped in and pumpkins became just a flavoring agent and not the main attraction in beers.

Modern pumpkin beers made by microbreweries now look for that ‘dessert in a glass’ flavor using spices and flavors that are found primarily in pumpkin pie. Either baking the pumpkin and using it’s pulp, or pressing the pumpkin like an apple, different breweries make it all sorts of ways, all using different spices and flavors to achieve that ‘pie’ flavor.

The Pumpking Ale is a nice nod to it’s historical roots.


Appearance: Bold copper-orange color, just like, you guessed it, A PUMPKIN! This brew is very nice to look at.

Smell: The first notes that hit your nose are the strong smell of fresh pumpkin flesh with notes of cinnamon and a bit of nutmeg. Maybe fresh baked sugar cookies too?

Taste: Right off the bat, the spices send a sensation up your nose. The taste is literally pie in a glass.

Mouth Feel: Has a nice spicy (not hot spicy, like cinnamon, you idiot) finish. It is very enjoyable for a dessert beer and packs at punch right at the end at almost nine percent alcohol. After my first glass, I was feeling great.

Final Thoughts: I loved this beer. Along with Oktoberfest, I now have another brew that I can thoroughly enjoy in the fall. Although I have just recently learned about pumpkin ale recently, I feel that it will be something that I will seek out again next time I decide I want something a little different to sip on.

Happy Drinking!

(Sources. Serious Eats, Oxford Companion To Beer, American Heritage Vegetables)

1 comment:

Val said...

Wow! Pumpkin beer, who knew?
I am not a regular beer drinker so I don't have much knowledge on the subject. I was intrigued to learn the history of this beer! Very interesting as they say!