Pumpkin Ale: The Great Debate

October 7, 2009 | admin

pumkin aleAs far as I can tell, pumpkin ale goes back to the time of George Washington and perhaps farther. Particularly brewed around harvest, these so-called spiced ales reflected the need to use up as many resources as possible so that nothing was wasted. You see, pumpkin doesn’t actually add that much flavor to a beer. Often what you’re tasting in the beer is spices added by the brewer. These spices give the taste and feel of pumpkin pie rather than the sweet, buttery taste of the gourd.

The funny thing is that spiced ales are much older, and certain spiced ales have been associated with certain holidays and festivals, especially harvest and solstice. In my opinion, pumpkin beer is a novelty that has become somewhat mainstream because the flavors invoke fall, harvest, celebration, oncoming winter and festivities. Just look at the way people get excited about pumpkin lattes at Starbucks. Read more about the popularity of pumpkin beer in this article.

It brings up a good question though. Do you think pumpkin ales are a seasonal gem or a bad blend?

Anybody know of any Montana breweries doing a pumpkin ale this year?



  1. Paul says:

    Tim, I just got back from St. Louis where I had O’Fallon Pumpkin Ale, Schlafly Pumpkin Ale, and Dogfish Head Punkin. I am not brewing one this year, but I do enjoy them every fall!

  2. Tim O'Leary says:

    Hey Tim
    We hope to tap our Pumpkin beer Friday the 9th. We brew it with local pumpkins, honey, a dash of pumpkin pie spice, and some fresh grated ginger. We’re happy as heck that we’re able to revive this favorite. We also find the pumpkin is detectable, and helps to add a creamy mouth feel.

  3. Bill Hyland says:

    Definitely Gem! I have been a fan of pumpkin beer for a long time now. Growing up on the east coast, I was able to enjoy this style every Fall. Now I am able to brew one every Fall at Bozeman Brewing Company. We use 240 pounds of organic pumpkin in our mash and kettle for a substantial pumpkin flavor to back up the wonderful aromatics from our late kettle spice additions. I just brewed this one yesterday so look for it in our tasting room in a few weeks.

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