Pumpkin beer ruminations

Pumpkins in Central Oregon
Pumpkins in Central Oregon

I’ve got pumpkin beer on the mind… right now, I’m the #1 result on Google for "pumpkin ale recipe", #3 for "pumpkin ale", #7 for "pumpkin beer"… On Yahoo, I’m #2 for "pumpkin ale recipe" and #9 for "pumpkin ale". Does that make me an expert?

Over on BeerAdvocate, they actually have a Pumpkin Ale style, with 110 different beers listed! Not all of those are still produced, though. Still, that’s a fair showing for such a unique style.

Their top-rated pumpkin beer? Punkin Ale from Dogfish Head.

I think it would be fun to do a pumpkin beer tasting; gather as many pumpkin ales as you can find (homebrewed included!), draw up some rating sheets, and go to town. Would anyone be interested in doing this? I’d have to get my own pumpkin ale bottled and ready first.

Heck, maybe I’ll just do that for myself; buy a bottle or two of every pumpkin beer I can find locally, and review ’em all against each other: Pumpkin Challenge ’06. That would be fun to write.

I have yet to run into another homebrewer that makes a pumpkin ale, although the Central Oregon Homebrewers Organization (which, I’m sad to say, I am not yet a member of, though I am on the mailing list) just did a group brew of a pumpkin ale—and apparently were using a giant pumpkin as the primary fermenter! That sounds like a neat gimmick, but I’d be very, very skeptical… pumpkins don’t last that long after they’ve been opened, and I’d be nervous of letting a pumpkin sit for days with a fermenting liquid in it…

Besides, that would have to be a one big pumpkin to hold 5+ gallons of beer in it.

One final thought… that photo I found on Flickr there, that would make a pretty good beer label, I think. Something to play around with.


  1. I brewed a pumpkin spice ale as my second ever batch from a recipe off the internet just a couple weeks ago. It was a bit too ambitious, I think. I tried a bit of it after bottling, which may have been a mistake, since it tasted like death. Since it’s already in bottles, I figure I might as well give it a few weeks to condition and see what happens. Any chance Pumpkin ales are supposed to taste like cheap wine prior to conditioning?

  2. It depends on the recipe you used, and how much malts/sugars went into the batch. And if you used canned pumpkin pie mix, which is pre-sweetened and spiced, etc., then you might end up with something weird, too…

    But give it some time in the bottles, and then try it again. It might get better. I hope so!

  3. Our group of friends has had the "Great Pumpkin Debate" for 2 years now. We will be having another one the first weekend in November this year. We do the tasting blind. We all live in different areas of the country, so we can scout out different local brews to bring to the event. This is a great party idea; have everyone bring a different 6 pack.

    Oh, Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale has won both years. Happy tasting!

  4. For a great pumpkin ale, i recommend dogfish head punkin ale, buffalo bill’s pumpkin ale, or my personal favorite weyerbacher’s pumpkin ale.

  5. I brewed this beer last year for thanksgiving. It was awesome. One thing that I’ve learned puting spices in beer… a little goes a long way. When I cooked my pumpkin, I sprinkled corn sugar on it, and cooked it for two hours at 250. I entered it into a local BJCP judged contest and took second place (in the veg category).

  6. Hi There,

    I’m very flattered that you like the photo I took of the pumpkins at the farm at Chewonki; however, because we are an educational non-profit that runs programs for children, I would rather not have the photo associated with a beer site, as great as Shipyard is. Just something to take into consideration. Is there anyway you could replace our photo with another great photo of pumpkins, or remove our name from the site?

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