Pumpkin beer is one of the few truly original American styles of beer. Modern day pumpkin beers are loosely descended from the colonial tradition of brewing with pumpkin. In those days, malt and other fermentable ingredients were scarce, but pumpkins were easy to find, so they figured out how to use it as an ingredient in beer!
Today, pumpkin beers are brewed to celebrate the arrival of Autumn. There are many varieties of pumpkin beers, including Brown Ales, Porters and Lagers. Each provide a different base to stand up to the addition of pumpkin flesh and spices. Once the pumpkin beer recipe is established, the addition of spices is what sets these beers apart. The ultimate goal is to create a beer that reminds you of a pumpkin pie. Breweries use cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, cloves, and allspice – essentially anything you would put in a traditional pumpkin pie – to give pumpkin beer its unique flavor. The pumpkin flesh is added early in the brewing process. The spices are typically placed in a cheesecloth bag and steeped like tea either during the brewing process or, later, during the fermentation of the beer.
Four Peaks, a local Arizona brewery, has been making Pumpkin Porter for 20 years. They state that their Pumpkin Porter combines all the things that make a great pumpkin pie: nutmeg, allspice, ground clove, a little ginger, and pumpkin. Their loyal followers claim that it’s not really Autumn until that first sip of Pumpkin Porter hits their lips.
You can still find varieties of pumpkin beer at your local Bashas’. Be sure to check out Four Peaks, Pumpkin Porter while supplies last!