Pumpkins are good for so much more than making a mess on your kitchen table and being carved into silly faces. Bay Area breweries are putting all that pumpkin deliciousness to good use, and just in time for Date Night! Check out the list below, created by 7×7, that dishes all the scoop on the best places to get the seasonal, and oh so delicious, pumpkin brewsky. There’s no reason we adults can’t get our pumpkin fun in, as well!
If you enjoy the mild spice of summertime Belgian ale, it’s an easy seasonal transition to a fall pumpkin beer. Pumpkin beer was an American original, a colonial beverage invented out of necessity by beer-loving pilgrims, who had more access to Native American squash than English barley malt.
When cooked at a low heat, enzymes in the pumpkin flesh convert starch to sugar, which the yeast can later ferment into alcohol. Pumpkin beer recipes improved over the years and the rustic style remained popular from the 17th to the 19th century, when it was swept into the dustbin of beer history by malt-based beers produced by increasingly large industrial breweries.
The craft beer movement of the 1980s revived many forgotten beer styles and Buffalo Bill’s Brewery was the first to bring back pumpkin beer. Every year more artisan breweries include a pumpkin offering in their fall lineup. Most of the beers, including Buffalo Bill’s Original Pumpkin beer, add pumpkin pie spices such as nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and clove.
Here are a few of the best selections from this year’s crop:
Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela (Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales) – This Michigan brewer uses open fermentation, oak barrel aging, and adds pumpkin puree into the mash, into the boil, and into the barrel to give their beer an authentic colonial pedigree. The sourness of the wild fermentation is balanced by light spice and the addition of rich cacao nibs. It’s a wonderfully tart session beer.
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale (Dogfish Head Brewery) – Brewery founder Sam Calagione crafted the recipe for this popular seasonal beer while he was still a home brewer. Dogfish Head combines baked pumpkin meat, organic brown sugar, and touches of cinnamon and nutmeg to brew this brown ale. The result is a full-bodied beer, smooth without being either cloying or overly spiced.
Want to know the final two breweries on this list? Read the full 7×7 article here.
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