ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

Back to Wisconsin, my cheesehead friends

There’s a lot of pumpkin beer out here…

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Pumpkin beer is a beer fad out here, it seems. All of the local breweries are making one. We saw these six at the COOP.

According to the “history” that was on these websites, pumpkins were more plentiful than barley, so brewers historically turned to pumpkins to get more sugar for their mash. Most of the beers use pumpkin or pumpkin puree, but some of the other breweries just add a pumpkin flavoring. Most of the beers also add cinnamon or clove flavoring.

Sam and I tasted the Pumpkinhead from Smuttynose, supposedly the best-selling of the pumpkin beers. It was an OK ale. That’s as articulate as I get when reviewing beer.

It seems many of the East Coast microbreweries are making a Pumpkin Ale, while Midwest microbreweries are making Oktoberfest. I suspect it stems from the German brewing tradition in the Midwest while Eastern breweries may have a stronger English tradition. Beer Advocate lists 354 different pumpkin ales and 791 Oktoberfest lagers. Unfortunately, I have no quick-and-dirty way to categorize the breweries by geography, or else I’d back up my claims of more pumpkin ale on the east coast with some statistics. I can do that, you know…

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