The history of pumpkin beer goes back a long way. In fact, early Canadian colonialists would brew beer with just about anything—pumpkin, corn, spruce tips, and persimmons were all fair game. That is until they started shipping ingredients over from the old country. Once that happened, they stopped producing pumpkin beer. But in the mid-1980s, as the craft beer scene began to emerge, pumpkin beer made a resurgence, and today it’s more popular than ever.
Just adding pumpkin to a brew doesn’t really add that much extra flavour, but the spices associated with pumpkin beer sure do. These include cinnamon, cloves, and nearly any other spice you’d throw in a pumpkin pie. The result? Beer that is sometimes described as pumpkin pie without the crust. Most breweries are only making this delicious treat during the fall, so make sure you hunt these selections down before they’re gone.
Howe Sound Brewing’s Pumpkineater
This award-winning brew adds roasted pumpkin, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise to the more traditional brewing ingredients of hops, barley, yeast, and water. It’s worth mentioning that limited quantities are brewed each fall because they go quick! More info: Howe Sound Brewing
Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale
This full-bodied ale comes from a brewery that is no stranger to unusual ingredients. Using pumpkin meat, brown sugar, and spices, this is a beer that brewmaster Sam Calagione was winning awards for before the brewery even existed. At seven percent alcohol, this is a big beer with big flavour. More info: Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales
Southern Tier’s Pumpking
At 8.6 percent alcohol, this imperial pumpkin ale is a big one, but you wouldn’t know it from the taste. With a distinct graham cracker flavour, this is a real “pumpkin pie in a glass” beer. Just be careful about how many “slices” you have—it’ll catch up to you quick! More info: Southern Tier Brewing Company
Brooklyn Brewery’s Post Road Pumpkin Ale
This brewery adds pumpkin and nutmeg to their seasonal beer, which is suited to the beer aficionado with traditional tastes. This brew has more subtle pumpkin and spice flavours than some of the others on this list. More info: Brooklyn Brewery
Mill Street’s Nightmare on Mill Street
You have to love this brew, if only for the name. Made with wheat, this amber beer includes pumpkin and spices in the ingredient list. At five percent alcohol it’s the perfect session beer if you’re into pumpkin pie. More info: Mill St. Brewery