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A Brewmaster’s Guide: Incorporating Pumpkin Puree into Your Brewing Process

beer in pint glass sitting on wooden table

Incorporating pumpkin into everything from cakes to beer has become a yearly American tradition. But it turns out brewing pumpkin beer isn’t exactly a new idea solely stemming from the nation’s autumn obsession. It’s actually thought to have ties all the way back to colonial America, before being rediscovered during the 1980s craft beer boom. Their popularity has only grown since, with homebrewers and craft breweries alike concocting their own pumpkin beer recipes.

Table of Contents

  • What is the Base of a Pumpkin Beer Recipe?
  • The Type of Pumpkin to Add
  • Adding Pumpkin to the Brew
  • Adding Spices or Other Fruit Purees
  • Brewing Pumpkin Beer

What is the Base of a Pumpkin Beer Recipe?

A pumpkin beer is generally brewed using a light-to-moderately hopped pale ale to prevent overwhelming the naturally earthy and nutty flavor of pumpkin. However, pumpkin can easily be added to a wide variety of beer recipes – particularly stouts and porters, which complement spices and dessert-like flavors, such as chocolate and vanilla typically used in pumpkin beers.

The Type of Pumpkin to Add

pumpkin sitting in garden

There are two different types of pumpkin you could add when brewing pumpkin ale: ready-to-use fruit puree or a pumpkin mash or puree you’ve made yourself. Fresh pumpkin puree is generally the preferred method since it’s easier and less consuming; it also guarantees the freshness and ripeness of your pumpkin. You should not use pumpkin pie filling when brewing pumpkin beer. Pre-made fillings have sugar, spices, and additional flavors in them that can affect the taste of your brew.

Adding Pumpkin to the Brew

When pumpkin is added to the brew depends on the pumpkin flavor you’re looking to achieve. Some choose to add it during their primary or secondary fermentation for a brighter pumpkin flavor, while others add it within the last 5 to 10 minutes of their boil for a lighter pumpkin taste. 

Adding Spices or Other Fruit Purees

person pouring hops into stove at craft brewery

Whether you’re baking a pie or brewing pumpkin ale, spices are always added – and for good reason. Spices are brewing ingredients that enhance the flavor of pumpkin, adding warmth and helping bring out its nutty, earthy flavor. Pre-made pumpkin pie spice works, but adding your own blend lets you tailor the pumpkin beer recipe exactly to how you want it. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, clove, and even lavender go well with pumpkin. They can be added at any point during the brewing process, but they’re usually added at the end of the boil to preserve the most flavor.

If you want to create an out-of-the-box recipe, you can add other fruit purees to go with pumpkin. Apples, oranges, and peaches are just a few fresh, real fruit purees that compliment pumpkin and add character to pumpkin beer recipes.

Brewing With Pumpkin 

Ride the wave of pumpkin beer’s popularity and create your own distinct brew! Experiment with different spices, fruit purees, and brewing techniques to discover the recipe that’s unique to you and your brand.

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