I know, I know… pumpkin ale is probably a little overplayed, but some of us just can’t get enough of the stuff. Plus, there may be an opportunity to improve on what some pumpkin beer lacks… quality local pumpkins!
I recently had the opportunity to do some testing on some pumpkins that were secured from a local pumpkin patch. Little did my wife know, she managed to purchase a few of the best varieties for quality of flesh, color, and sugar content. All of which were heirloom varieties.
These test pumpkins were oven roasted, sauted, and made into pumpkin pie, pumpkin butter, pumpkin pancakes, and pumpkin soup. It may seem a little overkill, but I wanted to see how the pumpkin flavor (not just the spices) would come through in different recipes.
In my testing, I narrowed the selection down to two pumpkin varieties… both originally French varieties. The Runner up is the Cinderella pumpkin. A somewhat segmented pumpkin with a bright orange skin, this pumpkin revealed a medium orange flesh and a great flavor when oven roasted. The caramalization of the flesh in the oven added some depth to the flavor.
My first pick is the Fairytale pumpkin. This pumpkin has a deep green skin which turns beige when the internal sugars develop (it gets ripe). The outer skin is very tough which makes it difficult to cut but also difficult for some pests to wreak havoc in the garden. Once cut, the true magic of this pumpkin is revealed.
Inside the Fairytale pumpkin is a deep orange flesh that rivals the color of any pumpkin. It is the richest looking pumpkin that I’ve seen. A small seed cavity is surrounded by flesh that in places is three inches thick. I sliced this pumpkin like a melon at the segments and roasted it in the oven for what seemed like 2-3 hours… skin side down. This one pumpkin yielded just over 10 pounds of deliciousness!
In flavor and appearance, the Fairytale pumpkin was the clear winner and yielded a fantastic pumpkin pie for the Thanksgiving table. Unfortunately, pumpkin beer starts hitting the shelves in mid-September. With the Fairytale pumpkin not ripening until mid to late October in the Kansas City area, it could be Christmas time before this ale can be available. This could pose a problem with an oversaturated pumpkin beer market, but getting the right ingredients in our products is important to us, and we think the wait will be worth it!
Our new pumpkin ale is in the fermenter. Some highlights include:
- Locally sourced, fresh, oven roasted, and soon-to-be-grown-here, Fairytale pumpkin
- A proprietary blend of fresh spices that include cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, mace, and clove
- 8.4%, 38 IBU, and a Belgian yeast strain that will add some spicy flavors and aroma
- Bottle/keg conditioned and unfiltered