Rob McFerren: Pumpkin beer season gets closer

Craft breweries are all over California.

It’s hard to believe that we are already in September, but as fall approaches and we head into October and November, a growing selection of pumpkin beers will start appearing at your local breweries and on retail shelves.

Every year, more and more breweries are producing some type of pumpkin beer and the range of styles that pumpkin is added to is also increasing. Pumpkin beers, as a style, have a love-hate spot in the craft beer world, but this fall seasonal still has plenty of fans.

Pumpkin craft beers fall into a few different categories — one has actual pumpkin along with spices, and the other has pumpkin or squash added but without any spices at all. Sometimes, “pumpkin beers” use only pumpkin pie spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, but the best versions – in my opinion – will have real pumpkin in the recipe. These variations can be brewed with any “base” style of beer, from light in color to dark-style beers.

Pumpkin can be added in many different forms and different varieties of pumpkin, squash or sweet potatoes can be used to create the fall flavor profile. Most craft breweries use real pumpkin and will roast it to give a sweeter, richer pumpkin flavor.

There are many different stages at which the pumpkin can be added during the brewing process, and each brewer will use their creativity to get that authentic pumpkin pie flavor.

Brewers will also add their own secret spice blend to their pumpkin brews to get that fall flavor profile. Some of the more popular spices used by brewers are cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves, and any combination of these.

The fun part is that brewers use their creativity to blend these fall flavors with different flavor profiles of the base style of beer they have chosen. It’s interesting to see how the “pumpkin pie” flavors meld with the different malt flavors and yeast notes that are present in the beer.

So, give some of these many craft-brewed pumpkin beers a try and experience the wonderful flavors of fall.

Life’s short. Drink craft.

Rob McFerren is the owner of Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Co.

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