Tuesday, October 19th 2010
America's First Canned Pumpkin Ale
The Wild Onion Brewing Company has just taken to canning some of their beers this past year. In that short period of time, however, they've managed to do something no other brewery in this country has yet to do, they've canned a pumpkin ale!
I was pretty excited when I first heard from brewery co-owner, Mike Kainz, that their Pumpkin Ale was to be canned. Mike was generous enough to send some samples our way and to answer some questions we had about this unique beer. Cheers!
(CC) Can you give us a little background on this beer?
(MK) We have been brewing our version of a Pumpkin Ale for quite some time now-starting in 1997 in 12 oz. bottles in the Chicago and Milwaukee markets.
In 2003, we moved down the street from our original brewery and warehouse into our current brewpub location. From 2003-2009, we brewed it for draught at our pub and a few select bars. The recipe follows a long R & D process starting on our pilot brewery in my parent's garage in the early '90's. Fortunately for my brothers and I, my parents were willing to park outside the garage for many months while we brewed with varying amounts of pumpkin, malt, hops, and spices. We learned early on that too much pumpkin actually translated to too much alcohol, and didn't necessarily make for a balanced brew.
We add spices in the whirlpool, and also "dry spice" it while conditioning. The exact amount of pumpkin remains under lock and key, right alongside the KFC and Coke recipes (hah!)
(CC) When did you decide to can it? Did you know that it would be the first pumpkin beer canned in the US?
(MK) We decided to can it at the end of the summer, after having a great response at some late-summer beer festivals. Although a little late in release (compared to other fall seasonals), we felt it was worth pushing hard to get it on the shelves in Northern Illinois and Milwaukee this season. We installed our new canning line earlier this year, and had spent the spring and summer establishing our flagship brand, Paddy Pale Ale. We didn't know it would be the first Pumpkin Ale canned in the U.S.-had we known that, I think we would have started a lot earlier in preparation.
The challenge for a small-scale brewery like ours is that the minimum order for a can run on any new style is about 80,000 cans, so you have to have room for all those pallets. We'll end up producing around 500 cases this season, but will be geared up for a much larger release next year.
(CC) Who is responsible for the art on the can?
(MK) The art on the can was done by our longtime graphic artist and friend, Tim Hooker. He has done all of our artwork since we started brewing in 1997, and I think he really nailed it on this design. The vibrant orange really seems to grab people's attention, which is certainly something you want to do in today's very competitive craft beer market (especially Chicago).
(CC) What has been the initial response to this beer in cans?
(MK) Demand has been far greater than expected, and we find ourselves scrambling to brew and package enough Pumpkin Ale to keep up!
(CC) Will this be an annual canned release?
(MK) This will definitely be an annual release for us, and I'm already looking forward to shipping far beyond the Chicago market next year. Hopefully our entrance into the New England market this season is a positive sign of things to come.
If you get the chance be sure to grab some of these cans before they are all gone! For more information please check out The Wild Onion Brewing Company site.
Posted by Russ
Labels: Canned Q and As