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Thursday, October 13th 2011

Canned Pumpkin! The Rather Short History of Pumpkin Ales in Cans

Beers have been brewed with pumpkin in North America since the first Europeans decided to get off their boats and stick around for a bit. It was an easy source of fermentable sugar and was frequently accompanied in the boil by spruce tips instead of hops. Today's pumpkin ales may not exactly resemble those from our brewing past, we've got plenty of malted barley and hops now, but they're still a very important part of American and Canadian beer culture. 

The first brewery to commercially brew a pumpkin ale was Buffalo Bill's Brewery in Hayward, California. Their Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale, still available today, was released back in 1985. Since then the market has been inundated by Pumpkin Ales, Pumpkin Porters, Pumpkin Stouts, Imperial Pumpkin Ales, Barrel-Aged Imperial Pumpkin Ales, Pumpkin Ciders and everything in between. However, it wasn't until almost twenty-five years later that the first pumpkin ale appeared in a can!


Central City's Red Racer Pumpkin Ale (2009)

In the fall of 2009, the world's first canned pumpkin ale came off the canning lines at Central City Brewing Company in Surrey, British Columbia. Red Racer Pumpkin Ale, with it's familiar "girl on a bicycle" branding on the can, is a 5% subtly spiced amber ale. The award winning Canadian craft brewery describes their pumpkin ale as:

"Crafted with pumpkin and choice spices, this ale is rich, creamy and contains a subtle pumpkin pie flavour. Enjoy this as a great pairing with any holiday feast."

Central City currently distributes their Red Racer Pale Ale, Red Racer India Pale Ale and Red Racer Lager in the US, but have yet to send any of their Red Racer Pumpkin Ale south of the border. The brewery is however currently expanding so we may see cans of this on American shelves sometime in the not too distant future.

 


Wild Onion's Pumpkin Ale (2010)

Fast forward about a year, and a full twenty-five years after the first pumpkin ale was bottled commercially, and we have the first American canned pumpkin ale. Wild Onion Pub & Brewery in Lake Barrington, Illinois gets that credit with the release of their Wild Onion Pumpkin Ale and it's attention grabbing aluminum packaging - designed by graphic artist Tim Hooker. 

Five hundred cases of this creamy, dark amber, and altogether well-spiced brew hit the shelves in 2010 and it wasn't long before they were all gone. The brewery has made this a seasonal release and is one of five brews they're currently canning.

 


Sixpoint's Autumnation (2011)

Late last month we had the release of another canned American pumpkin ale, this time from Sixpoint Craft Ales out of Brooklyn, New York. Autumnation was not only the brewery's first canned seasonal offering but also something altogether unique in the craft beer world. Sixpoint describes the beer as:

"Autumn ushers in an annual rebirth with a full harvest, longer nights, and in many cases, a new wardrobe. We’re celebrating the bounty of the season with a new beer that’s coming out in cans this week — Autumnation. Brewed with pumpkin, ginger and white pepper, and wet-hopped with just-harvested Citra hops from the oldest continually farmed hop farm in the country, it’s a burst of fresh, seasonal spices trapped in a 16-ounce. can."

Sixpoint's rather bold move to capture both the hop harvesting season as well as that of pumpkins left some beer lovers scratching their heads. One whiff of this reddish-auburn hued ale will have you thinking IPA while that first sip will give you lots of oily, resiny hop flavors along with subtle spice and earthy pumpkin notes. Let it warm a tad and you'll be presented with something aromatic and delicious. Definitely one of a kind and definitely amazing.

So, what will 2012 bring us as far as pumpkin ales are concerned? We'll have to wait and see. Perhaps we'll see a few more canning breweries jump on board with seasonal pumpkin offerings. Cheers!



Pumpkin Scale:
(See All Rated)
Posted by Russ


Labels: Pumpkin Ales