When you were a kid in grade school, there was nothing better than the last day of school. With an entire summer of pools and sleepovers and diving boards ahead, you left the schoolbooks behind for a seemingly endless adventure of fun and freedom. And then there was always that one day that came to soon. The day your mom took you on an errands run, and you walked into a department store littered with “Back to School” signs. Your heart always sank to the floor as the clear indication of summer’s end stared you in your face. Pencils, notebooks, backpacks—all lined up like an enemy troop. If you were lucky, your mom was in a rush and walked by the dreadful displays without forcing you to try on backpacks. You could push it out of your mind for just a few more weeks. But either way, you knew the end was near.


Now that we’re adults, the sign of summer’s end is much less intimidating. It’s the day that you find the grocery store shelves stocked with pumpkin beer.  Although you may momentarily lament the fact that you only went to the beach one and half times, or curse the fact that you haven’t been tan since college spring break, you are soon appeased when you think of the spicy cinnamon taste of your favorite pumpkin ale.


My personal favorite, Shipyard Pumpkinhead, is already stocked up in my local grocery store. As I sipped the autumn masterpiece and forgot that it was 85 degrees outside, I wondered how pumpkin beer was made. Did they use real pumpkin, or pumpkin flavoring? Turns out, most brew their beer with real, bona fide pumpkins in the mix! Interestingly enough, my own favorite is one that doesn’t use actual pumpkin, but instead uses pumpkin pie spices.


We researched some other popular brews to find out whether or not they use real pumpkins, and what else they add to give it that fall flavor:


Dogfishhead Punkin Ale: Brewed with pumpkin, brown sugar and spices.


Southern Tier Pumpking: Made with 2-row malt, caramel malt, puréed pumpkin, and magnum and sterling hops


Shipyard Pumpkinhead: A wheat beer flavored with pumpkin pie spices


Wild Goose Pumpkin Patch Ale: Slow-brewed with 9 special malts, hops, nearly 300lbs of pumpkin, and a secret blend of spices.


Ichabod Ale: Malted barley and pumpkin combined with cinnamon and nutmeg.


Schlafly Pumpkin Ale: Made with both pumpkin and butternut, squash and spiced with clove, cinnamon and nutmeg.


We even found an article on SloshSpot about brewing your own beer inside a pumpkin!  Now that is festive.


So, once you’ve accepted the fact that summer is nearly over and moved on, tell us, what’s your favorite pumpkin ale? And all you home-brewers out there—have you ever tried brewing from a real pumpkin? Send us some photo evidence and we’ll send you some DIA swag!


photo Originally posted: 9/6