I’ll give you a quick and easy way to tell if your favorite pumpkin beer was made with fresh pumpkins or the canned version.
It takes weeks to brew a beer, and pumpkins reach full maturity, ready to harvest and roast for brewing, sometimes around late August. Making those beers released in July nearly impossible to brew with fresh pumpkins.
Canned pumpkin isn’t even the issue. Several breweries successfully make very complex, well-balanced beer with canned pumpkin every year. The issue is more about the impact that the early release dates have on breweries that want to use fresh. The arc of pumpkin season starts so soon, due to the canned-pumpkin beers, that by the time the fresh-pumpkin-using-breweries releases their beer, the moment has passed when it really should just be starting. A fresh brewed pumpkin beer will arrive on store shelves, at earliest, in mid-September. A much more appropriate time for a pumpkin flavored beer to be consumed. Unfortunately, at this point pumpkin beer coverage has been going on for months, making the release of fresh pumpkin beers seem like old news.
Pumpkin beer also ages well. For this I used a bottle of Rogue Pumpkin Patch ale from last year, made with pumpkins they grow on their farms, and it was even better this year than last. The flavors round out and have a deeper, more complex flavor. You can save this years pumpkin beers for next year, if you really jones for a mid-summer squash ales.
Maybe this doesn’t bother you, maybe you don’t mind a 100 degree, mid-July pumpkin porter. Or maybe you hate it. What can you do if this does, in fact, bother you? Make a bigger deal out of fresh brewed pumpkin beer, don’t buy any before middle September, don’t post anything on social until fresh pumpkin beers have been released, and thank the hard working brewers that not only brewed you a pumpkin beer, they also grew, harvested and roasted those pumpkins.
- 3 cups (360) all purpose flour
- 1 tsp (4g) baking powder
- 2 tsp (12g) baking soda
- 1 cup (150g) brown sugar
- 2 ½ tsp (4g) pumpkin pie spice (see note)
- ¾ cup (225g) pumpkin puree
- 8 ounces (226g) pumpkin ale (or brown ale)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp vanilla extact
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- Maple syrup for serving
- 1/2 cup pecan pieces (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and sugar. Add the pumpkin puree and beer, stir until just combined.
- Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour that batter into the pan in an even layer.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely before slicing, chill if necessary (beer bread can be made a day ahead of time, cover and chill until ready to use).
- Slice into 1-inch thick slices.
- In a wide, shallow bowl whisk together the milk, eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, brown sugar and salt.
- Add the slices, a few at a time, allowing to soak for one to three minutes.
- Preheat a skillet or griddle to medium high; melt a pat of butter to coat the surface (continue adding butter between batches when the pan looks dry).
- Remove the slices from the batter and allow excess to drain off.
- Cook in the hot pan until golden brown on each side, about 3 minutes per side.
- Serve topped with maple syrup and pecan pieces.
Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice: 2 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, ½ teaspoon ground allspice, ½ teaspoon ground ginger