Often part of a brewery’s fall lineup, Pumpkin Ales range from rich brown brews to something resembling liquid pumpkin pie. Breweries fall along a spectrum of how true they are to the description “pumpkin,” with some cutting pumpkins by hand to add them to the mash, some using a puree, and others resorting to adding imitation pumpkin flavoring. A hard-core brewer going for a deeper, more complex taste may even roast the pumpkin before adding it to the mash. Pumpkin beers tend to be spiced with ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and of course cinnamon. The combination of the gourd and spices result in a mild beer with balanced malts.

The pumpkin beer is particularly relevant here in New England, as we have the Pilgrims to thank for the fall tradition. Short on grains and most other food products, the starving Pilgrims relied heavily on the pumpkin after the Indians introduced it to them. To make the beer, they fermented the pumpkin with a combination of persimmons, hops and maple sugar.

I’ve listed below some popular local pumpkin beers, courtesy of the Boston Examiner. Next time you are at Venture Cafe, tell us which one is your favorite!
1) Shipyard Pumpkinhead
2) Cape Ann Pumpkin Stout
3) Post Road Pumpkin Ale, by Brooklyn Brewery
4) Southern Tier Imperial Pumpking
5) Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin
6) Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale
7) Stone Cat Pumpkin Ale
8) Dogfish Head Punkin
9) Cisco Pumple Drumkin Spiced Ale
10) Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

(For more information on these beers, please see http://www.examiner.com/craft-beer-in-boston/top-10-pumpkin-beers-available-new-england)