Pumpkin Beer – A treat from a trick!

September 14, 2023

The season is nearly upon us, that spooky time of year when the days get short and the nights grow longer. The time of year when the air turns cool and the American palate turns to all things Pumpkin!

Pumpkin: The Golden Gourd
There is no shortage of pumpkin flavored treats in the American market, from coffee to candy to breads and beers, Pumpkin is king! Each and every year they seem to appear earlier and earlier and spread to new products and markets.

So much so, that over the past year the Pumpkin Spice market for all varieties of Pumpkin tasting treats is

Estimated at
million (NielsonIQ)
This is up
over last year's numbers

The fact is Americans love fall, Halloween, and Pumpkin Spice. One of the most popular products is a surprising one…Pumpkin beer. Pumpkin Beer and other seasonals make up between 15% to 25% of the $14 billion craft beer market (The Street). That is between $2.1 billion to $3.5 for the annual Pumpkin treat. Showing that Pumpkin Beer is performing even higher when compared to other pumpkin products. It may seem like an unlikely pairing that popped up on shelves in the last decade, but it actually has a long history in America and shouldn’t be overlooked in your flavor portfolio!


A little history or it’s the Great Pumpkin!
Pumpkin beer has been with us since the early days of the American colony. In the 17th century European colonists found that growing the produce and grains they were accustomed to was much more challenging in the New World. With a shortage of many grains and other staples, the colonists turned to one native food that grew rapidly and easily in Northeastern gardens, the humble pumpkin. They used it in everything from oatmeal to soup to bread to toasted seeds, pies, and of course beer. So prevalent was the orange gourd, that it was actually joked about being the only thing they ever ate. (History likes to repeat itself, I suppose.)

Fast forward to 1985, and Bill Owens of Buffalo Bill’s Brewery, when Bill found an old recipe from none other than George Washington for a pumpkin beer. Bill felt that the time was right to experiment and bring back this historical brew, which he did by adding pumpkin to amber ale as a fall seasonal.

"Slowly, but surely the beer began to get attention and soon breweries all over the country began making their own versions. Now there are over 1800 different pumpkin beers from the macro to micro breweries and they have developed a ravening fan base!"

Pumpkin Beer or Pumpkin spice? Twice as nice.
Now no brewer should be without a pumpkin beer for the Autumnal season. The market is huge and demands their pumpkin delights. However, there is some room for variation in the pumpkin beer market. Some go for a subtle pumpkin flavor by either adding real pumpkins to their brews or using pumpkin flavoring to add that rich, earthy, sweetish flavor. This is the direction that Buffalo Bill’s uses and typically adds the flavor to an existing ale.


To take things to the next level and satisfy the American appetite, Pumpkin Spice takes things a bit further. Pumpkin spice includes the base of pumpkin flavor, but then adds nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon among some other ingredients, to make a beer that drinks like a pumpkin pie in a glass. No matter which way you go, pumpkin spice and/or pumpkin is a crowd pleaser that has grown over the last decade and cannot be ignored.

From the earliest days of America, Pumpkin has played an important part. In our stories, (Remember old Ichabod Crane) to our coffees (Gotta have that PSL), Pumpkin is the king of fall! Don’t let the season pass you by, enjoy some pumpkin beer today or make sure to add pumpkin to your portfolio this autumn!