There are very few beer styles that are editorialized within the industry as much as pumpkin beers. Arguably the most hyped seasonal beer style, pumpkin beers are met with resounding celebration by some and with eye-rolling disdain by others. Well, here at The Brew Gentlemen Beer Co., we love them.
Aside from being a staple of my favorite time of the year, pumpkin beers hold a special place in my heart. One of the first recipes that I ever formulated on my own was a pumpkin brown ale – I was working for Anheuser Busch and was new to homebrewing, the brewmaster told me I should bring in a few of my beers for sensory sometime, and I decided that this would be my debut. I brought a few other beers with me, “they aren’t terrible” was the most common review, but the pumpkin beer stole the show. Upon their first sip, the room was awash with compliments on the roasty and caramel notes that make one nostalgic for fall and pumpkin pie. This was one of my first big confidence-building moments as a brewer, eventually leading to my desire to build a professional beer portfolio. I’ve loved the style dearly ever since.
I’ve dabbled in a few other pumpkin experiments over the years, but for the brewery’s first pumpkin beer season, I wanted to do something really special. So rather than settle on one… we’re brewing three. And going a step further, to bring in the camaraderie that accentuates that experience, we’re working with three other businesses to make all three of these pumpkin beers part of our BGx Collaboration Series. Here’s the lineup:
1.) Brew Gentlemen x Grist House: Noob Gains
Pumpkin Imperial Stout
In talking to Kyle Mientkiewicz (co-owner and brewer at Grist House), we agreed that we wanted to do something that combined both of our strengths in brewing, but also challenged us to step it up a notch. Noob Gains refers to the rapid growth a beginner experiences when they begin weightlifting – given how fast both of our companies have grown since we both opened in May, this made sense.
The beer is meant to elicit similar feelings to those of a new weightlifter: sensory overload, excessive consumption, and the feeling that you’re a bit drained by the end of it. The base beer incorporates smooth but powerful roasted notes, along with flavors of nutty chocolate, caramel and toffee. The addition of 600 lbs of pumpkin and 15 lbs of spices amp this beer up with a huge mouthfeel and spicy aroma of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg.
2.) Brew Gentlemen x Square Café: Square Breakfast
Pumpkin Walnut Pancake Wheat
I love Square Café. I eat breakfast there every Sunday, and I had the opportunity to speak with Sherry, the owner, one morning about eventually doing a collaboration. She instantly suggested a beer based on the Pumpkin Pancakes, and I couldn’t have agreed more. This beer is brewed with Square’s own pancake batter and Pennsylvania maple syrup. Don’t worry though, it’s still beer.
In my opinion, the best pancakes are light and fluffy, with a palate of complex and nuanced flavors. I want this beer to reflect those qualities, so we started with a wheat beer base to provide the warmth of baked bread that would not overpower the rest of the beer. The addition of 50 lbs of pancake batter gives this ale the unmistakeable flavor of a fresh pancake, while walnuts, cinnamon, pumpkin spice and maple syrup add layers of flavor that become more evident with every sip.
3.) Brew Gentlemen x Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches: Spice Cream Sammich
I had it in mind to recreate this Belgian Pumpkin ale that I did a few years back, followed by the idea to turn that into an ice cream sandwich. So we reached out to the local experts on that matter, our friends at Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches, and decided that a Pumpkin Tripel ice cream sandwich seemed both feasible and delicious.
The inspiration for this beer stems from my love of Belgian ales, whose powerful spicy clove phenolics beg to be incorporated into fall treats. The base for this tripel incorporates the classic graham cracker notes of the style, with hints of spicy rye and slight caramel sweetness. Belgian candi sugar adds the characteristic oven-caramelized flavor, and fresh pumpkin adds a rich, creamy mouthfeel. Vanilla and pumpkin spice combine with phenols created through fermentation, to add a unique twist.
We have a lot of fun coming up with ideas like these, and working with others and allowing their expertise to shine through only enhances the experience. For instance, if you’re unsure how much spice to add to a pumpkin pancake beer, ask how much spice would be in 1,760 pancakes and go from there. When you get an opportunity to share something like this, it makes the end result not only delicious, but much more special than the sum of its parts.
Here’s to fall, friends and pumpkins.