The leaves are done changing, Halloween pumpkins are long gone and our Christmas Ale is already hitting shelves, but it’s still fall and the perfect time to enjoy one of our favorite Limited Releases, Pumpkin Ale. It’s both our most highly anticipated Limited Release and the most labor-intensive beer we brew. A truly local farm to brewhouse collaboration, this labor of love deserves a moment in the limelight with its own video dedicated to showing you how it goes from field to can to your hand!
Plus, with Thanksgiving only a few short weeks away, we thought it appropriate to feature a beer that captures the essence of the season and goes quite nicely with turkey and stuffing, too! We’re also doing our part to help you out this holiday season and remind you to stock up on beers to help ease the pain of those imminent family gatherings. So, if you haven’t already hoarded some of our Pumpkin Ale, get on it! Supply is dwindling, and Christmas Ale is ready to take center stage. Either way, grab some cold ones in preparation for the holidays, and check out how we make this fall favorite in our video (music by Rocktin Grove – our brewer Nate’s band!) and learn more on the process below:
The Pumpkin Ale Story
Inspiration for a craft brewer comes in many forms. Realizing the potential of an experimental brewing method, or the addition of a spice or vegetable or fruit, and researching and acting upon it, is the nature of today’s brewing pioneers. In this case, a collision between a Boulder farmer and brewer has resulted in something very local, popular, and downright tasty – our Pumpkin Ale!
A couple of years ago, Mike Munson, of Munson Farms located only a few miles from our brewery in Flatiron Park, approached us with an idea to create a unique beer made with his locally grown pumpkins. We’re thankful that he had the idea and happy that they grow LOTS of pumpkins. After baking a number of styles, our Founder, Matt Cutter, chose baby bear pumpkins for the recipe. This year we used about two acres worth, or 8,000 pounds!
Back in the day, we would gather the pumpkins from the field, with some major help from the folks at Munson Farms, and have staff take them home to bake ’em in their own ovens. This year, we doubled the quantity brewed and wised up – we rented a commercial kitchen and hired some special helpers to work their magic on the pumpkins, getting them processed and ready for the brewhouse. Thanks to Richard and Jane Ellen, all 8,000 lbs of our pumpkins were turned into pumpkin meat ready for our mash tun. The pumpkins had to be washed, cut in half, baked (about 400 lbs at a time), gutted (resulting in a total of about 2,500 lbs of meat), blended, and packaged in gallon sized bags to be stored for each batch.
Now for the fun part – brewing. The pumpkin comes into play right away. The processed pumpkin meat is added to the grain in the mash tun. Then the wort, the sugar water from the mash, now full of pumpkin flavor, heads to the kettle. The spent grain gets mashed out and is now ready to feed some cows at Black Cat farms. Once the wort is at a steady boil, we add our blend of six spices to fully infuse those fall aromas. Then it’s off to our fermentation tanks where we wait for the magic to happen, when Pumpkin Ale actually becomes beer.
The last, and final stop, for this brew before getting it into your hands, is our canning line. We package all of our beers in cans because it’s good for you, the beer and the environment. In the video you can see our “OG” canning line in action as it pumps out 40 cans a minute. The 16 oz cans are then hand packaged into four packs before making their way off to a store near you.
You know the rest, crack a cold one and enjoy this awesome time of year!
So, as you can see, there is no shortage of work in producing our Pumpkin Ale, but it’s a brew we love and an Upslope fall tradition. We hope you all enjoy it as much as we do making it! And don’t forget to stock up. You’ll be the envy of your family this holiday season. It may even give your Grandma’s pumpkin pie a run for its money.
Happy holidays from Upslope!