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Beer Town: Pumpkin Wars

Beer Town: Pumpkin Wars

The Best Places to Get Your Pumpkin Fix

By Ty Bannerman

In an American autumn, there’s one tradition that’s as much a part of the season as Halloween and Thanksgiving: The love/hate debate over pumpkin-spiced beverages.

This cultural battle usually rages over the ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte – but its close cousin, the pumpkin beer, has lately been dragged into the crossfire.

Like so many divisive issues that bedevil American culture, we can blame the pilgrim colonists for kicking this one off. According to historian Mary Miley Theobald of the Colonial Williamsburg Association, those intrepid puritans were hard-up for alcohol and, lacking the requisite barley, turned to other locally available fermentables in their quest to get their drink on.

Of course, since the pilgrims were replacing barley with pumpkin, their concoction was undoubtedly a far cry from the beer we find on our shelves today. The modern pumpkin ale, which burst onto the scene in the 1980s, is a more typical beer that uses malted barley for most of its fermentable sugars.

As a result, the pumpkin is a flavor added along with pie spices like cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Some breweries don’t even bother including the gourd at all, preferring to go heavy on the distinctive spices rather than the subtle flavor contribution of the pumpkin.

This has already been a rough year in terms of American infighting. Do we really have to have a Trump/Clinton-style throw-down over a beer as American as pumpkin pie? Here’s my suggestion for unity during this, the most beautiful of all seasons: Whether you are a pumpkin lover or a hater, invite your gourdish opposite to join you at one of the local breweries listed below.

Order a pumpkin beer if you like, or one of the other varieties on tap. After the first sip, take the hand of your comrade and look deep into their eyes. Whisper “Kumbaya” and let the glow of beer-unity warm your hearts as the chill autumn wind kicks in.

Get your pumpkin on (or not) at any of the below listed breweries:

Boxing Bear

Pumpkin Oso


Pumpkin ale

Pumpkin Noir


Chocolate pumpkin stout

Boese Brothers

Ichabod’s revenge


Pumpkin spice ale

Firkin Brewery

Pumpkin Stout

Starr Brothers

Jack tooth


Jack the Sipper

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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