Get to know the region's pumpkin beer patch

If you use the date pumpkin beers first hit the shelves – which, if you haven’t noticed, has crept up to the latter weeks in August in recent years – as an indicator of the start of pumpkin beer season, this here posting is way late in the game. But I don’t much care about that. Just because a marketing guy at a big brewery decided that releasing a seasonal beer an entire month before the season even technically begins was a good idea, it doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.

You see, I’m more of a climate-over-calendar kinda guy. And while it’s still technically summer until September 22, at least we can all agree that it’s finally feeling like fall outside. And if it’s cool enough for bonfires and sweatshirts, then dammit it’s about time to finally declare the pumpkin beer season in motion.

Pumpkin beers are an authentic American invention, dating back to the American colonial period, specifically in the New England parts. Now, centuries later, what had originally emerged as a thing of curiosity – props, by the way, to the first settlers who figured out what the heck to do with ’em – is now a seasonal phenomenon within the craft community, as brewers work hard to carve out (pun intended) new ways to tweak their recipes and up the ante on the typical pumpkin beer flavor profile.

Here in Central PA, with our more than 40 breweries and cideries, a small subset of the local craft scene is making its mark in the pumpkin beer category. While most of the brews listed here are available on draft only – and in some circumstance only at the brewery’s tasting room – a few options like Lancaster Brewing Co.’s Baked Pumpkin Ale and Tröegs’ Master of Pumpkins will see a bottled release.

So follow us on a digital hayride into Central PA’s craft pumpkin beer patch. Cheers!


RuttyBuck_v3Appalachian Brewing Co.  |  Rutty Buck Pumpkin Ale

Release: September; currently available
Available: draft

Using real pumpkin – which is then caramelized to add some extra magic to the natural sugars – ABC‘s Rutty Buck offers a nice blend of spice character and a bready nose that linger. Try it at the ABC’s Harrisburg headquarters, and look for it at one of its many brewpubs.


SpringHouse_BraaaiinsSpring House Brewing Co.  |  Braaaiins! Pumpkin Ale for Zombies

Release Date: August; currently available
Available: draft

Spring House has earned a following for its boundary-pushing flavors, and Braaaiins is no exception. Brewed with “generous amounts” of real pumpkin blended into the mash, the subtle fresh pumpkin flavor takes a turn toward pumpkin pie thanks to mild spices and sweet dough. On tap now at Spring House’s Taproom in downtown Lancaster.


LBCbakedpumpkinLancaster Brewing Co.  |  Baked Pumpkin Ale

Release: September; currently available
Available: draft; 12 oz. bottles (6-packs)

Brewmaster Bill Moore explains that fresh pumpkin and spices are added multiple times throughout the brewing process to get LBC‘s Baked Pumpkin Ale just right. This is just the second season for Baked Pumpkin Ale, and this year’s batch shows great growth.


Troegs_MasterOfPumpkinsTröegs Brewing Co.  |  Master of Pumpkins

Release: End of September/October
Available: limited draft; 4-packs and cases of 375mL cork & cage bottles

Tröegs taps its neighboring pumpkin farms to source the star ingredient of its Master of Pumpkins. Media coordinator Jeff Herb notes that this year’s batch should be set for distribution by the end of September on draft at the Tasting Room in Hershey as well as in 375mL cork & cage bottles.


BreweryHershey_FlashBrewery at Hershey  |  Flash Gourd’n pumpkin-spiced fest ale

Release: September; currently available
Available: draft

Released just a week ago, The Brewery at Hershey‘s Flash Gourd’n – in addition to having an amazing name – is unique in that it incorporates the other seasonal standout style: Oktoberfest. Though it’s an Oktoberfest base, the brew is fermented a little cooler than ale temperatures without dipping into lager territory. Pumpkin is added to the mash and then spiced liberally.


scratchysbottle2Swashbuckler Brewing Co.  |  Scratchy’s Pumpkin Wheat

Release: mid-October
Available: draft at Renaissance Faire; 22 oz. bottles at Mount Hope Wine Shop

Hear ye, hear ye! Swashbuckler brewmaster Michael Osborne expects to have this year’s batch on draft by mid-October at the PA Renaissance Fairegrounds in Manheim, with 22-ounce bombers available in the Wine Tower.


pumpkinIH.jpgIron Hill Brewery  |  Pumpkin Ale

Release: September; currently available
Available: draft

What it lacks in clever naming techniques, Iron Hill‘s Pumpkin Ale certainly makes up for in taste. Spiced with traditional pumpkin pie spices and vanilla instead of finishing hops, this brew walks the line between sweet and bitter in all the right ways.


RoyPitzRoy Pitz Brewing Company  |  Ichabod Crane’s Midnight Ride

Release: August; currently available
Available: draft

Chambersburg’s Roy Pitz Brewing Company goes a bit off the typical pumpkin brew map with its Belgian-style pumpkin ale – Ichabod Crane’s Midnight Ride. You might need to travel to the brewery to taste this one (something I’ve admittedly not yet done), but curiosity alone for this unique beer style is enough to make the drive.


Coming soon!

MC_miscreations_pumpkingMiscreation Brewing  |  Smashed PumpKing porter

Release: pending
Available: at select brewfests

Miscreation Brewing is still in the start-up phase, but the Hanover brewery has made a few appearances as of late at brewfests around the region, showcasing its robust Smashed PumpKing Porter. Keep an eye out for these guys.


What’s your favorite Central PA-based pumpkin beer?


  • Share on Tumblr
Posted in Articles, Craft Corner, Drink, Drink – Harrisburg, Drink – Lancaster, Drink – York, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Out & About, York

Mike McMonagle is a late-to-bed guy who tries daily to be an early riser. He drinks coffee, beer, whiskey and water regularly. He moonlights as a singer/songwriter by the name of Mike McMonagle. He makes photos sometimes, usually of his cat, or of puddles. Mike is the former digital editor for Fly; he left in 2015.

Close Comments

Comments (3)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *