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Perfect Pairings: Pumpkin Pie

By Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl
Created January 10, 2017
Thanksgiving’s classic dishes meet their ideal drink match.

What to pair with pumpkin pie? Well, coffee, duh! Coffee and pumpkin pie, and a tiny slice of apple, and an even teeny-tinier slice of French silk. That’s what goes with pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. 

Unless, that is, you’re in the mood to get all cutting-edge, 2012 foodie. If you want to do that, well, by all means, get some pumpkin ale. It’s the hottest thing. Do they contain actual pumpkins? Sometimes. 

Back in the dawn of American history, pumpkins, a native plant, were actually easier to come by than malted barley, the usual primary ingredient in beer, and so beer was frequently made from baked or otherwise cooked pumpkins. Modern brewers have taken up that tradition, sometimes throwing actual chunked-up pumpkins into the brew tank, sometimes using only the traditional pumpkin-pie spices to give that hint of pumpkin. 

There are literally hundreds of pumpkin ales around every fall, especially in New England, and guess what? They go beautifully with pumpkin pie—and pretty darn well with a slice of apple pie too. A few to try: 

Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Southern Tier Brewing Co. 

Pumpkin ale that still tastes like a real craft beer, Pumking has a nice hoppy spine of strength supporting the various allspice, cinnamon and vanilla-cookie notes, and the finish is clean and not at all pumpkin-pie-candle. This beer has the best of both worlds: it’s a very good beer, with good pumpkin-pie flavor. 

Punk’N Harvest Pumpkin Ale, Uinta Brewing Co.

Salt Lake City’s Uinta Brewing Co. makes two remarkable pumpkin beers, the really squashy (in a good way!) and vanilla-tinged Punk’N, and the darker, velvety Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale. Which goes better with pumpkin pie and which with pumpkin cheesecake? These are the hard decisions. 

Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale, Coors Brewing Co. 

Light and crisp, with lots of pumpkin-pie scents, this is easy to find nationwide and a perfect pumpkin ale to serve to a crowd. You’ll get a lot of “Gee-whiz, really?” surprise reactions; even the non beer drinkers seem to enjoy one tremendously.