The fall season is upon us, and lots of brewers are curious about how they can add a pumpkin flavor to their beer. Today we will tell you all about how to achieve that and what potential “mistakes” to avoid.

Like adding most “extras” how you add it depends a lot on what you want your “final” product to taste like.

As is true with most fruit additions, pumpkin puree can be added either during your boil or during fermentation. But pumpkin has another area it can be added and that is in your grain steep, which we will talk more about in a moment.

First things first:

What form of pumpkin is best to add to beer?

Canned pumpkin puree is typically the easiest and most convenient way to add pumpkin to your brew, as it is already pasteurized and ready to use. But make sure you use puree and NOT pumpkin pie filling. Pre-made filling can contain ingredients that would be undesirable in your brewing process. Pumpkin pie filling is also typically “pre-spiced” which prevents you from adjusting the level of spice or lack of spice that you desire.

Should I cook the pumpkin puree before adding it?

Typically, yes, it is a good idea to “caramelize” pumpkin puree before adding it to your brew, even if that just means a quick “cook” in your brew pot at the beginning of your brewing process. Doing this helps to caramelize the sugars within the pumpkin and helps it to taste less raw “squash-like” and more like the pumpkin flavor we are most familiar with in a pie. Yum.

How much Pumpkin can I add for a 2-gallon batch?

In most cases, the max for this yield should not exceed 15 ounces of pumpkin puree.

When should I add my pumpkin?

Pumpkin can be added to your brew in 3, primary ways. The first way is in your boil, for this method, the pumpkin is typically added in the final 5 minutes of your wort boil. The second option is adding cooled, caramelized puree to your beer midway through fermentation just like you might with other fruit additions, this method will preserve the MOST pumpkin flavor by adding it this way. The third method for adding pumpkin is to add it to your grain steeping water. This may sound odd, but it actually has some great benefits for your yeast! Because pumpkin contains a fruit enzyme called “Protease”, a powerful protein cleaver, adding this enzyme to your grain steep helps to free up the nitrogen locked up within your grains and releases them from the protein, making them more available for your yeast. Yeast love free nitrogen and they will show you through a vigorous and healthy fermentation.

How much “spice” should I add to my pumpkin puree?

This depends largely on your personal preference, but a good starting range is typically 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, more can be added if desired but typically 1 tablespoon is the general maximum for a Mr. Beer sized batch. If you are creating your own spice blend, start with half a teaspoon of each powdered spice component.

Can I use fresh pumpkin puree?

Yes, fresh pumpkin puree can be used, but if you desire to add it during fermentation, you will want to cook it enough to kill off any infectious pathogens. This is easily done through the Caramelization process.