Not so pum-king: Chicago breweries not jumping on pumpkin beer bandwagon

Pumpking is arguably the most well-known pumpkin beer. (Seth Anderson | Flickr/Creative Commons)
Pumking is arguably the most well-known pumpkin beer. (Seth Anderson | Flickr/Creative Commons)

Fall in the beer world means two things – Oktoberfest and pumpkin beers. However, in Chicago, only one of those seems to be true.

If you take a look at three of the popular Chicago breweries, Lagunitas Brewing Co., Goose Island Beer Co. and Half Acre Beer Co., you’ll notice one thing missing – pumpkin beers.

While some breweries make pumpkin beers the focal point of their fall brewing like New York-based Southern Tier Brewing Co. and their Pumking, arguably the most well-known pumpkin beer, the majority of Chicago breweries would rather stay away from the recent fad.

Half Acre doesn’t brew pumpkin beers simply because they prefer to do others this time of year.

“We brew our wet-hopped beer…our Lager Town Oktoberfest every year and we start learning more towards porters and stouts,” Half Acre Beer Co. Media Coordinator Meredith Anderson said. “It’s just not in our taste profile that we’re interested in and we have other stuff we do instead…we also don’t brew any beers that have additives, like spices, so that would be very out of our channel.”

Over at Lagunitas, they don’t brew a pumpkin beer or an Oktoberfest, because it’s not their style.

“We don’t do any beers using flavors like that,” Lagunitas Brewing Co.Regional Marketing Manager Karen Hamilton said.

Even at Goose Island, their Oktoberfest is popular this time of year, so they prefer to stick with what they do best.

“As a team, we have decided to make more traditional style of beers for the fall season,” Goose Island Beer Co. Brewmaster Brett Porter said.

Rather than introducing a new style of beer, such as pumpkin, Porter and Goose Island would rather make their current product better each year.

“That is why we have continued to brew and improve our Oktoberfest recipe, which has a toffee and burnt sugar aroma,” Porter said.

While pumpkin beers haven’t taken off in the popular Chicago breweries, they all concede it’s great for the beer community.

“The pumpkin beer phenomenon is quite interesting,” Porter said. “I think beer fans have gravitated towards pumpkin beers over the last few years because it’s a different style of beer to consume during the fall season.”

“Every year when Pumking comes out, people freak out,” Anderson said. “It’s great for people who look forward to that every year. It’s a beer that’s great for people who don’t love beer all the time and great for people that like pumpkin pie.”

All hope is not lost, though! If you really want your local pumpkin beer thirst quenched, Spiteful Brewing releases their Jackass O’ Lantern Pumpkin Ale annually and Empirical Brewery has a Paradigm Shift Pumpkin Harvest Ale in the works.