'Tis the season for pumpkin beer, and the Detroit Fall Beer Festival is the place to be. There's more pumpkin beer here per square foot than leaves in your yard.
Start with Shorts PUMPKINCRUSHA. Perfectly balanced, not in-your-face-spice, but just a darn good beer.
And with pumpkin spice everything abounding this time of year, it's hard not to veer into parody. But the hardworking brewers at Friday's festival at Eastern Market take their task seriously: Respect the pumpkin, and make good beer.
Tapisty, in Bridgman, didn't bring a pumpkin beer to last year's festival but decided to do it this year. For their Gordgantuan, they used 250 pounds of fresh pumpkin for a 15-barrel batch, so the pumpkin would complement but not be a focus of the beer, said brewer and co-owner Greg Korson.
"We still want it to be beer, but get the pumpkin in there," Korson said.
Over at Greenbush, their Pumpkin Ain't Easy brew was going fast.
The beer was created a year ago, a sort of accident during the brewing of a batch of the brewery's Unicorn Killer.
Cellarmaster Dave Black said he was adding ingredients and realized he was short on supplies.
"I went across the street to the market and grabbed a handful of sweet potatoes and pureed them up," he said. "It completely wasn't planned."
The result was a 10.1 ABV ale with a slightly sweeter, more precise flavor.
"This was the first year the sweet potatoes were actually planned," he said, noting that he based his process on a beer he'd had called "Sweet Yamma Jamma" from Indeed Brewing in Minneapolis. "And that's where the name -- Pumpkin Ain't Easy -- came from.
"Well, that, and the Prince song," Black said.
Unruly Brewing of Muskegon brought their Punk N' Rock beer. It uses 100 pounds of fresh pumpkin for a 5-barrel batch, and adds ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg to round out the fall flavors.
"Some are so over the top with spice, but pumpkin doesn't have a lot of flavor so you need it," said Trevor Torres, sales manager and event coordinator for the nearly 2-year-old brewery. "We wanted it to be balanced so it would really pop."
More about the Fall Beer Festival here.
Among other pumpkin beers available at the Fall Beer Festival -- we haven't gotten to all of them yet, but the night is young:
-- Canton Brew Works: First and Last Pumpkin Saison
-- Great Baraboo: The Great Boo Pumpkin Ale
-- Motor City Brewing: Headless Horseman Pumpkin Ale
-- Saugatuck Brewing: Pumpkin chai
-- North Center Brewing: Headless Horseman Pumpkin Ale
-- Woodward Avenue Brewers: Gourdzilla! Pumpkin IPA
-- Witch's Hat: Pumpkin Porter
-- C.J.'s Brewing: Pumpkin Saison
-- Chelsea Alehouse: Lost Lenore Pumpkin Ale
-- Black Lotus: Gourdy How pumpkin ale
-- Eternity: Pumpkin Muffin
-- Griffin Claw: Bourbon Imperial Pumpkin
-- Grizzly Peak: Kewvenklop
-- Jolly Pumpkin: La Parcela
-- North Peak: Hooligan hoppy pumpkin ale
... And way too many more to list. Check out the beer festival list here.