Pumpkin everything, especially craft beer, is all the rage this time of year, but why is that? Let’s crack a cold one and cozy up to some Halloween history.
The pumpkin’s role in Halloween actually began in the mid-1800s as Irish and Scottish immigrants began to come to America in earnest. With them they brought their Celtic and Druid traditions of Samhain, the festival of the fall harvest. One such tradition was carving turnips into scary faces and placing candles inside to act as a lantern to guide travelers while also scaring off the evil spirits from their homes and crops. With pumpkins being native to North America and easier to carve than turnips, they took over as the preferred Jack O’ Lantern.
That origin also comes from Ireland. The legend of “Stingy Jack” told of a man who invites the devil to drink with him but doesn’t want to pay, so he convinces the devil to turn himself into a coin in exchange for his soul. Ol’ Scratch, apparently not the great deceiver he’s made out to be, is tricked when Jack instead pockets the coin next to a silver cross so he can’t turn back. Jack agrees to let him go if the devil promises to leave him be for a year. 365 days go by and the devil returns and in a “fool me twice, shame on me” moment is again tricked by Jack to climb a tall tree to pick him some fruit. This time, Jack carves a cross into the bark and won’t let Lucie back down unless he promised 10 years of peace.
The big man upstairs didn’t like this selfish deceit and the devil was still nursing hurt feelings, so when Jack died he was given a piece of glowing coal to light his way through limbo. He placed it into a carved, wait for it, turnip as a lantern and still wanders purgatory to this day.
Two origins for the price of one! Now, how’s about a beer with creepy imagery and fits two styles apropos to the season? Märzen is a Bock beer traditionally enjoyed in the chilly fall; its rich malt providing a warming, satisfying quality. Turn it into a pumpkin and you’ve got two beers for the price of one!
Aviator Pumpkinbeast offers a pretty garnet/burnt umber glow with a nice, dense, bubbly head. Comforting scents of caramel and pie spice provide notes of cinnamon, praline, nutmeg and honey wheat bread. Real pumpkin and sweet malt combine for flavors of toast, pie spices, vanilla and roasted nuts with a faint, Noble hop bitterness and a long and memorable finish.
Even Stingy Jack might feel compelled to spring for the next round of Aviator Pumpkinbeast as it perfectly embodies everything that is fall beer.