Cucurbito Pepo (Pumpkin Ale)

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The following recipe appears in the March/August 2001 issue of Zymurgy magazine and is based off of a recipe originally published in The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian.

Here is what AHA founder Charlie Papazian had to say on this pumpkin beer recipe:

“Pumpkin Ale? Now, don’t discount this one so quickly. Pumpkins were used in colonial days as an essential ingredient in many brews. With a bit of tradition and modern art you can brew something that is as American as apple pie. Cucurbito Pepo (Pumpkin) Ale is not too assuming. With a medium body, adequate bitterness, amber color, alcoholic warmth and reassuring spices, this beer will be an incredible contribution to your repertoire of accomplishments.

“The spices that lend a typical pumpkin-pie character are not overdone, but they are optional if you choose to brew a simpler version. This is the kind of brew for which you invite friends over to help with the ceremonies of brewing. Surely a Thanksgiving or holiday season toast with Cucurbito Pepo Ale will be one of the most memorable. England, Belgium and Germany, eat your hearts out.”

Cucurbito Pepo (Pumpkin Ale) | Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer


  • For 5 gallons (19 L)
    • 10 lb (4.54 kg) | American 6-row pale lager malt
    • 1 lb (0.45 kg) | 20-40°L crystal/caramel malt
    • 7-10 lb (3.2-4.5 kg) | whole pumpkin
    • 2 oz (56.8 g) | Williamette hops (boiling): 10 HBU
    • 0.5 oz (14.2 g) | Cascade hops (boiling): 2.5 HBU
    • 1 oz (28.4 g) | Mt. Hood hops (aroma)
    • 1 tsp (4 g) | ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp (4 g) | vanilla bean, chopped
    • 0.5 tsp (2 g) | freshly ground nutmeg
    • 0.25 tsp (1 g) | ground allspice
    • 0.5 tsp (2 g) | ground dried ginger
    • 0.25 oz (1 g) | powdered Irish moss
    • Ale yeast
    • 0.75 cups (178 mL) | corn sugar or 1.25 cups (296 mL) dried malt extract (for bottling)


    • Original Gravity: 1.066-1.070
    • Final Gravity: 1.016-1.022
    • IBU: 45-50
    • SRM: 6-12 (and tawny)
    • Boil Time: 75-90 minutes


    Chill some homebrew the day before so that it’s ready to enjoy on brew day. While the beer is chilling, slice the pumpkin in half and remove seeds and stringy “veins.” Roast the pumpkin in a 350°F (117°C) oven for about one hour or until soft. The roasted pulp will be used in the mash.

    Use a protein-developing step mash. Add 3 gallons (11.4 L) of 130°F (54.4°C) water to the crushed malt. Stabilize at 122°F (50°C) and hold for 30 minutes. Then add 1.5 gallons (5.7 L) of boiling water and thoroughly mashed pumpkin pulp. Add heat if necessary and stabilize at 148-152°F (64-67°C) and hold for 60 minutes. Add more heat and mash out to 165°F (74°C).

    Sparge with about 4 gallons (15.2 L) of 170°F (77°C) water. Initial extract volume may be about 7-8 gallons (26.6-30.4 L). Anticipate a long, vigorous boil and evaporation of 2-3 gallons (7.6-11.4 L).

    Add boiling hops and boil for 75 to 90 minutes or until volume of boiling wort approaches 5.5 gallons (21 L). Then add cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, vanilla and Irish moss and continue boiling 10 more minutes. Turn off heat. Add aroma hops and let steep for 2-3 minutes before straining hops and spices and chilling the wort.

    Pitch the yeast when cool. Bottle when fermentation is complete.