NEW YORK CITY (SBG) — In the debate about whether or not pumpkin beer has any merit outside of its reputation as a seasonal fad, I fall firmly on the side of loving it. I've been drinking pumpkin beer since I was lucky enough to find it at a brewery in April this year, a fact that may offend those who believe that the best way to enjoy a pumpkin beer is by throwing it in the trash. But whether or not you're the type of person to seek out liquid pumpkin pie as soon as it hits the shelves, the polarizing style is undeniably a ubiquitous part of the fall season.
You may not be exploring its full autumnal potential, however, if you're simply sipping your pumpkin beer straight from the bottle. To truly show your support for the fall favorite, you need to pour it out of a pumpkin keg.
At Loreley Beer Garden in New York City, pumpkin kegs have been on the menu every October since 2016.
The hollowed-out pumpkins, available from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31 this year, are served straight to your table for you to serve yourself at your own pace. They come in two different sizes, 60 ounces and 120 ounces; you can easily share the smaller size with just one or two other people, while the larger option is ideal for groups. And though it's certainly the most appropriate choice, you're actually not limited to pumpkin beer in your pumpkin keg — any of the draft beers on Loreley's menu are fair game. But if you do want to stay super seasonal, Southern Tier's Pumking Imperial Ale is the perfect pick.
"We love the fall and Halloween and everything in-between. We love pumpkin beer, and we were looking for a way to put our own spin on it," said general manager Doug Jacobson of how the idea originated.
It's clear that plenty of Loreley's customers also love the fall and Halloween and everything in-between, because the demand for the unique kegs has been consistently high since the idea's inception. There's no better way to drink pumpkin beer, and there's no better place to do it on a patio decorated for the season in the most over-the-top and Instagrammable way. On a Tuesday night earlier this month, every table in the outdoor beer garden was full, and almost every party had a pumpkin keg. In 2019, Loreley Beer Garden sold 550 pumpkins, which equates to 38 full-size kegs and nearly 2000 liters of beer.
Can't make it to Loreley Beer Garden by the end of the month? It's possible to recreate some of the magic at home, even if your backyard doesn't have a huge wall of fall foliage and dozens of spooky Halloween decorations dangling from above. All you need is a sufficiently sized pumpkin, a carving tool, a tap, and beer, and before you know it, you'll have a pumpkin keg of your own.
"Start by picking a beautiful pumpkin, and make sure it's watertight," said Jacobson. "Make sure you scoop out the inside really well; otherwise, your tap will clog." Then, trace a circle around the spigot near the bottom of your empty pumpkin. You'll use that guide to cut out a small hole, into which you'll insert and secure the spigot. From there, simply pour your favorite beer inside, and you'll be ready to go.
After you finish drinking (and sober up enough to safely use sharp tools), Jacobson recommends carving the pumpkin keg into a jack-o'-lantern to double the fall fun that you'll get out of just one gourd. For true pumpkin lovers, he also suggests toasting the discarded pumpkin seeds and enjoying them as a snack with your beer.