Bookmark and Share

The story behind Wilmington Brewing’s ‘pretty pumpkin ale’

Ican't quite grasp the visceral reactions to the pumpkin spice fanfare erupting the moment a wisp of cooler air flows across the Cape Fear River. After the helluva summer we just survived, I'm with the rest of the parade chanting about sweaters and apple picking and warty gourds and squashes from Trader Joe's arranged on my dining room table.

I hear those being cynical about the corporatized pumpkin spice takeover: the pumpkin spice toothpaste, the vending machine muffins with orange, pumpkin flavoring and the hoards of people at Starbucks waiting for that pump of fall-flavored syrup to shoot into their latte. But when local places around Wilmington do pumpkin spice, they do it right and within good taste. There are the pumpkin spice lattes (the real thing) from Luna Café (604 Castle St.) and Wake N Bake doughnuts serves up their rich pumpkin cheesecake doughnuts (114 Princess St., Wilmington and 1401 N. Lake Park Blvd., Carolina Beach.) Just about every local brewery has their answer to something that tastes like fall. And the bakeries get in on the action, too.

One brewery and bakery have teamed up for the third year in a row to create a special fall, pumpkin brew. Wilmington Brewing Company tosses some of Apple Annie's pumpkin pies into their brew masher for one of the best celebratory pumpkin beers around.

See BREWING, C2

The “Pretty Pumpkin Ale” at Wilmington Brewing Company combines Apple Annie’s pumpkin pies with spices to make the popular brew. [ASHLEY MORRIS/STARNEWS]

Ashley Morris

From Page C1

When I heard they were tossing pumpkin pies into the beers, I had an image of exactly what happens at Starbucks — a syrup being pumped into the beers. But, no, Apple Annie's actually bakes 100 pies that are thrown into this beer. The brew's only fault is that you can't really taste the crust.

'I pushed the guys a few years ago to do this but they were hesitant,' said co-owner Michelle Savard, who started Wilmington Brewing Company and its homebrew supply store with her husband, John, in 2014. Michelle talked John and his fellow brewers into doing a pumpkin-flavored beer, which led to the pumpkin amber ale. But quickly after, another pumpkin beer fell into place.

Their bakery neighbors at Apple Annie's (837 Kerr Ave.) offered to bring some pumpkin pies and the 'Pretty Pumpkin Ale' was born. The two shops have made a tradition out of tossing the pies into the vat in the last week of August.

'It works out well because brewers and bakers are on the same early morning schedule, so they all come over and we eat pies, drink beers and celebrate,' she said.

The tossing of the pies is especially Instagram friendly, and I have adored watching all the boomerang videos and slo-mo shots of the tossing.

The taste pf pumpkin pie is so subtle, it really more tastes like an ale with a hint of something pumpkin- pie-ish. It's subtly, I think is why it could be so popular around town, selling throughout October at not just the brewery, but at restaurants and other pubs around town. By Halloween, most of the stuff is gone, Savard told me.

I think its popularity is also due to how much our community thrives on partnerships like this one between Apple Annie's and Wilmington Brewing. Sure, anyone could have a pumpkinflavored something, but make it local, add a local tradition and a business partnership and you have the food community's heart (and tastebuds).

As for pairing reccomendations, Savard suggested buying a pumpkin pie from Apple Annie's or rimming the beer glass with some dark brown sugar.

I'd recommend drinking it around a camp fire with some toasted marshmallows and, again, some of the salty crust from the pies.

Wilmington Brewing's home supply store has the recipe for the pumpkin amber ale available for homebrewers, just ask about adding pumpkin pie into the home batch to make it a true 'Pretty Pumpkin Ale.'

Apple Annie’s team members join with Wilmington Brewing Company brewers in August to toss in pumpkin pies.

[CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

Apple Annie’s team members join with Wilmington Brewing Company brewers in August to toss in pumpkin pies.

[CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

Bookmark and Share