Serving Beer From a Pumpkin: 2 Methods

It's officially Fall. And that means pumpkin season is here. You can hate pumpkin beer all you want, and that's fine because this article isn't about that. It's about serving beer from one!  There are two ways to approach this (both of which are really for show). One is a lot cleaner and the other is a bit more unorthodox, but both methods are used regularly for serving beer out of a pumpkin at a party.

Method 1: The Jockey Squash

This is what you'll aim to do if you want to keep the quality and clarity of your beer in tact. In essence, you're installing a tap in a squash, running beer line through a jockey box, and having the line go through another hole in the squash up to the tap (installed in the squash). This works best if you have a few sets of keg accessories already as you don't have to buy anything new, but the things you would need to buy if you already have a Jockey box are minor.

Pumpkin-Banner

Tools and Materials:

  • Pumpkin - Decent size, it doesn't need to be huge but it shouldn't be tiny either. After-all this will likely serve as the centerpiece for the beer serving area and the wall must be thick enough to withstand pulls on the tap handle.
  • Beer Faucet and Shanks (varying sizes) - We are working with a plant here. And with all natural things, stuff like the thickness of the pumpkin isn't a guarantee. So having a few different lengths of shank available. You may already have the perfect size at your disposal.
  • Beer Line - Like I mentioned, If you already keg, you should have some laying around.
  • Electric Drill with appropriate bits (optional) - To drill hols in your pumpkin. You can also wing it with a knife if you want to put your carving skills to the test.
pumpkin jockey box The Pumpkin Jockey box

Steps:

  1.  Cut the top off your pumpkin - and scoop out the guts. You aren't lighting a fire inside the pumpkin, so you can leave some stringy bits to preserve extra wall thickness, especially on the side that will hold the faucet, but you still don't want a total mess inside either.
  2. Drill a hole for the shank - it's better to be on the small side than it is to drill a hole too large. Remember again, this is a plant, and you can shimmy the shank into a tight fit. If the hole is too large the shank may sit loosely which will make pouring a lot less fun.
    If you mess up: turn the pumpkin around and use the messed up hole for your beer line.
  3. Drill a hole for the beer line - Drill a hole for the beer line to go through and connect to the shank from your keg.
  4.  Set the rest of the assembly up  just like a regular jockey box build. I don't recommend putting ice and your coil in the pumpkin, ice melts, and water will get everywhere.
  5. Optional - Decorate. As long as the function isn't impeded, you can decorate the pumpkin as you wise. LED Lights, smoke machine, the options are endless. Heavy duty carving might be a no-no as it reduces the structural integrity of the pumpkin.

Method 2: The Beer Dispenser

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This is one seen more commonly on Pinterest and other artsy DIY sites. With this method, you cut a hole in the top, install a spigot, and fill it with beer (lead image). The beer has direct contact with the wall of the pumpkin and over the course of the party the beer changes characteristics by absorbing some of the pumpkin.

This however isn't ideal as pumpkins taste more like a vegetable and less like pumpkin pie. You need pumpkin pie spice for that. Your guests will also be getting little bits and pieces of pumpkin in their beer as the night goes on. If you still want to rock this method either because you're brave, or don't have a kegging setup, here's how. Remember, just like Cinderella, it will only last for the night.

Tools and Materials:

  • Pumpkin - Decent size, but the bigger it is, the more beer it will be able to hold.
  • Spigot- One with a longer shank is better to deal with the wall of the pumpkin.

Steps:

  1.  Cut the top off your pumpkin - and scoop out the guts. You want to scrape out all the string to ensure the spigot won't get clogged with it or get served into someones glass. Also, since you are pouring carbonated beer into it, you want as few nucleation points as possible (which will cause your beer to de-carbonate faster)
  2. Drill a hole for the spigot - it's better to be on the small side than it is to drill a hole too large. Remember again, this is a plant, and you can shimmy the spigot into a tight fit. If the hole is too large the pumpkin will leak. You may have to shave the inside of the pumpkin to be thinner for the spigot to attach properly.
    If you mess up: Time for a new pumpkin unfortunately.
  3. Pumpkin Pie Spice (optional) - You've already decided to go full ham and serve beer form a pumpkin, so why not go ahead and rub some pumpkin pie spice into the gourd's inner wall to amp up your pumpkin beer.
  4.  Think ahead - Carbonate the batch you plan on having go into the pumpkin a bit higher than you actually want it. This will help off-set the de-carbonation from nucleation points inside the pumpkin.

pumpkin ale jack-o-lantern

Obviously, the jockey box method is preferred in this case as you still have a great serving novelty that will last for several October events (provided the gourd stays outside in the cold), and you also won't be messing up your beer with vegetable matter and flavors. Whichever route you go for your gathering, enjoy the Season!

 

by David Doucette
David is a full blown fermentation enthusiast who has dedicated much of his free time to learning and sharing the art of homebrewing. He's spent several years documenting and writing homebrewing information on his blog Hive Mind Mead. He's written over 60 articles between Homebrew Talk and Homebrew Supply.

Sources

Lead photo source

written by David Doucette

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