Pumpkin Fermenters


Two roughly 5-gallon (19-L) batches of old ale fermenting inside two pumpkins.

A couple years ago, I brewed a pumpkin ale. The beer was an old ale — an Old Peculiar clone — spiced with traditional pumpkin pie spice. But I decided to take things one step further and ferment the beer inside a pumpkin. That year, I was growing some large pumpkin varieties in my garden. Two of the pumpkins were large enough that I estimated they would hold about 5.0 gallons (19 L) of beer apiece. On brewday, I made 10 gallons (38 L) of wort and cooled it down. While the wort was chilling, I cut the pumpkins open (with a sanitized knife) and scooped out the “guts” (with a large, sanitized spoon). You always want your fermentation vessels to be food grade and pumpkins are not only food grade, they’re actually food. Likewise, you always want your fermenters to be sanitized. And, unless it was diseased, the inside of a pumpkin should not be infected with microorganisms.


The pumpkin fermenters after the beer was racked to keg. The shells did not get soggy and even stayed intact for weeks afterwards.

One thing I worried about was that the shell of the pumpkin would get soggy, especially when alcohol was present, and rupture while beer was in it. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. The pumpkins held up fine during fermentation and even stayed intact for weeks afterwards.

Although this was a fun experiment, there was one drawback — the beer had a raw pumpkin taste, most likely from the contact with fermenter walls. If I try this again, I might try to turn the pumpkin upside down over a heat source and roast the interior. Until then, I’ll just have fond memories of an fun experimental brew.


A boy and his pumpkin.


  1. I actually had a similar a few years ago while I was on vacation and saw someone walking with one of those coconut drinks. I’ve been meaning to get my hands on a few and brew up a small batch of porter or something. I suppose you would need quite a few though. Toasting would almost certainly help the coconut as well, but since you’d have to split between more than one, you could try both ways.

    I think a coconut would actually be strong enough to carbonate in too if you could seal it right- it’d be a great party trick to tap and serve from a coconut!

  2. I’ve often pondered doing this. Likely with a spiced ale of some kind. I like your idea of roasting the innerds of the pumpkin first. I’d suggest rather than putting it upside down, but to use a propane torch. wouldnt take long to roast the pumpkin at all. I think the key here would be to brew the beer with spices, add it to ferment in the pumpkin but then back mix the ale with non pumpkin aged beer to blend it to your desired taste.

    Serving the beer from a tap in the front of the keg might be the ultimate way to serve a beer like this.

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