This Annual Party Uses a Giant Pumpkin for a Beer Keg

©. Elysian

There's no 'turning into a pumpkin at midnight' because the pumpkin is where it's at!

The Elysian Brewing Company in Seattle knows how to take a keg party to the next level. Every fall the brewery hosts the Great Pumpkin Beer Festival, which serves pints not from a keg (because that would be so ordinary and unseasonal), but rather from a giant pumpkin.

And this is not just a giant pumpkin; this is a colossal cucurbit of prodigious proportions. (Cucurbit, I was interested to learn, is the name of the gourd family.) This year's keg pumpkin weighed 1,790 pounds (812 kilograms) and was grown especially for the occasion by local farmer Joel Holland.

As described by Dan Nosowitz for Modern Farmer, Elysian relies on a forklift to move its gargantuan gourd. Cutting it open requires a Sawzall, a drill, and a cutting torch since the rind can be 16 inches thick. The lid alone weighs 80 lbs (36 kg). Nosowitz describes the unpleasant task of emptying the pumpkin:

"Scraping the inside is difficult; the person doing the work has to go head-first into the pumpkin from the top to get the job done. [Cellarmaster] Beyer says they usually pull about 15 to 20 gallons of guts out of one of these pumpkins."

Once cleaned out, the inside of the pumpkin is burned with the blowtorch in order to get rid of the strong raw pumpkin taste that otherwise infuses the beer. A little bit is good, filling "a malt flavor characteristic," according to Elysian's co-founder and CEO Joe Bisacca, but the taste was too strong the first time the company did it.

The beer is then poured into the pumpkin, to the tune of four kegs' worth -- an impressive 250 gallons (946 litres) -- although Beyer says they have to watch that the pumpkin doesn't crack. Despite being big, that quantity of beer can split the pumpkin's brittle rind.

It's a fun idea and one that I think my small Ontario town, famous for its annual Pumpkinfest and an array of seismic squashes, should consider for future years. The combination of giant pumpkins with great beer and a novel way of dispensing it sounds like an irresistible attraction to this small-town girl.