LARAMIE — For roughly 100 days, the pumpkins grew, but they never got big.
That's a good thing, University of Wyoming ACRES student farm volunteer Michael Curran said. What Pam Pumpkins lack in size, they more than make up in flavor, which will help make for good pumpkin ale at Altitude Chophouse and Brewery this fall.
"It's going to be exciting," Curran said. "We definitely put in a lot of hard work — not just myself but everyone at the farm — into taking care of these pumpkins, and it's exciting the whole community, everyone who goes to Altitude will know it came from the farm."
Altitude brewer Nathan Venner explained that the idea for collaboration with the student farm was brewed up like many things, at the restaurant.
"A lot of great ideas happen around beer. I think that pubs are places where a lot of different people with different resources in a community can get together and share their knowledge and resources with one another," he said.
For Venner, the problem was how to incorporate more flavorful pumpkins into the brewery's seasonal fall pumpkin ale.
"These small little pumpkins like this, they've got a higher sugar content so they lend a lot more pumpkin flavor to a beer," he said. "You can get more flesh out of a larger pumpkin, but they taste a lot more like squash."
Curran said he volunteered the services of ACRES, which has continued to promote community collaboration and sustainability wherever possible.
"The biggest thing ACRES is trying to do is really push and try to work on our local food movement. Through composting, we have a relationship with a lot of restaurants and the university, and I think what we're trying to promote is community agriculture and growing and sharing locally and kind of working together with our local vendors within the community," he said.
On Oct. 1, ACRES volunteer efforts and Venner's brewing came to fruition with the release of ACRES Pumpkin Ale.
"Fifty cents from each pint is going directly to the student farm," Venner said. "And every time we sell a pint of this beer, we're going to get ACRES' name out there. Brewing is such an agriculturally dependent industry that I felt like it was necessary to kind of get these budding stars in the agriculture community some exposure."
ACRES has a number of other collaborations with local restaurants and enterprises, Curran said, including with the Crowbar and Grill, Washakie Dining Services and more. The farm also sells Community-Supported Agriculture bushels to 15 members in Laramie.
"We'd love to continue doing things like this within the community, either growing our (Community-Supported Agriculture) numbers or branching out with more local merchants," Curran said.