In his youth, Nick Venetucci was two things: a damn good baseball player and a farm boy. And in 1936, the Colorado Springs native gave up the chance to play for the New York Yankees to help with the family farm. Though the path he chose was far from that of a famous ball player, Venetucci still became a legend.
Each fall, area school children flocked to the farm where Venetucci gave away thousands of pumpkins. By the time he died in 2004, he was not only known as the Pumpkin Man, but he had also donated millions of the gourds to the community.
The feel-good tale is so close to the city’s heart that each October, Colorado Springs–based Bristol Brewing Company whips up Venetucci Pumpkin Ale in honor of the Pumpkin Man. The russet-colored, medium-bodied beer is a seasonal sensation that sells out—both in the taproom and at local liquor stores—in a mere two days. “It’s a fantastic beer, and people love the story,” says Bristol’s Laura Long.
As a bonus, 100 percent of the ale’s profits go back to the farm. Before his death, the Pumpkin Man made plans to donate the now 74-year-old family farm to the Pikes Peak Community Foundation. “The Venetuccis didn’t want their farm to end up as a strip mall,” explains Michael Hannigan, the foundation’s CEO.
“They had the idea that it would continue as a working farm and ultimately help kids out.” And so, when fall rolls around each year, the farm donates about five acres of pumpkins to the brewery. Once Bristol’s ale is complete, the byproduct from the brewing process is trucked back to the farm to feed chickens and pigs and serve as fertilizer for the next crop of pumpkins. This year, expect the much-anticipated brew to launch around the first of October—just in time to celebrate autumn. www.bristolbrewing.com