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Stytle of the Week: Pumpkin Beer!

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October 24, 2015 by fhsteinbart


Lovely color, and a great way to tap into the flavors of the Autumn!

Lovely color, and a great way to tap into the flavors of the Autumn!

While some would argue that this isn’t a style at all, but a fruit/spice beer, and they’d be right. I just like to be more specific when brewing a beer so as to have a more focused approach rather than the more generic idea of simply making a vegetable/herb/spice beer. Since the spices that go into pumpkin pie spice can vary, I prefer to make my own with ginger, mace, nutmeg, all spice, and cinnamon. I use 1 gram each per 5 gallons (about a half tablespoon total), and find that gives a nice balance of spice flavors, and aromas. I also recommend a similar aliquot of spices just before packaging as this will enhance the spice aroma. Also, lactose is used along with graham crackers in the mash (extract brewers can do a minimash with a nice British type Pale Ale malt) to give you that nice creamy whipped topping and yummy crust flavors as found in pumpkin pie. For the base beer, I find that either an Amber or Brown ale works best as those flavors and aromas compliment nicely with one another. Also, some soft flowery or herbal hops like Fuggles, Willamette, or Goldings work well with this kind of beer. One of the things that most people do incorrectly is that they use the wrong kind of pumpkin. Not all pumpkins are for pie; just like apples, some are decorative, while others make great beverages, while still others are best for eating. Real pumpkin pie pumpkins are typically green, while a few are yellowish; the orange ones aren’t what’s used for pies, although you can use Hubbard squash in a pinch as they are very similar in color and flavor. Just take the squash and quarter it, removing seeds for future use (very tasty when roasted, or dried for planting), and placing the quarters skin side down in a baking dish (I prefer glass) at 450° F. for one hour. This does a couple of things: it dehydrates the squash (which is around 90% plus water) breaks down the starches into dextrin’s that can be turned into sugar with the help of alpha amylase as found in base malts. It also caramelizes the sugars broken down from the shorter oligosaccharides which enhances the flavors considerably. After the squash have cooled, they are ready to mash, and I find a coarse draw string bag to be most useful in preventing a gooey starchy mess in your mash tun, or kettle. Below is a recipe of mine that everyone says tastes like a slice of pumpkin pie, just don’t forget the ice cream!

Extract:

  • 6 lbs. Light DME
  • 2 lbs. Maris Otter Pale Ale Malt
  • ¾ lb. Crystal 40
  • ¼ lb. Crystal 120
  • ½ oz. Goldings Hops (Bittering)
  • ½ oz. Willamette or Fuggles Hops (Flavor)
  • ½ oz. Goldings Hops (Aroma)
  • ¼ oz. Calcium Chloride in the boil
  • 1~2 Tbs. Pumpkin Pie Spice to taste
  • 5~10 lbs. Pumpkin as aforementioned above
  • 1 lb. Lactose (can be omitted by those who are intolerant)
  • 1 lb. Graham crackers
  • Wyeast 1968, White labs WLP002, Imperial Pub, or Safale S-04 Dry Yeast

Instructions:

  • Heat 2½ gallons of water to 155°F.
  • Turn off heat and add malt extract, stirring until fully dissolved, and add pumpkin in bag to the wort with the Maris Otter Malt, lactose, and graham crackers for 20 minutes.
  • Add sufficient water to bring wort to working volume.
  • Return to heat, bring to boil for 10 min. then add bittering hops. (Goldings, 60 min).
  • At 20 minutes remaining in the boil, add the flavor hops.
  • At 15 minutes remaining in the boil, add a Whirfloc tablet.
  • At the end of the boil, add the aroma hops.
  • After boil has finished, turn off heat and cool wort by placing kettle in an ice bath or use a wort chiller. (0 min)
  • Add mixture to fermenter, removing hops, and bring total volume to 5 gallons using non-distilled bottled water or filtered tap water.
  • Aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well).
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 68° F until completed (about a week).
  • Allow to age an additional four to six weeks before packaging up as usual.

All Grain:

  • 10 lbs. Pale Ale Malt
  • ¾ lb. Crystal 40
  • ¼ lb. Crystal 120
  • ½ oz. Goldings Hops (Bittering)
  • ½ oz. Willamette or Fuggles Hops (Flavor)
  • ½ oz. Goldings Hops (Aroma)
  • 1~2 Tbs. Pumpkin Pie Spice to taste
  • 5~10 lbs. Prepared pumpkin as outlined above
  • 1 lb. Lactose (can be omitted by those who are intolerant)
  • 1 lb. Graham crackers
  • ¼ oz. Calcium Chloride in the mash and in the boil
  • Wyeast 1968, White labs WLP002, Imperial Pub, or Safale S-04 Dry Yeast

Procedure:

Infusion mash at 152°F for 1 hour, having the baked pumpkin in a draw string bag, along with the graham crackers. Sparge to 6.5 gallons of wort, and bring to a roiling boil. Add the bittering hops 10 minutes into the boil. Add the flavor hops in 20 minutes remaining in the boil. Continue boiling for 10 more min. then add Whirlfloc tablet or Irish moss. At the end of the boil, add the aroma hops, and the lactose, then cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or using a wort chiller. Add mixture to fermenter, removing hops, and aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well). Pitch yeast and ferment at 68°F. Gravity may vary depending on system efficiency, so adjust accordingly.

Package up as usual; bottled versions should use 90 gms. corn sugar (approx. 2/3 cup), or kegged to 15 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 55°~60°F in a Thistle glass, share, and enjoy! This beer will continue to evolve and change over the coming months, so make enough to last you through your next brew.

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