Pumpkin Ale

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pumpkin Ale

A few weekends ago, Nick and I brewed up a pumpkin ale. I will make an update on where we are to date with the pumpkin ale but for now, I want to give some input on the brew day that was:

First off, Nick was good enough to volunteer for "pumpkin prep". This consisted of buying, gutting and scooping 8-10 pumpkins. Nick bought 20, because he was not sure what the weight would be after they were all gutted. In the end, we has 12lbs of pumpkin, so 8-10 pumpkins make for 12-14lbs of finished pumpkin product.

To prep, Nick carved the pumpkins in to 6-8" chunks. He placed these chunks on a cookie sheet at 350f for 1 hour (of until beginning to brown). After this he peeled the skin off and was left with the orange mass of the pumpkin. Nick took care of this a few days before our brew day and had it in the fridge. This was good because the process would have been a brew day in it's self.

One the day of brewing, Nick came over with the 12lbs of pumpkin and put it into my 5 gallon bucket and cooked it on the grill. We added enough water to cover the pumpkin chunks and stirred pretty aggressively to prevent burning. This took an hour and in the end, the pumpkin was a chunky orange paste.

We added the pumpkin to the mash tun just after we struck the mash. This got a little complicated because the pumpkin held a lot of heat and made a lot of "hot spots" in the mash. With a little ice and some aggressive stirring, it worked out in the end. However, for people looking to brew this, take into consideration the temp of your pumpkin because there is enough of it there to throw off your reading.

We let the mash sit for 1 hour. We were not able to add water to the mash for a mash out because the mash tun was too full so we pulled some off and did a quick decoction to elevate the temp.

In the end, we hit our 154f for the mash and had it up to 170 for the mashout. We batch sparged and had a little over 13 gallons in the pre boil (the brew kettle was REALLY full). Our goal was to have 12 gallons in the end because of traub loss.

Regarding the spices, we did not have "pumpkin pie" spice so we used my wife's Betty Crocker Cookbook and increased the amount as we saw fit. We were concerned initially because the amount of spice versus the amount of wort seemed as though you would not taste the spice. However, once we added it, we realized that a little spice goes a long way.

We used a London ESB for both brews because my American Ale yeast that I was going to use did not take the way that I had hoped.

Currently, both 5 gallon batches have been been racked over twice. There was a lot of traub from the primary to the secondary, and from the secondary to the third vessel, it was much less. We had both seen a lot of input from folks saying that the starch from the pumpkin caused a lot of yield losses that we didn't want. In the racking from primary to secondary, Nick took the extra and put it in a 3 gallon carboy he had and topped it off with some DME wort he threw together.

We did that Sunday and we are considering bottling/kegging this Sunday while we brew a cider (cyder?).

In racking it over I had a few little sips, this is a damn fine brew. It's pretty dark for the style, but not too crazy.

The OG was 1.048 and the FG was 1.011.

More to come...


Adam said...

Thanks for the update.

Brian said...

Sounds interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing just how yours turns out in regards to the spice. That was a concern of mine this weekend when I racked to secondary, I ended up missing most of the spice and having to ad more (another 1/2 tsp of all spices)..hopefully I didnt just mess it up to bad but after reading your post I fear I have.

So maybe I just cooked up next years Pumpkin ale :)

Travis said...

I put mine into the keg and had a few samples. It was very good. Not too spicy at all. Don't get me wrong, you could taste it, but it was far from offensive.

We will see how carbonation works with it.