Archive for October, 2011

My Favorite Holiday is Coming Up! Time to Brew!

Monday, October 10th, 2011

With snow already settling into the higher elevations, before we get too excited about winter we need to celebrate the coming of ski season with some good ol’ Halloween action! I brewed a pumpkin beer for the occasion and thought I’d walk through the process since brewing with pumpkin can be tricky.

First off, Pumpkin beer can be more than a simple novelty where people have one pint, then move back to the IPA. The “trick” is to create a good beer first, then add the pumpkin and spice as an enhancement instead of building the beer around a “pumpkin pie” idea. I’ve included my 10 gallon recipe here. It’s a basic, solid amber ale with the finishing hops removed in favor of the pumpkin pie spice. This beer would do very well being finished with an ounce of Amarillo or Willamette, the spice simply replaces that nose and hint of spice in the finish.

Very sincere.

Picking your pumpkin First, find the most sincere pumpkin patch you can… ok look, you just need 3, 1 lbs “baking” pumpkins. These are the ones that your grandma used to make pie before they canned the stuff. Not that your grandma would ever use canned pumpkin, but I digress. Quarter and seed the pumpkins and place them on a cookie sheet flesh-side-up. Bake at 350F for an hour or until some caramelization occurs along the edges. After they cool, use a chefs knife and remove the rind, then dice the pumpkin into 1/4″ pieces.

Everybody in the pool!

After dough-in, stir in the pumpkin pieces and follow your standard mash schedule. Pro Tip: when working with any kind of fiberous adjunct, add 1lbs of rice hulls. While adding no flavor or fermentables, this creates more “space” in the mash so you won’t be dealing with a stuck mash at sparge time. Keep in mind that you will have to account for the rice hulls and the pumpkin in your strike temperature calculations as additional grain weight since they will absorb heat and water.

Add the pumpkin pie spice at flame out which will allow it to steep while you cool the wort. At this point there’s noting else you need do differently from your normal brewing routine. I would suggest you use a neutral yeast like WL001, Nottingham or Saffale 05. All of these are hard working yeasts but add little yeast character. You’re shooting to get that hint of pumpkin and spice and while you don’t want it overwhelming, you don’t want it fighting with yeast flavors either. Follow your standard fermentation schedule as you would for any amber ale.

So get in the spirit and brew up some pumpkin beer! If the parents of the trick-or-treaters are really nice, perhaps you might even hand them a cup! Happy Halloween!