100 Bottles of Beer – More Fun with Pumpkins

Pumpkin Ales

A Home Brewer’s Personal Journey through His Craft – Part 37 – Pumpkin Ales

pumpkin alesWe have previously brewed a couple of Pumpkin Ales. At the bottom of this post, I will provide links to those postings. But for now, I have some more to tell you about. So, pull up a camp chair, pop the cap on a homebrew, and let me tell three more tales about the noble orange gourd.

Our first brew is one of two stouts we are going to sample. And, these are no run-of-the-mill stouts, my friends. These are Imperial Stouts…Bigger…Bolder…Stronger…and, sandwiched in between these two behemoths, is a hefty Pale Ale.

Pumpkin Head Imperial Stout

This recipe was brewed in February 2015. I know, wrong time of year to brew a pumpkin beer! But, I had some pumpkin in the freezer and needed the room for other stuff. And, is there ever really a wrong time of year for any brew?

  • 12 lb 2 Row pale malt
  • 1 lb C-120 crystal malt
  • 1 lb Munich dark malt
  • 1 lb Victory malt
  • 8 oz Midnight Wheat malt
  • 8 oz chocolate malt
  • 8 oz roasted barley
  • 8 oz flaked barley
  • 12 fl oz molasses
  • 32 fl oz maple syrup (grade A dark amber)
  • 2 oz homegrown Brewers Gold hops (60 min)
  • 1 oz homegrown Brewers Gold hops (15 min)
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet (15 min)
  • 1 tsp Amylase Enzyme
  • .8 oz fresh sliced ginger (1.5 oz before peel and trim)
  • 8 oz Spice Trader Hot Buttered Rum mix
  • 9 lb fresh frozen roasted pumpkin (after roast and peel)
  • UCCS 1388 Belgian Strong Ale yeast
  • Priming: ½ cup corn sugar

Roast the Gourd

Roast previously frozen pumpkin chunks at 375F for 2.25 hours. Peel, cool, and mash.

Heat the Water

Heat 9 quarts water treated with ½ tsp amylase enzyme to 175°F and add mashed pumpkin. Stabilize at 152°F and let mash for 60 minutes. At the same time, heat 18 quarts water treated with ½ tsp amylase enzyme to 165°F. Dough in all milled grains and stabilize at 152°F and let mash for 60 minutes.

Raise both kettles to 170°F mash out and pour the malt mash into lauter-tun. Again, at the same time, strain the pumpkin mash into wort kettle with malt runoff from lauter-tun. Recycle this one time through lauter-tun and proceed to sparge with 170°F water.

Collect 7 gallons of combined pumpkin and malt wort.

Boil the Wort

Bring wort to boil and let boil for 60 minutes before beginning hop additions. Add 2 oz hops and let boil for 45 minutes. Add spices (rum mix and ginger) and maple syrup and molasses. Return to boil before adding Whirlfloc and 1 oz hops. Boil for final 15 minutes. Total 2-hour boil.

Strain out hops, cool wort and pour into the fermenter with yeast already pitched. OG 1.094

Strong Primary Fermentation

Fermentation took 12 -16 hours to get going but became very strong. Showed signs of slowing after another 48 hours but did continue on for three weeks before I determined it had slowed enough to rack to a secondary. Intermediate gravity was 1.036 for about 8% ABV.  Flavor was sweet and alcoholic, lots of roast and subtle spice. No standout flavor of pumpkin, molasses or maple, just a very balanced roast sweetness.

Slow Steady Secondary Fermentation

Secondary fermentation continued for over three weeks until the brew was ready to bottle with ½ cup corn sugar. FG 1.031 for about 8.5% ABV. Flavor was a bit too sweet and alcohol presence did not seem to match the ABV. Needed to be aged for a while.

Pumpkin ales stoutPatience My Friends, Patience

Given about two months of aging at cellar temperature, I would have to say… Excellent!  Not too sweet but very full-bodied. Very dark with a gorgeous brown head that lasts. Alcohol level is apparent. Dark roasted flavors of coffee and chocolate with very subtle pumpkin spice. I was sorry to see the last bottle but enjoyed it just the same.

Now, let’s move on to that Pumpkin Pale Ale…

This started out as Just Another Pale Ale, that’s what I was going to call it, not over the top or experimental like most of my recent brews had been. But, Debbie asked why I was not using the pumpkin in the freezer. So I thought, why not a Pumpkin Pale Ale, and bump up the extracts with some honey. And, yes, I know, it is still not the time of year for a pumpkin ale; so what! This was brewed in March 2017.

Pumpkin AleHoney Pumpkin Pale Ale

  • 3 lb Light DME
  • 3 lb Amber DME
  • 3 lb 2 oz honey
  • 2 lb baked pumpkin
  • 1 lb 55L crystal malt
  • 1 lb Cara-Pils malt
  • 1/4 tsp Amylase Enzyme
  • 1 oz Summit hop pellets (60 min)
  • 1 oz Summit hop pellets (45 min)
  • 1 oz Bravo hop pellets (30 min)
  • 1 oz Bravo hop pellets (15 min)
  • 2 oz Crystal whole cone hops (dry hop secondary)
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet (15 min)
  • 11.5g Safale S-04 yeast (1 pkg)
  • Priming: ½ cup corn sugar and ½ cup DME

An Extract Brew

It had been a long time since I had done an extract brew. Trying to use time wisely and brew an extract while mashing an all-grain like I used to do. This takes careful timing so both kettles for this brew are ready at the same time, and still keep the schedule for the all-grain. The all-grain I was brewing was Black Truffle Gose, a style we have not yet addressed, but will very soon. Here is the promised link to Gose.

Treat 1-gallon cold water with enzyme, add milled grains and bring just to boil. In another larger kettle, place pumpkin in a nylon grain bag in 2 gallons water and bring to boil. Remove and drain pumpkin bag. Strain grains into the main kettle without sparging. Return to boil, add honey. Return to boil, add DME and stir until fully dissolved. Return to boil taking care to prevent boil-over.

Add hops and Whirlfloc at times indicated for a total 60-minute boil.

Cool wort and sprinkle yeast over top (per the package, this yeast did not require re-hydration) Stir in and pour the wort into the fermenter. Volume was 2.5 gallons at this point. Top to 5.5 gallons with cold water. OG 1.070; happily, higher than I expected.

Over the Top Activity

Had some good fermentation activity the following morning, becoming strong by evening. The second morning, it was still very strong. By the third morning, it was calming down but, sometime during the night, it had foamed up through the fermentation lock and created a bit of a mess. Nothing major and activity had calmed back down. After another five days, rack to secondary with the dry hops added loose in the fermenter – no hop bag. Gravity was 1.015 for 7.5% ABV. Had cleared better than expected at this point and was already very hoppy.

Seven days in the secondary, then bottle with ½ cup corn sugar and ½ cup DME. FG = 1.014. Maybe call it 7.6 ABV. Very little change although activity was constant, I may have bottled a bit early but was very clear except for dry hops. Aroma was wonderfully hoppy, the flavor was very hoppy and bitter as well. Maybe more into the IPA range, but, I want to call it HPPA, just sounds good. I thought it was wasteful to dispose of the dry hops, the aroma was wonderful. But, I knew they were done.

Three Weeks Bottle Conditioning

The hop aroma had lessened but was still good. The flavor was more bitter than hoppy. Moderate chill haze and an appropriate pale ale pale amber color. No obvious pumpkin flavor but, there were no pumpkin spices, may be contributing to the bitterness. Overall, pretty good but not what I was hoping for.

Let’s See What a Little Time Will Do

This did get better over time. Combining pumpkin with a pale ale left a brew which is neither. Still had a lot of chill haze and some fairly heavy sediment. The awesome hop aroma after dry hopping did not carry through well. While it was good and very drinkable, it was not what I had hoped for…or hopped for.

Moving On to the Second Imperial Stout

This is a remake of the Pumpkin Head Imperial Stout we started with, adding a few tweaks. Tried to make it a bit lighter, not an Imperial, but the OG came out higher! Probably due to the increase in pumpkin. This was brewed a little closer to the right time of year to brew a pumpkin beer… December 2017. I still had some pumpkin in the freezer and Debbie wanted me to use it up.

Pumpkin ales Chilis
Disregard the Apple – No Apples here…

Chili Pumpkin Imperial Stout

  • 12 lb 2 Row pale malt
  • 1 lb C-120 crystal malt
  • 1 lb Munich dark malt
  • 1 lb Victory malt
  • 8 oz chocolate malt
  • 8 oz roasted barley
  • 12 fl oz molasses
  • 2 oz homegrown Brewers Gold hops (60 min)
  • 1 oz homegrown Brewers Gold hops (15 min)
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet (15 min)
  • 1 tsp Amylase Enzyme (divided)
  • 1 oz whole dried red chilis (about 4-5 chilis, stems removed)
  • 2 Tbsp Ginger Root powder (divided)
  • 2 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie spice (divided)
  • 3.5 oz Instant mulling spice
  • 8 oz Spice Hunter Hot Buttered Rum mix
  • 12 lb frozen baked pumpkin
  • UCCS 1388 Belgian Strong Ale yeast
  • Priming: ½ cup corn sugar and ½ cup DME

Start With the Pumpkin

Add thawed pumpkin to 8 quarts water treated with ½ tsp amylase enzyme and heat to 152°F. Add mulling spice, 1 Tbsp ginger, and 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice. Stabilize temp at 152°F. At the same time, heat 16 quarts water treated with ½ tsp amylase enzyme to 167°F. Dough in all milled grains and stabilize at 152F and let both kettles mash for 60 minutes. By the end of the mash, both had stabilized at 156°F

Raise both kettles to 170°F mash out and pour malt mash into lauter-tun. Strain pumpkin mash into the kettle with malt wort from lauter-tun. Recycle this combined wort one time thru lauter-tun and proceed to sparge with 170F water. Let pumpkin pulp drain in the lauter-tun colander while waiting for first sparge water to heat. Collect 7 gallons of wort.

Use the Same Boil and Hop Schedule

Bring wort to boil and let boil for 60 minutes before beginning hop additions. Add 2 oz hops and let boil for 45 minutes. Add buttered rum mix, molasses, and chilis in a hop bag. The wort had no spice aroma from first additions so decided to also add another 1 Tbsp each ginger and pumpkin pie spice. Return to boil before adding Whirlfloc and 1 oz hops. Boil for final 15 minutes. Total 2-hour boil.

Strain out hops and chilis, cool wort and pour into the fermenter with yeast already pitched. OG 1.100

Crazy Strong Fermentation!

The next morning, at 6:30 AM, activity was off to a good start. At 12:30 PM it was beginning to bubble out through the lock.  I replaced the lock with a blow-off hose. By 4:30 PM there was a steady stream of CO2 and kraeusen blowing into the overflow bucket. Very vigorous activity! Aroma of molasses and spices. 24 hours later, the activity had settled enough to remove the blow-off and reattach the fermentation lock. I estimated 2-3 quarts of brew lost to the overflow.

Rack to Secondary

Chili Pumpkin alesFermentation slowed enough after six more days to rack the brew to a secondary. It was not as heavy as I had expected given the gravities. It was surprisingly light, not overly sweet and full of flavor. Admittedly, I expected to be adding some more chilies to balance the flavor but did not. A heavy layer of trub with lots of tightly wound spirals of the pumpkin pulp strings. Probably lost another quart to the trub layer. Flavor was very balanced with the dark malts, pumpkin, spices, and chilies. Chili was the first flavor I tasted, but not chili heat, just flavor, in perfect balance with everything else.

Intermediate gravity was 1.032 for about 9.3 ABV… so much for not trying to go Imperial!

Maybe a Little Over-Primed?

This was ready to bottle after eight days in the secondary but it went 12 days. I couldn’t get to it over the Christmas holiday. Bottle with ½ cup corn sugar and ½ cup DME. Should have cut that back some given the losses to the over-activity and heavy trub. FG 1.026 for about 10.1% ABV…Yow! That is definitely Imperial level.

A hint of chili flavor without the heat. A complex blend of roasted, chocolate, and spice. Cleared well though very black with a smooth velvety mouth-feel and body. No real obvious alcohol presence, even with the high ABV. I was expecting greatness from this brew!

Yep! Over-Primed… Over-Carbed

Tried the first of these after 2 ½ weeks in the bottle. As I had feared, it was over-carbed. Not really a gusher but was too foamy to pour a proper glass. I put all the bottles in the beer fridge to stop the process. After being fully chilled, the carb level was good if poured carefully. Although, even chilled, the longer it aged; the more over-carbonated it became.

But… There is Good News

The good news is, this was awesome! Very complex layers of flavor. Fruitiness from both the pumpkin and the chilies. Chili flavor without the heat. Very subtle spice flavors, not readily identifiable as pumpkin spices. Flavors of chocolate, coffee, and dark roast. No obvious hop flavor or aroma. Very black, lots of body, smooth and silky. The high ABV was not apparent, at least not until after about halfway through the second bottle! It had been a while since I brewed one I would have to proclaim: Very Excellent!

That’s All the Pumpkin I’ve Got

There you have it. That is all the Pumpkin Ales I have done to date. As promised, here are the links to other posts with Pumpkin Ales:

Pumpkin Spice AlePumpkin Ales

Pumpkin Saison

Funny… I thought there were more…

Keep on Brewin’

About

I am the HomeBrew Guru… My name is Bob Archibald. Some of you may remember me as the grumpy old man behind the bar at Bristol Brewing (bristolbrewing.com) in Colorado Springs where I had been pouring beer for over 12 years. They finally decided I was getting too old or didn’t have enough tattoos or something and replaced me with younger hipper bartenders. Oh well, it was time I moved on anyway. At least they kept my home brew recipe for the annual Christmas Ale! I have been home brewing since late 1994 and have brewed over 150 beers to date. Although I am not a highly technical brewer (its more of a ZEN thing) and still brew on a stovetop, I have created many different styles of beer and have gotten rave reviews for some of my creations. I have also dabbled with mead and wine to equal degrees of success. My latest endeavor is to try my hand at distilled spirits. I have found the basic stovetop method of brewing to be economical and in no way limiting in the quality and variety of beer which can be produced by the home brewer. I also still bottle condition my brews because I like the flavor of a good bottle conditioned beer. It is also more economical than the expense of kegging and the necessary draft system, just a little more time-consuming. A LITTLE MORE ABOUT MY BACKGROUND I am originally from Montana. I went to high school in the little town of Plains and later to an electronics school in Missoula, which eventually lead to a career in the telecom industry for about 23 years. First with Mountain Bell where I did everything from Operator Services to Central Office Installation to Outside Plant. From there I went to Northern Telecom, better known as Nortel, where I did Central Office Installation, Engineering, Grounding, Fiber Optics, and finally Sales Engineer. The telecom industry had a bit of a melt-down after the events of 9/11 and I found myself looking for work. I tried a couple of customer service jobs and ran my own retail business for 5 years. During that time I picked up the part-time gig with Bristol Brewing and I guess it sort of stuck, for a while anyway. 100 BOTTLES OF BEER I began writing my Home Brew Blog, 100 Bottles of Beer, about 9 years ago. It was hosted on Associated Content and then moved to Yahoo Voices. Both of those venues have shut down and I have now moved to WordPress. I went about two years without writing a new one but, I have now revived it here. The blog chronicles my fermentation adventures from how I got started in home brewing, my very first brew through my 100th brew and beyond. All recipes and instructions are included as well as related brewing history, brewing basics and advanced methods, personal experiences, successes, and failures. The most important thing to remember is… KEEP ON BREWIN’

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