I can’t recall the origination of my idea to make pumpkin ale, but I do remember sticking with it. It was probably sometime back in July when I decided I’d start brewing again and this time make seasonal brews, like a pumpkin ale for Halloween/Thanksgiving.
However, the season wasn’t on my side for making pumpkin ale in time for Halloween. We don’t see pumpkins down here until the second week of October, pushing back the beer tasting well past Trick-or-Treating. No big deal – we don’t join the majority of the United States when it comes to that holiday. We’re really big on Thanksgiving and Christmas but not on the celebration of goblins and such. Having pumpkin ale in time for a Halloween party just wasn’t on the top of my priority list. Getting to drink it at Thanksgiving is a more highly desired and attainable goal.
I started searching back in August for a recipe, and luckily I found several. There’s one at The Brew Site, Serious Eats, and Brew More Beer. Taking something from each recipe and changing the ingredients again when I went shopping, I came up with this recipe:
5 Gallon Rehberg Pumpkin Ale
|3 lb Light Dry Malt Extract||4 lb Domestic 2-row Malt||1 lb Crystal 20L Malt||3 oz Chocolate Malt||3.75 lb Roasted Pumpkin|
|2.5 Tsp Cinnamon||1.5 Tsp Nutmeg||1.5 Tsp Allspice||0.75 oz Northern Brewer hop pellets (9.4% AA)||1 oz East Kent Goldings hop pellets (5.7% AA)|
- This will take three main stages: Roasting the pumpkin, Mashing, and Boiling.Cut the pumpkin into quarters (or smaller if you prefer) and remove the seeds and stems. Place them on a baking sheet and put them in a 350°F oven for about an hour or until the pumpkin meat is soft.
- Put all your grains and the pumpkin in nylon grain bags and mash (steep) them at 145°F – 155°F for an hour. Remove the grains and pumpkin, allowing them to drain into the wort.
- Bring to a boil and add the dried malt extract. Boil for an hour, adding the Northern Brewer hops at 60′, the Kent Goldings hops at 15′, and the three spices at 5′.
- Ferment for one week in primary and rack to secondary. Ferment for one more week, then bottle with 5 oz priming sugar. Bottle-conditioning should be complete in two weeks.
Thanks to John Larsen at HomeBrew Den in Tallahassee for his expertise and recommendations.
October 14, 2012: This recipe was followed. Ended up with an adjusted OG of 1.046. Pitch temperature was around 75°F. Will rack to secondary on October 21, 2012.
October 21, 2012: I racked it to secondary yesterday, October 20. I can still smell the spices but the fruitiness of the hops has settled in a bit. It really feels like this is going to be good! I have a gravity of about 1.012 now, and the calculators say I have about 4.3% ABV. So far it hasn’t been very active in the Better Bottle, so I’ll be checking on it again tomorrow to see if the gravity has changed. If not, it’s ready to bottle and cap — meaning we may can have it on the show on November 9.
October 23, 2012: Wow. White Labs California Ale yeast is aggressive. I got a final gravity of 1.010 tonight and decided that it was time to bottle. I didn’t want to wait too long and not get a good carbonation, so here we are. It was non-active in the Better Bottle and hadn’t really done much since I racked it to secondary on Saturday. I added the priming sugar to the bottling bucket and went to work. I yielded exactly 48 bottles, and the last one was only about 3/4″ short. I hope it doesn’t explode.
This is the end of the process for the Pumpkin Ale; I’ll report back in a few weeks when we crack it open. Look for it on the show November 9.