Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pumpkin Beer 2013

It is that time of year again. Pumpkins are starting to show up at the stores so that brewers like me can turn them into beer!

This year I followed the same recipe, almost, that I did last year. Despite knowing what I needed to do the brew day turned into quite a disaster. I decided to brew with my buddy Chase who just got hired as a brewer at Bristol. We also invited some of our co-workers from the Brewing Science Institute. This dream brewing team was unable to handle what was ahead of them.

Problems started when I showed up with not enough grain, I was about 4 pounds short. This was easily fixed by scaling back our 10 gallon batch to 8 gallons. As we pulled out the equipment that we needed for the day we found that it had been put away wet and dirty and was covered in mold. Before we could even start brewing we had to clean everything.

Things went from bad to worse when our roasted pumpkin turned our mash into cement. It took an extra hour and a lot of stirring to get what we needed out of the mash tun. When it became time to add hops we found that no one had any hop bags. We opted to go without, which was a terrible idea. When it came time to run the beer through the chiller all the hops immediately jammed the chiller which left us with 8 gallons of beer and no way to cool it.

I decided to cut me losses and take the beer home hot. I then placed it back on the stove, boiled it again for ten minutes, and then cooled it with my own chiller. Finally getting the beer into the carboy after an almost 8 hour brew day.

Despite all the disaster the beer turned out great. Here is the recipe and a review.

Recipe for 8 gallons of beer

OG 16 Plato
FG 3.5 Plato
IBU 27
ABV 7.5%

90% Marris Otter
10% Caramel 20
3 pound toasted pumpkin added to the mash tun

60 minutes 1 oz 13% AA Magnum
10 minutes 0.75 oz 6% AA Sterling

5 minutes from end of boil 1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
AT BOTTLING 2oz sugar (for carbonation)
AT BOTTLING 1/4 oz Vanilla
AT BOTTLING 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

Beer pours with a strong and sticky head. The foam turns into a lovely white lacing around the glass. The beer is orange-gold in color and is almost crystal clear. Small bubbles rise to the top of the beer from the nucleation site, excellent carbonation.

Aroma is a little sweet and filled with pumpkin pie spice. The spice is not overwhelming, it is clearly a beer that has been spiced to smell like pumpkin instead of a pumpkin pie bomb. It would be nice to have some caramel or grain notes to add some pie crust aroma.

The taste is excellent. Pumpkin pie spice is subtle and in the finish. The vanilla went a long way to smooth out the palate. The alcohol is not perceptible which is pretty impressive for the ABV.

Mouthfeel is smooth and full.

Overall this beer turned out very well, despite the rough start. It will be a great beer to share at Thanksgiving this year.