Last Night’s Homebrew: Pumpkin Beer

Last night (well, Sept. 24) I brewed up a pumpkin beer. Last year’s went over so well I decided to make this a yearly seasonal. I tried a different recipe this time, though:

6 lbs extra light malt extract (Muntons dry malt)
1 lb flaked oats
1 lb honey
16 fl oz pure maple syrup
1 can Libby’s pumpkin (pure, not pie filling)
2 tbsp fresh ground cloves
1 whole nutmeg, ground
3 cinnamon sticks
2 oz Chinook hops (11.6% alpha)
1 oz Willamette hops (3.8% alpha)
1 oz Cascade hops (6% alpha)
Safale S-04 English ale yeast

I first brought the water up to 180 degrees F and steeped the oats in a grain sack for 25 minutes. The end result was a mellow bready starter with a bag full of mushy oatmeal. I chose a higher temperature and longer steep than I’d used last year to hopefully avoid having so many proteins in suspension in the beer. I’d lost about a gallon of beer to “crud” at the bottom of the fermenter when all the proteins broke out of suspension. Losing beer isn’t cool.

I then brought the bready water back up to a full boil and added all the malt, honey, maple syrup, spices, pumpkin, and the Chinook hops. The full boil time was set for 90 minutes. The smell from the pot once the pumpkin and spices started mixing was amazing. I was seriously jonesing for some pumpkin pie. It didn’t help that I was enjoying Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale at the time, either (which is absolutely delicious – find it, buy it, drink it).

With 20 minutes remaining on the boil, I then added the Willamette hops and half the Cascade hops. This was purely for flavor, since the Chinook were used for bittering only. Then with 2 minutes left, I added the rest of the Cascade hops for pure aroma.

It’s important to mention that for this batch the new 185,000 BTU propane burner was used. This thing is insane (I love it), and huge. However, I noticed a problem. I had about 1.5 gallons of wort left after the 90 minute boil (started with 3). I’m going to have to use a lot more water early on, else add water as I start the boil (before adding all the ingredients). So I had a very condensed syrup of a wort. Not horrible, until you count the layer of caramelized gunk at the bottom of the brew pot. Not good! Those sugars need to be in the beer, not on the pot’s bottom! Between that and the hefty use of grain sacks, I lost a lot of sugars from this batch…

After heavily topping the fermenter off with clean water to 5 gallons, I ended up with an original gravity (OG) of 1.052 at 62 degrees F. That’s quite light compared to the amount of sugars going in (6 lbs of malt, whatever little from the oats, the honey and maple syrup, and what little from the pumpkin).

Oh well. I aerated the wort, pitched the yeast, and capped and airlocked the fermenter. We’ll see what happens in a few weeks. I’m not concerned about low alcohol content (I’m sure the yeast will get this down to around a 1.010 gravity) but character and robust body. The goal is a tasty pumpkin pie-like dessert beer. This will likely turn out to be a tasty session beer. Not bad, but not the intent. But, we’ll see…


3 Responses to Last Night’s Homebrew: Pumpkin Beer

  1. Anonymous says:

    You gotta give sorghum a go ….

  2. techcommdood says:

    I will. I know you’ve been waiting.

  3. falcon says:

    Hi, since you mentioned previous years Pumpkin Brew going so well, I was wondering if you would be willing to share that recipe?

    Sorry about the deleted post, long story.

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