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Beer Review #244 Pumpkin Lager

I told myself that I wouldn’t buy seasonal beer this year, but I caved on the pumpkin beer front. Call it research for my pumpkin ale. When I saw Lakefront Brewery’s Pumpkin Lager I grabbed it for two reasons, 1.) I never heard of a pumpkin lager and 2.) I never had anything from the Lakefront Brewery.

This beer pours a pale orange color and it is perfectly clear. A thin white head floats along the top for a moment and then fades into the beer. The nose has the typical pumpkin beer spices (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and clove) along with a touch of light sweetness. The bottle says that this is a “beer brewed with pumpkin and pumpkin spices.” I didn’t notice any true pumpkin odor but the spices were nice and seemed to be balanced.

There is a touch of caramel sweetness when first tasting this beer which is followed by some pumpkin flavor. The spices are very light and they don’t provide a bite that spices normally give to the end of a beer. I didn’t mind it but I would have liked a period to the end of the beer if you will. After a few sips I noticed a weird lagerish taste, like a flat metallic flavor. Not a fan of that.

Lakefront Brewery provided my first pumpkin lager and I’m left a bit torn. The first few sips were decent, but the metallic flavor just turned me off. I don’t think that the lager quality, i.e. sulfur, really works in this style of beer. I think I’m going to stick to a few other pumpkin beers next year in lieu of this beer. (more…)

Pumpkin Ale Recipe- Version 2

I’ve brewed two pumpkin beers in the past. My first one was right when I first got into homebrew and it involved cutting up some cooked pumpkin pieces and steeping them in the boil kettle. The results were good but I wanted more out of the pumpkin. I also thought that the porter aspect of my beer took away from the other aspects that I wanted to showcase. About three years ago I brewed my second Pumpkin Ale. I still like the recipe idea but I got a stuck sparge and only collected 2.5 gallons of wort. The only thing that I didn’t realize was that I managed to get the majority of the sugar pulled out of the grain before it stuck, meaning that I had a 15% pumpkin beer.

For this round I wanted to make sure that I could really highlight the pumpkin flavor. I also had two secondary goals; a medium mouthfeel and a bready malt quality. On the technical end I just wanted to avoid a stuck sparge again. Below is the recipe that I decided to go with after looking through the ingredients that I had:

  • 8 lbs. 2-Row
  • 1 lb. Light Munich
  • .5 lb. Oats
  • .5 lb. Carapils
  • .5 lb. Crystal 40
  • .25 lb. Crystal 80
  • .25 lb. Crystal 120
  • 3 lbs. Pumpkin puree
  • 1 lb. Rice Hulls
  • 1.0 oz US Goldings @60 mins
  • 1.0 oz US Goldings @10 mins
  • 1 tsp. Ground nutmeg @1 min
  • 1 tsp. Ground allspice @1 min
  • 1 tsp. Ground cinnamon @1 min
  • WLP008 East Coast Ale Yeast

Generally I like simple malt bills but I went a little more complex on this one. The 2-row is pretty standard as a base grain but the rest are all added for a specific purpose. The Munich malt helps add some breadiness as well as a depth to the malt character. The oats are there to provide a bit more mouthfeel. Carapils is there, well for what Carapils does, head retention. I used a variety of crystal malts to try and hit all ends of the caramel/toffee spectrum. The rice hull are there to help stop a stuck sparge. My pumpkin puree was made using the process I described here with the only difference being that I didn’t add any water. I added the spices at the end to make sure I could get as much flavor out of them as possible without having to add them in the secondary. I made sure to make this mash very thin, mashing 12 lbs. of grain and 3 lbs. of pumpkin puree with 6 gallons of water at 153. I sparged with 2 gallons to collect a total of six gallons of wort.

I wasn’t sure which yeast I wanted to go with on this one originally but the homebrew store only had one “standard” American ale yeast in stock so WLP008 was the choice of the day. After doing some research I think this one will do well with the style. It is described as, “Similar neutral character of WLP001, but less attenuation, less accentuation of hop bitterness, slightly less flocculation, and a little tartness. Very clean and low esters.” The beer comes out with the follow stats:

  • OG: 1.049
  • FG: 1.008
  • ABV: 5.37%
  • IBUs: 24

As of posting this the beer is sitting in the secondary and my transfer sample tasted very nice. I can’t wait to try this one out in a few weeks.

Beer Review #155 Blue Point Pumpkin Ale

I’ve already reached my last pumpkin beer of the year. I found myself in an Oktoberfest beer mood this ear and I didn’t purchase many pumpkin beers. I think part of the problem is that every brewery seems to want to be the first to get their pumpkin ale out. I saw some in late August! Not the time that I want to be drinking a pumpkin ale and by the time I do, like now, they are all gone. I hope the industry gets around to fixing that little issue.

I have had a few Blue Point Brewing Company beers before as they have recently become available in my area. Overall, I have to give them a thumbs up. The brewery is located in Patchogue, New York and they seem to be grown at a decent clip. Their version of a pumpkin ale pours a nice copper color with a thin white head. There is no hazy like there was in my last pumpkin beer. They also managed to get the label the right side up. Good start.

The nose is very “pumpkiny,” with lots of actual pumpkin meat coming through. There are some of the normal spices (clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc) mixed in along with some sweetness. On my first taste I was shocked at how sweet this beer was. There wasn’t any pumpkin pie spice bit to this beer, but rather a slow fade into pumpkin flavor. The slow pumpkin onset was really nice.

I really enjoyed this beer from Blue Point. It was a little sweet for my liking but the gradual change to pumpkin flavor made up for any extra sweetness. I found the bottle a bit interesting because it said, “malt beverage brewed with pumpkin and spice.” I wonder if New York has some weird naming rule on beers where they need to be called a malt beverage if they fall into a certain category. In any case, this is a good one and I look forward to trying it out next year. (more…)

Beer Review #140 Wolaver’s Pumpkin Ale

I have yet another beer to share from Wolaver’s Organic Brewing, errr, Otter Creek Brewing. This one comes in the form of pumpkin ale, since it is now pumpkin beer season. I always go through a love/hate relationship with pumpkin beers around this time of year. I think part of the reason for this is that, frankly, there are not a lot of great pumpkin ales on the market. A lot of them are just normal ales with pumpkin pie spice added, that or the balance that needs to exist in this style of beer just doesn’t happen. I think it is a rare thing to find an outstanding pumpkin ale, but very easy to find one that is alright.

With my rant (was that really a rant?) complete, let’s see how Otter Creek Brewing of Middlebury, Vermont handles their pumpkin ale. They brew this beer with pumpkins from Vermont. The beer pours a nice orange color with a white head and a crystal clear body. The nose smells like a pumpkin ale. I got clove, nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon on the spice end with some actual pumpkin meat in there as well. I’m always a fan of a pumpkin ale when it is more than just spices.

The taste is lacking in any malt character. The pumpkin pie spices are there, but they are not overpowering. I didn’t get any of the pumpkin meat either. I found the taste pretty underwhelming compared to the nose. This is a pretty decent pumpkin ale, but again, nothing really stands out. It does what it says but doesn’t have the wow factor that I had hoped for. It’s good if you are looking for a straightforward pumpkin beer but for me, it didn’t do anything to separate itself from the crowded shelves of other pumpkin ales. (more…)

Beer Review #96 Harpoon Winter Warmer

Harpoon is one of my go to craft breweries. They make some excellent beer that I really enjoy, particularly in the summer time. Harpoon Brewery is located in two places, Boston, Massachusetts and Windsor, Vermont. I had a buddy who lived near their Boston brewery and told some wonderful stories about the beers they offer in their 100 Barrel Series. If you haven’t heard of it before, Harpoon invites a guest brewer to come in and make any beer they want. They brew 100 barrels of the beer and then never make it again. Needless to say I bought their Winter Warmer when I saw it on the shelves.

The beer pours a clear ruby color and has a slightly off-white head. The nose is strongly filled with nutmeg. So much nutmeg flavor in there that it almost presents itself as a minty odor. The taste has a really malty front-end. There are bits of caramel in there and then the nutmeg hit. They really finish out the beer and add some good flavor. There is some cinnamon in there as well, but the nutmeg really take the cake. It is very smooth but I feel like the spices kind of shine more than the whole beer. Harpoon Winter Warmer comes in at 5.5% ABV so it is sessionable, but it just doesn’t do it for me. Try it out for yourself and see what you think. (more…)