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Pumpkin Ale Version 2 Tasting Notes

I made a commitment to start posting more about my homebrewing. I noticed that I post a fair number of recipes, but I never review them and explain future changes that I would make. I’m going to start making a better effort to do this and I figured I should review my Pumpkin Ale while I still have some left.

My pumpkin beer pours a nice clear dark amber color and has a thin white head that fades with time. The nose smells like pumpkin pie with a balanced dose of spices and some pumpkin meat.

The taste is pretty close to what I was shooting for. There is a good malt flavor with some hints of bread and graham cracker. The pumpkin pie spices come in and help clean up the beer. I really liked the aftertaste on this one. After all of the major flavor components have a chance to sit for a bit, they meld nicely.

This beer turned out exactly like I wanted it to with a few minor exceptions. The clove was a bit stronger than the other spices, so I will dial that one back a bit. I did think the spices were in balance with the beer though. This was not one of those overly spiced pumpkin beers. I want to add a bit more body to it as well. The oats didn’t give it as much silky texture as I would have liked. I’ll probably increase the mash temperature to help get some longer sugars out of it and as a result, more body. The mix of crystal malts worked nicely and I wouldn’t change a thing there. I might take a look at giving it some more bread character to better simulate the crust of a pumpkin pie. I would consider adding a touch of biscuit, brown, or carabrown malt depend on what I had on hand. I’m pretty happy with this recipe overall and I think I’m 90% there as far as how I want it to be.

Beer Review #245 Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Not your typical beer review for today. No I don’t have a super rare beer that was aged in wine barrels for 12 months with flakes gold. Today’s beer review comes from Blue Moon Brewing Company, also known as Coors Brewing Company. I don’t review a lot of macro breweries as they don’t put out a ton of different beers, but I do occasionally bump into them (or a brewery gets bought up by them).

Harvest Pumpkin Ale pours a burnt orange color with a thin white head. It’s actually a really pretty color for a beer. The nose has a bit of pumpkin pie spice but not enough to scream pumpkin ale. There are some toasted malt notes along with a slight sweetness in there as well.

I was surprised to find that the spices carry over into the actual flavor of this beer. I’ve found that a lot of beers that smell as if they were lightly spiced pumpkin beers don’t carry that flavor into the actual drinking part of the beer. The spices are not strong by any means but there are there. The toasted notes follow¬† through along with a decent and balanced malt sweetness.

I actually enjoyed this one a bit. While it doesn’t really say pumpkin beer to me because of how light the spice flavor is, it’s a drinkable beer. This is a good transition beer for a newcomer to craft beer (even if this isn’t a craft brew). This one comes in at 5.7% in case you were wondering. While I probably will not venture down this beer’s road again, I can say that it was much better than expected.

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…)

Beer Review #239 Punk’n Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Uinta Brewing Company of Salt Lake City, Utah recently showing up in my local beer store and I grabbed a few bottles of their stuff based off of a suggestion from a friend (and their cool bottles). I’d never heard of Uinta before but I dug the bottle art and general feel of their product. I’ve mentioned several times that I’m a sucker for good marketing and their total package is a great example of good marketing. As a side-note I talk about design in my day job so I have a hankering to acknowledge good design.

I originally wasn’t going to get a pumpkin beer from the store as I’m avoid seasonal beers for the most part this year. But seeing as this was a new brewery to me, I figured it was okay. Punk’n pours a nice orange amber color with a soapy off-white head that quickly fades into a thin surface floater. The nose was outstanding in the fact that you can actually smell pumpkin meat (that term always grossed me out). Unlike those “pumpkin spice” beers, you can really get an idea that this beer was brewed with the real thing. There was a nice sweetness that was mixed in there as well along with a light pumpkin pie spice.

This beer tastes as close to a pumpkin pie as any beer that I have ever had. The pumpkin flavor is very noticeable and well balanced with the malt and spices. The spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and all spice,  come in at the end to act as hops and help finish out the beer. It really leaves a great aftertaste when it is all said and finished.

In my opinion this beer is everything that a pumpkin beer should be. There is real pumpkin flavor and the spices compliment the beer, not overpower it. I really like this one and I highly suggest it. (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.