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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…)

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.

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 #154 Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

It seems like the list of pumpkin beers grows every year. This year was no exception with many new beers coming out to the market or beers entering new areas. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale is the first beer that I have ever seen and tasted from the Saint Louis Brewery of St. Louis, Missouri. The first thing that drew me to this beer was that the label was put on upside-down. I guess that QA took the day off when they sent this batch out. Anyway, a label doesn’t take away from the liquid inside, but I am suspect of a brewery who doesn’t take care of details like this. It make me think, “if they don’t care about what their beer looks like, what else don’t they care about?”

This pumpkin ale pours a nice amber color with a bit of haze. There is an off-white head that floats on top of the beer below. The nose was nothing like what I had expected. It had some sour notes and that was about it. I didn’t get any spices, hops, malt, or pumpkins. Odd for a beer like this.

On my first taste I got a brief look at sweetness and then it was buried by spices and pumpkin flavor. The flavor was an unexpected surprise since the nose was so mild. There was a bit of a sour ending, but nothing like what the nose suggested.I also didn’t get any heat which I was expected for a 8.0% ABV beer.

I’m not sure what to think of this one. The pumpkin flavor is there, but not in a strong way and the spices are very deeply melded into the rest of the beer. I’ve heard from a few other people that this is a solid pumpkin beer so I’m going to assume that I got a bad bottle. It was still a good beer, but not what was promised. I’ll try it again next year to see if I can get a better sample of it.