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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.

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 #141 The Great Pumpkin

I’ve made it no secret that I really enjoy the vast majority of Clipper City Brewing Company beers. I probably had about a dozen or so of their styles, but this is only the fourth review of theirs to make it on this site. I only live an hour or so from Baltimore (right down 95) so I feel like I have some allegiance to this brewery. For better or worse, I try my best to review things fairy without bias.

I was at the local beer store this past weekend, with the intention of loading up on pumpkin, fall, and Oktoberfest beers. One of the first ones I saw was this beer, The Great Pumpkin. How could I not buy a beer named “The Great Pumpkin?” The cartoon for which this beer is named is one of my favorites. I college my philosophy professor even had us do a study into The Great Pumpkin. I can’t remember the reason for the study, but I do remember liking it. I digress.

The Great Pumpkin pours a nice burnt orange color with a thin white head. This beer is also crystal clear. This baby rocks in at 8% and the label reads it as an imperial pumpkin ale. I guess this goes along with Clipper City’s Heavy Seas line of big beers. The label also says, “beer brewed with pumpkin and spices.”

The nose on this imperial ale smells very much like a pumpkin pie. The spices are distant, but present. There is some sweetness there as well. I didn’t get any pumpkin meat like what you can find in some pumpkin beers. I also didn’t notice any heat in this imperial offering. On the first taste those distant spices come rushing up and kick you in the face. They are a bit strong, but not totally overwhelming. There is a nice pumpkin pie finish to the beer along with some heat.

This one is a slightly different pumpkin ale than what you normally see. There are not a lot of imperial pumpkin ales out there right now and this one does a pretty good job at helping to define the “style.” It is a drinkable beer but the spices are a bit heavy handed in my eyes. Grab it while you can and be careful, these babies only come in 22 oz bottles. (more…)

Beer Review #78 Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout

Today’s pumpkin beer comes from Cape Ann Brewing Company out of Gloucester, Ma. Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout’s label depicts the towns famous statue dedicated to those who lost their lives fishing. I’m a bit of a statue freak (I love how they are cast and built and all of that) and the Gloucester statue is really a piece of art. Anyway, this is a beer review, not a statue review.

Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout pours jet black (image that!) with a thin, off-white head. I couldn’t tell if it is clear or not because this beer does not allow light to pass through it. The nose smells a lot like gingerbread. It has that sweetness to it, but a faint spice that is nice. There were also some pumpkin notes that added to the wonderful aroma.

The taste is very roasty with pumpkin flavor at the end. It was much more of a gingerbread/pumpkin pie combination than your normal pumpkin beer. The spices were not the showcase, the subtle flavors are. This ale is full of flavor and it all balances very nicely. The bottle says that it is a stout brewed with pumpkin and spices but it hits a wonderful harmony with the malt where all three pieces can really shine. This is a really good beer that I would be happy to buy again.

I’ve had a lot of pumpkin beers, but this is unlike anything I’ve had, which might be a reason I really liked it. It is very drinkable, but it is a bit rich. Apparently this beer is brewed under contract with Olde Saratoga Brewing in Saratoga Springs, NY. If you see it around, grab it, I don’t think you will be disappointed. (more…)

Beer Review #77 Hipp-O-Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale

How can you not grab a beer named Hipp-O-Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale? Perhaps that was the same thought that River Horse Brewing Company out of Lambertville, NJ had as well. To make it better, they made a hippopotamus out of pumpkins for the logo. I love it, creativity at its best. I’ve enjoyed a fair number of other River Horse beers with my favorite being their Tripel Horse.

This pumpkin ale pours a cloudy amber color with a thin, off-white head. I should mention that this beer is part of their brewers reserve and is batch 006 to be exact. On the nose I found a lot of pumpkin pie notes. There was a bit of brown sugar and heat in there as well. For a beer that comes in at 9% ABV, the heat wasn’t overwhelming. Again, I think it gets broken up by the spices a bit. The label says that it is “brewed with pumpkin puree and spices.”

On the first taste of Hipp-O-Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale I noticed the heat, and a lot of it. The malt isn’t very prevalent and the spices are there in force.  Think of a normal pumpkin beer and double the spices and you get this beer. They are really out of balance with the rest of the beer. It does have a surprisingly nice aftertaste. This beer is also thick, chewy even.

I found this beer wanting to be really good, but it isn’t there yet. It isn’t balanced enough and the spices and heat come out a bit too much for my liking. I am wondering if I would of waited a few months for the heat to dissipate and the spices to lose their strength if this would of been better. I think the brewers are onto a good recipe, it just needs some tweaking. Maybe lowering the ABV down a bit and thinning the mash out would help, along with backing off of the spices. It has some good reviews on the major beer review sites but it wasn’t for me. Maybe you would like it better. (more…)