Tale of Two Ales: Pumpkin Porter and American Amber

Pumpkin Ales can be love/hate relationship for many craft beer drinkers. Personally, I love all things fall, including pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin scented candles, and … pumpkin beers.  In recent years, the commercial market has been saturated with this fall seasonal, and regrettably many of them are little more than amber ales with pumpkin pie spice bombs. Also, recent trends have them being released in late July and early August…and in Northern Virginia it just feels wrong drinking these with 95F and 95% humidity. Make your own & Toast the Fall Season!

A few things I’ve learned through my experiments with Pumpkin Ales:

  • Mouthfeel is very important, whether you use real pumpkin during the brewing process or not. Thin spicy beers just don’t hit the mark.
    • If you do use pumpkin, Roasting is a great option and its typically added during the Mash
      • If concerned about a stuck sparge, add Rice Hulls to help your lauter.
  • Quality of spicing is paramount, I prefer to crush my own whole spices and mixing them to taste.
    • ***Less is more with spicing. Less than 2tsp is typically enough for 5 gl batch at the end of the boil. If not enough, you can always add more at kegging to taste.
  • Let the malt shine, use high quality malts and don’t overdue the hopping. (I don’t think Pumpkin IPA is going to become a thing…)
  • Experiment with your yeast
    • Some Belgian strains can make a really nice pumpkin beer (saison anyone?), Also, for an interesting take, try German Ale WLP029.

ineedabeer

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“Der Kurbis” Pumpkin Ale 2012 (12 gl Final, 75-Minute boil):

Grain (Mash @ 152-156F for 1 Hour, 1Tsp CaCl2 and 1/4 Tsp CaSO4)

  • 18# British Maris Otter (Crisp)
  • 4# German Vienna
  • 1# Munton’s Dark Crystal (70-80L)
  • 1.66# Belgian Biscuit

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  • Extra: 2# Honey @ 20 min BKO, 1.5 Dark Brown Sugar @ 20 min BKO
  • Spices (Added at end of Boil): 1 tsp whole AllSpice, 1/2 tsp whole clove, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp Pumpkin pie spice
    • Plus 1/4tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice @ Kegging

Hops (37IBU, All Pellet, quantities for 12 gl)

  • 1oz, Columbus, 15% AA, 60 min BKO
  • 2oz, Styrian Goldings, 3.8, 20 min BKO

Extra: Irish Moss, Wyeast Nutrient

Yeast: WLP029 German Ale Yeast (Primary for 9 days)

O.G. 1.066, F.G. 1.013, ~7.1%abv

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“The Great Pumpkin” Porter 2010 (6 gl Final, 75-Minute boil):

Grain (Mash @ 156F for 1 Hour)

  • 10# American 2-Row
  • 2# German Munich,
  • 1# Belgian Biscuit
  • 0.75# Crystal 120L
  • 0.5# Roasted Barley
  • 0.33# Chocolate Malt
  • 0.25# Black Patent

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  • Extra:1.5# Honey @ 20 min BKO, 0.75 Dark Brown Sugar @ 20 min BKO
  • Spices (Added at end of Boil): 1 tsp whole AllSpice, 1/2 tsp whole clove, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Hops (44IBU, All Pellet, quantities for 6gll)

  • 1oz, Perle 15% AA, 60 min BKO
  • 1oz, Willamette, 4.8, 20 min BKO
  • 1oz, Willamette, 4.8, 10 min BKO

Extra: Irish Moss, Wyeast Nutrient

Yeast: WLP002 English Ale (Primary for 9 days)

O.G. 1.064, F.G. 1.012, ~6.9%abv