Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pumpkin Brew Day

I love pumpkin beer. Really. I mean, I luuuurrrvve it. I look forward to the fall and the first pumpkin beer of the season. And when I lived in Tucson I could get as much of it as I wanted. I could just go down to Plaza Liquor, where they sell hundreds of different brews, by the bottle, and knock myself out. Literally.

But now I live in Washington, where all the liquor stores are state-owned and focus more on actual liquor than on beer and wine and where the grocery stores, even the better ones, just don't have the selection I crave. So far I have seen only two pumpkin beers for sale here: Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale (owned by Coors) and Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale (owned by Anheuser-Busch). The beer snob in me finds this simply unacceptable.

What to do, what to do?

Since I started learning how to brew this summer the obvious answer is to make my own damn pumpkin beer. So I am.

A warning: I have only just started learning how to brew. So far I have only made two beers, each from a kit, plus today's pumpkin ale. I found the recipe called Thunderstruck Pumpkin Ale, by Yuri Rage, here. Credit where it's due. Because I'm so new I am doing the extract rather than the all-grain version.

So how's it done?

Well, first you take 60 oz. pure pumpkin puree

and spread it out on a cookie sheet.

Then you bake it at 350 degrees for an hour.

I know, it looks pretty much the same, right? Notice the difference in color, though. Now that pumpkin is carmelized! While you're doing that you take your flavoring grains,

and put them in a mesh bag, which you steep in 155 degree water for about 45 minutes.

Once that's done you remove the grain bag and bring the pot to a boil, then you add the light malt extract

and the baked pumpkin and stir like crazy until it comes back to a boil, at which point you add your bittering hops

and start your timer.

After boiling for 50 minutes you add the Irish moss

which is apparently some kind of dried seaweed that helps to clarify the beer, and because of all that pumpkin puree this beer will need clarifying. Then you boil for 10 more minutes. Then you chill the mixture, which is called the wort. You can chill the wort any number of ways. I put the pot on ice and add enough cold filtered water to make 5 gallons. When the wort is chilled you strain it into the primary fermenter

aka Big White Bucket, add your yeast, seal it up, pop in the water-lock and wait. In two weeks I'll transfer it to a secondary fermenter, add the flavoring spices, and wait again. Two weeks after that I'll bottle it, and two weeks after that I'll taste it to see how it's doing. It will probably need to age a little bit more. And hopefully it won't suck. I think it'll be pretty good. I'll keep you posted.


crashcourse said...

There are two places in Portland to go for beer: Belmont Station (which is on se Stark) and John's Market (which is in Multnomah Village). They have a beautiful selection of beers.

I'm am super impressed with your pumpkin beer making. The mister has been collecting beer brewing supplies and talking about brewing for over a year now. I'm jealous.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you make it sound so easy. I too am a beer snob and was absolutely loving being in Germany for the past 2 weeks.

I can't wait to hear how your brew turns out!