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Old 07-21-2013, 03:50 PM   #1
joenearboston
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Default Pumpkin Ale question

Never brewed pumpkin ale, would like to know whether adding pumpkin is a "must have" or "nice to have" for making a great pumpkin ale.

A lot of other forum posts suggest that the pumpkin spices (cinnamon, all-spice, nutmeg) contribute mostly to the flavor and that adding roasted pumpkin to the mash with rice hulls can help flavor a little, but isn't required.

I'm after a p-ale that that is crisp with a nice pumpkin twang, but not over powering. I want this to be somewhat sessionable - like a pale ale - so that someone can reach for that second pint and not go running for a lager.

Also, another question, anyone ever try adding lots of hops to a pumpkin ale or is that going to clash? I know its subjective, just looking for opinions.

Thanks!



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Old 07-21-2013, 04:00 PM   #2
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"Pumpkin twang" most likely refers to the bite you get from spices. I'm not at all a fan of spiced beer, but the best ones I've had used no actual pumpkin.



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Old 07-21-2013, 04:28 PM   #3
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My opinion: the spices give you 90% of the flavor. The pumpkin gives you a little flavor but mostly texture / mouthfeel.

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Old 07-21-2013, 04:38 PM   #4
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Do the spices and call it good. Pumpkin is messy and adds mouth feel, which a session beer should be relatively light on.

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Old 07-21-2013, 04:44 PM   #5
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Just my opinion but I think that if there is no pumpkin, it shouldn't be called a pumpkin ale.

Maybe spiced ale or holiday ale.

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Old 07-21-2013, 06:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bleme
Just my opinion but I think that if there is no pumpkin, it shouldn't be called a pumpkin ale. Maybe spiced ale or holiday ale.
I sort of agree with this.
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Old 07-21-2013, 06:52 PM   #7
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My vote is for "nice to have". The pumpkin does add mouthfeel, and like others have mentioned, most of the flavor comes from the spice. I think if you are looking for "crisp", you may or may not want the mouthfeel from the pumpkin. Hops? I enjoy a pumpkin ale that is balanced, not one flavor overpowering the other. I do not enjoy too much bittering hops or has too much hop aroma. I use stuff like Magnum, Saaz, and next year's batch is getting Brambling Cross. I do not like C type hops in pumpkin ales. But, that is just how I like my pumpkin ales.

----EDIT---- Be careful with the cloves if you are mixing your own spices. A little goes a long way, and I made a batch that I put too much cloves in and it made my tongue numb... I use less than 1/8tsp in a 3 gallon batch. Nowadays, its barely a dash of clove.

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Old 08-01-2013, 06:29 PM   #8
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While I agree with most of you, the pumpkin adds more mouthfeel and texture than spice flavor, I will also argue that the texture and mouthfeel is a really big boost to a good pumpkin ale. I personally find it a necessity for me. One thing of note, you will get much more actual pumpkin note in your beer if you use pie pumpkins rather than carving pumpkins. Pie pumpkins are smaller tastier versions of pumpkins... can be found in many markets and are out way before the carving ones.

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Old 08-01-2013, 07:41 PM   #9
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i used 2 cans of pumpkin and bake them on a cookie sheet a bit.. i also use a handful of other spices and after 3 times brewing i think i tweaked it a good amount.. let me know and i can possibly find the spices i used

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Old 08-02-2013, 01:49 AM   #10
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My 2 cents:

I brewed one last year (and plan to do another again here very soon).

I also agree that if you are going to call it a pumpkin beer, you ought to at least use some real pumpkin. After doing some research on this site, it seemed like the canned stuff was pretty messy and difficult to work with. At the time, I was doing all-extract. I ended cutting up a pie pumpkin, baking it in the oven, and then putting the pieces in a muslin bag to use with my steeping grains. At the very least, the rind on the pieces lended a really nice orange color to my final product. I even reserved the 'drippings' leftover from baking the pumpkin as a 'reduction' to add to the final minutes of the boil, in the hopes of retaining some 'gourdy' flavor. I also added some McCormick pumpkin spice (2 tsp) at flame-out.

Where I messed up, was adding too much extract at bottling. I put in 4 oz of 'pumpkin pie' extract from Olive Nation along with 2 tbsp. of double-fold vanilla. I can confidently say that this was too much. The result was drinkable, but too extract-y. (I actually didn't get much of the vanilla, mostly pumpkin pie.) I had also used 8 oz of lactose, and the result was also a little too cloying. I saved a couple bottles so I could see how it changed with age, but overall it was a fail.

I now am doing partial-mashes, so this time some of the pumpkin is going into the mash with some rice hulls. I may even reserve some 'steeping' chunks for bringing it up to a boil, because I liked the color.

I'm still thinking I need some extract for the pie flavor, but this year I am going 2oz with no vanilla. I'll still use the spice at flame-out.


Also, I think your hops question is an intriguing one. Last year I had used Magnum (1/2oz) for bittering and nothing for flavor/aroma. I was thinking maybe this year going with some Czech Saaz (or even Crystal) for flavor/aroma, since they are supposed to have 'spicy' profiles. Or would it interfere with you pumpkin spice? What do folks think of this?



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