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Old 07-22-2011, 06:50 PM   #1
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Default All Grain Pumpkin Ale Problems - Help!

I'm having some issues with a pumpkin ale that I'm brewing. Here's a little background (sorry, this is going to be long).

I'm pretty new to all grain brewing; this was my second batch of all grain (have done a bunch of extract and partial mash in the past). I tried a pumpkin ale recipe that I found on one of these forums and scaled it down from 5 gals to 3 gals (don't have a big enough brew pot to handle a 5 gal boil). From what I can tell so far, the results have been pretty awful.

I added canned pumpkin, a yam that I baked in the oven and the grains to my mash. Added brown sugar, hops, and pumpkin pie spice to the wort during hte boil. O.G. came out at about 1.085. After 5 days in primary with what seemed to be a pretty healthy fermentation, I racked into my secondary, took another gravity measurement and taste tested. That's where the problems come in....

The beer has strong alcohol flavors and almost no pumpkin flavor at all. The gravity reading that I took today was about 1.01. That doesn't seem right.

My theory is that my mash temperatures were off and I didn't get enough (or any?) fermentable sugars from my grains. The original high gravity reading was mostly precipitate from the pumpkin, yams, hops, etc., and my only fermentable sugar was the brown sugar I added during the boil. Hence, very little character other than alcohol and the quick change from 1.085 OG to 1.01 today.

Does that make sense? Can anyone with a little more experience with all grain comment? I think this batch is a lost cause, but I'd like to try to avoid the same mistakes again.

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Old 07-22-2011, 06:53 PM   #2
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What were your mash temperatures, and how long did you mash for?

I could see 1.010 after 5 days.

I've never used pumpkin or yams in a beer or mash so I can't speak to their fermentability.

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Old 07-22-2011, 06:53 PM   #3
dml263
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Default All Grain Pumpkin Ale Problems - Help!

I'm having some issues with a pumpkin ale that I'm brewing. Here's a little background (sorry, this is going to be long).

I'm pretty new to all grain brewing; this was my second batch of all grain (have done a bunch of extract and partial mash in the past). I tried a pumpkin ale recipe that I found on one of these forums and scaled it down from 5 gals to 3 gals (don't have a big enough brew pot to handle a 5 gal boil). From what I can tell so far, the results have been pretty awful.

I added canned pumpkin, a yam that I baked in the oven and the grains to my mash. Added brown sugar, hops, and pumpkin pie spice to the wort during hte boil. O.G. came out at about 1.085. After 5 days in primary with what seemed to be a pretty healthy fermentation, I racked into my secondary, took another gravity measurement and taste tested. That's where the problems come in....

The beer has strong alcohol flavors and almost no pumpkin flavor at all. The gravity reading that I took today was about 1.01. That doesn't seem right.

My theory is that my mash temperatures were off and I didn't get enough (or any?) fermentable sugars from my grains. The original high gravity reading was mostly precipitate from the pumpkin, yams, hops, etc., and my only fermentable sugar was the brown sugar I added during the boil. Hence, very little character other than alcohol and the quick change from 1.085 OG to 1.01 today.

Does that make sense? Can anyone with a little more experience with all grain comment? I think this batch is a lost cause, but I'd like to try to avoid the same mistakes again.

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Old 07-22-2011, 06:58 PM   #4
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Why did you feel the need to post this in two different forums?

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Old 07-22-2011, 07:01 PM   #5
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Materials like pumkpin flesh and hops don't contribute to your hydrometer reading. Only soluble materials affect the hydro reading. So, the hydro reading is the dissolved sugars from something.

Your OG measurement was probably correct. Maybe you could post your recipe here. The final gravity FG looks about right if you had a bunch of brown sugar in there. The reason you smell alcohol is because your beer has a lot of it in there! About 10% ABV if those gravities are correct.

I'm surprised you don't taste the spices. When during the boil did you add them?

What temp did you ferment at?

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Old 07-22-2011, 07:04 PM   #6
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we would need to know the exact amounts of each ingredient to know for sure, but there is little chance that you added enough brown sugar to 3 gallons of wort to yield an OG of 1.085. Also, unless you used a ginormous yeast starter, and used bionic yeast, I doubt you got 1.085 down to 1.010 in 5 days. one of those readings just can't be right.

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Old 07-22-2011, 07:08 PM   #7
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I have had beers over 1.090 ferment out in 5 days so I don't think there is any issues there. That doesn't mean they are done and I leave them on the primary yeast cake for another few weeks to clean up. The alcohol flavors are probably due to fermentation temps, or the brown sugar depending on quantity used.

I would have left it in the primary for a lot longer if you had easily detectable fusels.

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Old 07-22-2011, 07:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IXVolt View Post
What were your mash temperatures, and how long did you mash for?

I could see 1.010 after 5 days.

I've never used pumpkin or yams in a beer or mash so I can't speak to their fermentability.
I mashed for about an hour at about 150 F

Quote:
Originally Posted by tasq View Post
Why did you feel the need to post this in two different forums?
First time posting on these forums and I wasn't sure which would be the appropriate topic to post a troubleshooting question in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by passedpawn View Post
Materials like pumkpin flesh and hops don't contribute to your hydrometer reading. Only soluble materials affect the hydro reading. So, the hydro reading is the dissolved sugars from something.

Your OG measurement was probably correct. Maybe you could post your recipe here. The final gravity FG looks about right if you had a bunch of brown sugar in there. The reason you smell alcohol is because your beer has a lot of it in there! About 10% ABV if those gravities are correct.

I'm surprised you don't taste the spices. When during the boil did you add them?

What temp did you ferment at?
Here's the recipe I used. I scaled down a 5 gallon recipe to 2.5-3 gallons, but added a bit more grain because the first all grain batch I did was very inefficient and came out way too low OG

Mash:
7lbs pale 2 row malt
1/2 lb special roast
1/2 lb crystal (60)
1 can pumpkin (1 lb 13oz)
1 yam (~1 lb)

mashed for 1 hour at about 150 F

Boil:
1/2 oz hallertauer (60 min)
9 oz brown sugar (60 min)
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (15 minutes)
1/2 oz hallertauer (5 min)


Based on everybody's comments, it sounds like I just used more grain and brown sugar than I should have and came out with too much alcohol. I used a different mash tun and lauter tun than the first all grain batch that I tried, so I guess trying to add extra grain to compensate for inefficiency of my former set-up was a mistake.

Thanks a lot for the help.
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Old 07-22-2011, 07:23 PM   #9
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How much pumpkin/yam did you add? I put two 28 ounce cans of spiced pumpkin in my last pumkin ale mash, and it turned out tastings like friggin pumpkin pie. But that's 56 ounces...it was ALOT of pumpkin.

I also have no idea if yam imparts flavor the same way pumpkin does.

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Old 07-22-2011, 07:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Germelli1 View Post
I have had beers over 1.090 ferment out in 5 days so I don't think there is any issues there. That doesn't mean they are done and I leave them on the primary yeast cake for another few weeks to clean up. The alcohol flavors are probably due to fermentation temps, or the brown sugar depending on quantity used.

I would have left it in the primary for a lot longer if you had easily detectable fusels.
Thanks for the response.

I used about 9 oz of brown sugar in the boil and 9 lbs of grain for the mash. I think I got a little overzealous with my grains: if I scaled the 5 gal recipe to 3 gals directly, it would've called for 7lbs of grain, but I added a little more because the OG of my last all grain batch came out way too low and I was worried about efficiency. I built a better mash tun/lauter tun set-up between that batch and this one, so I think that extra grain was unnecessary.

I already racked into secondary unfortunately, but I'll keep the longer primary fermentation in mind if I run into this type of issue again.

Thanks again for the help.
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