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Old 10-09-2011, 01:42 PM   #1
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Default Bottled my first pumpkin ale yesterday - things I've learned

1. Pumpkin ale is definitely more of a challenge. I've brewed many many beers and this is the first that has been a tough one to get it all right.

2. I will definitely try containing the pumpkin in a nylon mesh bag with the next batch. I had put it straight into the boil and straight into the fermenter. I'd figured most of it would settle out collect at the bottom. But on bottling day I got concerned and decided to rack into another vessel and what I did was put the tube into a nylon mesh bag to strain the beer. It worked extremely well but holy cow I lost 1.5 gallons of beer to the strained pumpkin trub!! I'm glad I did it though because when the volume started getting lower the fluid coming through the tube was thick and slow moving. Can't imagine if I'd put that in bottles!

3. Some of you may disagree, this is just my personal opinion here, but pumpkin's should probably only be done as full boils. With a partial boil, which is what I did cause I didn't yet have my Blichmann, I found that getting the volume of water correct with all that pumpkin is rather difficult. The pumpkin also seems to suck up a bunch of liquid in the boil thereby making it even harder to figure out before hand. And I found if you just top up after the OG comes out less than what was originally expected. I for one will only be doing this as a full boil from now on (heh, well I'll be doing all full boils anyway). This way I can start off with the preboil volume and not worry about the volume when I add the pumpkin. I also boiled my pumpkin for 30 minutes - the last 30 minutes of the boil. Next time I will still do 30 minutes but I will put it in with 40 minutes left and remove it at 10 minutes left. Reason? -> if the pumpkin takes away extra liquid with it I can top off the brew kettle and still boil for a bit before finishing. This way I can still hit my full 5 gallon final amount.

4. Until I open and drink one of my pumpkins I still don't know if the spice blend was right or enough. I think it is and I used a decent amount, more than most simple recipes use. It smelled amazing during the ferment and tasted amazing when I sampled the OG sample from the hydro and well as a week later when I sampled it. However, after the fermentation finished and I took the FG I didn't seem to taste the spices much at all. Who knows, may be a different story once carbed up and chilled. Either way, it's hard to tell.

So those are my personal findings. Some of you might not have had any issues so this is more of a personal lessons learned thing. But I've definitely learned a lot and know much better how to approach it next time


Rev.

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Old 10-09-2011, 01:53 PM   #2
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As you learned, just like grain and whole hop cones soak up water, so too does pumpkin. Just account for it at the onset or be prepared to have a little less finished product.

As to the spicing, one thing you can do is take a taste just before bottling and adjust your spice level at that point. Always aim for the low side of spices and then at bottling you can make a 'spice tea' and adjust to taste. I bet it will still be a great beer. Enjoy!

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Old 10-09-2011, 01:59 PM   #3
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I put mine in the mash and had no problems. Same amount of water, same amount of trub. I did use rice hulls to keep thinks running smooth. Pumpkin ale may be a brew that's actually easier to make AG.

I cracked my first bottle two days ago and was plesently surpised at how tasty it was. I'd never had a pumpkin brew and didn't know what to expect.

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Old 10-09-2011, 03:23 PM   #4
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didnt read much at all but just putting my advice out there. i did my pumpkin ale a while back and did two batchs. one think i learned is to roast the pumpkin then step with grains before you add to the boil. i made another batch where i just added raw pumpkin straight to the boil and it had a weird appley taste, very strange. GOOD LUCK! i love my pumpkin reciepe

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Old 10-09-2011, 06:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJekyll-HomeBrew View Post
one think i learned is to roast the pumpkin then step with grains before you add to the boil. i made another batch where i just added raw pumpkin straight to the boil and it had a weird appley taste, very strange. GOOD LUCK! i love my pumpkin reciepe
I did bake my pumpkin. It was canned pumpkin (60oz of Libby's) that I mixed in 8oz of brown sugar and baked at 350 for one hour. Problem wasn't the pumpkin or pumpkin flavor, it was mostly the process.


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Old 10-09-2011, 06:21 PM   #6
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I have never done a pumpkin but i would like to soon. Thanks for the advise. seems to make sense.

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Old 10-09-2011, 09:27 PM   #7
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Thanks for the update Rev.

I have my pumpkin contained in a nylon bag sitting in the primary. I will be racking it to secondary next weekend, along with adding some cinnamon sticks and vanilla extract. The brew smelled great on brew day while boiling, but I couldnt really taste much spices when I took the OG. 2 weeks late (today) it seems like the pumpkin flavor is finally coming through a bit.

After adding some vanilla/cinnamon next week, I will determine if I need to add anything at bottling following another taste test. Really hoping this one turns out!

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Old 10-10-2011, 06:28 PM   #8
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I decided to rack to secondary yesterday after my last post.

Added 1Tbsp vanilla and 2 cinnamon sticks soaked in some vodka.

I will taste it again at bottling to fig out what to add more of. Thoughts?

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Old 10-10-2011, 07:14 PM   #9
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if you are doing all grain, consider mashing the pumpkin next time. it will convert some of the sugars and you won't have to deal with the mess of seperating it later.

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Old 10-10-2011, 08:14 PM   #10
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When I did my pumpkin spiced ale I used fresh pumpkin and cubed it to between 1-2". Then I baked it for 1.5 hours at 350°. I also placed about 2 cups of water and the pumpkin absorbed most of that. After the baking process the pumpkin was much softer but not so soft that it didn't stay together in the grain bag.

It seems that most of the issues I read about in various pumpkin beer threads is from the people using canned pumpkin.

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