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Old 02-21-2012, 03:03 PM   #1
chimchim5040
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Default Never Make Your Pumpkin Beer Like This!

I've had a good run with all grain batches.... never had a stuck sparge, stuck fermentation, or any contamination. Now my streak of 14 batches is broken sadly.

I normally use pie pumpkin chunks in a grain bag, which worked very well before. In fact, my primary fermentation is usually quite vigorous and I have to change my blowoff jug water every day for the first few days.

I did some research on pumpkin beer before creating the last batch and decided to try canned pumpkin instead. I caramelized as usual in the oven after spreading on cookie sheets. The info I found on this site (I think it was this site) said that some people put the caramelized pumpkin into the mash instead of the boil. I did this and proceeded normally.

However, the fermentation was very weak and only lasted a couple of days. I was expecting around 8% ABV, but only ended up with 3%....

I transferred to secondary and added my bourbon-soaked oak spirals anyway, thinking I would salvage this batch somehow. After six weeks or so, I decided to add another batch of identical yeast in case the old yeast were tired or dormant. This did not produce any activity, leading me to believe that there just isn't any sugar left to utilize.

Did using caramelized canned pumpkin in the mash kill my sugar extraction? This is my only conclusion based on my limited knowledge.

If this is my problem, can I improve the beer by adding some boiled DME to bring up the gravity again? I'm not concerned about altering the flavor at this point, I just want to bottle this stuff already!



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Old 02-21-2012, 03:08 PM   #2
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That's weird. I did a pumpkin ale last Fall using a similar method and it was one of the best beers I've brewed. My beer was only about 5-6% though. Maybe try repitching with some new yeast?

This is the recipe I used in case you are curious: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f76/samhain-pumpkin-ale-140674/

EDIT: Sorry I missed the part where you said you already pitched new yeast.



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Old 02-21-2012, 04:25 PM   #3
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Thanks for the feedback on using canned pumpkin in the mash. Maybe I screwed up something else in order to have such low efficiency.

I guess I could use Beer Tools to calculate how much DME to add to my beer.... anyone have thoughts on this? I don't have too much room left in my Better Bottle. I can probably only add .5 gal of liquid at most.

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Old 02-21-2012, 05:12 PM   #4
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Sorry to hear about your brewing woes. I've been using the pumpkin ale recipe on this thread:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/schlafly-pumpkin-ale-clone-attempt-sorta-201624/

It advocates putting the pumpkin in the strike water and it has worked very well for me. I used a fresh pumpkin that I had baked in the oven, ran through the food processor, and added the puree to the strike water.

As for how to "fix" your current brew...that's a tough one. There is something called Amylase enzymes that might help. But it is a controversial fix at best.

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Old 02-21-2012, 05:58 PM   #5
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If you only knew where Amylase came from

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Old 02-21-2012, 07:55 PM   #6
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Can anyone tell me whether my "fix" is likely to work? I don't know what else to do..... I spent a lot of time and effort making this batch and I can't bear to toss it out.

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Old 02-21-2012, 09:59 PM   #7
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You don't really include enough info to help diagnose what is going on. Pumpkin is problematic (as you seem to know) for a variety of reasons. Because it is goopy, it tends to stick spurges and cause low efficiency. A lot of brewers will add yeast hulls to try and improve sparging. Also, because pumpkin doesn't have amylase enzymes, a mash with pumpkin may take more time to convert, especially if you are using a base malt with low diastatic power. A lot of pumpkin ale brewers choose six row because if it's high diastatic power.

Answers to the following questions will be helpful:

Did it sparge normally?

What was your original gravity?

Did you do an iodine test at the end of the mash?

Did you aerate the wort prior to pitching yeast?

Did the canned pumpkin contain preservatives?

With answers to the above questions, we may be able to help more.

Adam

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Old 02-22-2012, 01:09 AM   #8
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A few more Qs to add to Adam's list:

At what temp did you mash?

For how long did you mash?

Did you use rice hulls or yeast hulls?

You mention "adding pie pumpkin chunks". To what are you referring? Chunks of a baked pumpkin pie? Where are you adding these chunks? Boil?

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Old 02-22-2012, 12:11 PM   #9
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Answers to the following questions will be helpful:

Did it sparge normally?

yes

What was your original gravity?
not sure, but it matched the recipe in Brew Tools

Did you do an iodine test at the end of the mash?
No, but I followed my usual procedure which has produced great results about 12 or 13 times before

Did you aerate the wort prior to pitching yeast?
Yes. I also pitched a second batch of yeast a few weeks later with no effect.

Did the canned pumpkin contain preservatives?
no

With answers to the above questions, we may be able to help more.

I mashed for the usual 90 minutes at around 152-153 deg and I did use rice hulls.

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Old 02-22-2012, 12:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barrooze View Post
A few more Qs to add to Adam's list:

At what temp did you mash?

For how long did you mash?

Did you use rice hulls or yeast hulls?

You mention "adding pie pumpkin chunks". To what are you referring? Chunks of a baked pumpkin pie? Where are you adding these chunks? Boil?
I was referring to "pie pumpkin" chunks. Pie pumpkins are smaller and are mostly flesh with no seeds...


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