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Old 10-04-2011, 10:48 PM   #1
tremorfan
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Default Using a pumpkin as a fermentor?

Hey guys,

I'm a relative newbie (I've only brewed 5 or 6 times), but I have an idea that I just can't get out of my head. I want to incorporate my homebrewing into our Halloween decorations, and I'm thinking about buying a huge pumpkin and using it as a fermentor for a Pumpkin Ale.

First of all, I know that your typical jack-o-lantern pumpkins aren't the right kind for cooking with, so I plan to either bake some pie pumpkins or buy canned pumpkin for the flavoring. I just want to know if it's feasible to hollow out a pumpkin and ferment in it. I'm really excited about the decorative possibilities (creative airlock with spare tubing and food colored water bubbling away, etc.).

I'm also interested in whether a pumpkin might provide sufficient insulation to ferment outside (by protecting the beer from temperature swings while maintaining a relatively cool average temp.)

But what problems can you foresee with this?

This is the point where I place my youthful inexperience and naivete at the feet of your collective brewing experience and wait to have my idea shot full of holes.

Thanks in advance!

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Old 10-04-2011, 10:50 PM   #2
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I have no idea if that would work or not but it sounds awesome! Please post pics if you decide to go ahead with it

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Old 10-04-2011, 10:50 PM   #3
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I swear I've seen pictures of someone do this once . . .

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Old 10-04-2011, 10:54 PM   #4
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Only problem I can really imagine is finding a pumpkin large enough to hold 5 gallons... Maybe a mini batch?? Also, you'd probably want a real good yeast starter to make sure they'd be able to handle any of the nasties in the pumpkin. Is it possible to sanitize a pumpkin with starsan??

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Old 10-04-2011, 10:54 PM   #5
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http://www.sloshspot.com/blog/02-25-...Easy-Steps-125
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Old 10-04-2011, 10:56 PM   #6
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I would think it could be done with a very fresh pumpkin, but i would not leave it in there more than a week. i think it would rot quickly

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Old 10-04-2011, 10:59 PM   #7
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" what is now in front of you may now be referred to as a ‘Tunkin’ " - That's awesome!

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Old 10-04-2011, 11:00 PM   #8
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I saw this when I googled around, but they didn't really address any difficulties they had in the process. I want to know things that might go wrong.

Sanitation was one that I had considered. I also wasn't sure if I could get the pumpkin air-tight after cleaning it out. And the insulation versus my typical BetterBottle carboy was a factor I wanted some input on. Is fermenting outside with 30+ degree temperature swings ALWAYS a beer-killer, or would the insulation negate that? Would the insulation cause the beer to heat up too much from fermentation?

These are the kinds of things I'm worried about, but the optimist in me is saying "Just go for it!"
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Old 10-04-2011, 11:04 PM   #9
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I agree with your optimist, if you try a real simple ale and it goes bad, oh well. Otherwise you will have one sweet project around the house, a conversation starter for sure!

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Old 10-04-2011, 11:04 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rancidcrabtree View Post
Only problem I can really imagine is finding a pumpkin large enough to hold 5 gallons... Maybe a mini batch?? Also, you'd probably want a real good yeast starter to make sure they'd be able to handle any of the nasties in the pumpkin. Is it possible to sanitize a pumpkin with starsan??
I was trying to decide if starsan would work, or if I could maybe use steam/boiling water. I don't see why starsan wouldn't work, but like I said, I'm certainly no expert on these things.

Also, I know lots of fruits and vegetables give off ethylene gases that help to ripen them. Do pumpkins do this? How might that affect the beer?
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