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