Archive for October, 2010

Art of Brewing: Spiced Pumpkin Ale

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The summer of 2010 was hot and humid here in Southeastern Wisconsin. But the first weekend of September brought cooler temperatures with highs in the 60s. I was inspired by the cooler Autumn-like air that was ushered in on Labor Day weekend, so I felt the timing was perfect to brew a pumpkin ale. Besides, the ale wouldn’t be ready until the middle of October. With homebrewing, you kind of have to plan these things a little in advance.

Brewing Day

The Ingredients

The grains, malt, yeast, and hops were purchased from the Northern Brewer in Milwaukee. The cinnamon sticks & Pumpkin Pie Spice were from Penzey’s, and the pumpkin pie mix and honey I grabbed at the grocery store. The extract/partial grain recipe called for:

  • 6.6 lbs of amber malt
  • 1 lb crystal malt
  • 1 oz Willamette hops
  • 1 oz Styrian Goldings hops (finishing)
  • 2 lbs of Libbey’s all-natural pumpkin
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 lb of honey
  • Wyeast 1728 Scottish Yeast

Steeping the Grains

Adding the malt and Willamette hops

Adding the Styrian Goldings hops, honey, cinnamon and Penzey's Pumpkin Pie Spice during the final 15 minutes of the boil.

After the wort cooled down I transferred it to a 5 gallon carboy and pitched the yeast.


Patiently Waiting

After the yeast was added the wort fermented for about 10 days.  Once the fermentation slowed down I transferred it to a second carboy to sit for another two weeks. At the end of September I bottled my beer and waited another 3 weeks for it to “bottle condition”.  At the time of bottling, I added priming sugar to the beer, so that once it was capped any active yeast cells that were left would continue feed on the sugar, thus producing gas and naturally carbonating the beer in the bottle.

The Finished Product

Spiced Pumpkin Ale

The pumpkin ale’s appearance is an unfiltered cloudy dark copper with a khaki-colored head.  The spicy nose consists of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and pumpkin. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied with a soft carbonation around the edges. The initial taste is similar to what was expected in the nose: cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove are all apparent up front.  The cinnamon is carried throughout and long into the finish even. The pumpkin flavor arrives midway. You can detect some of the honey that didn’t ferment out in the mildly dry finish.  This beer is spiced yet not overly sweet.

If there’s one knock against it, I’d say the cinnamon comes across a little too strong.  I think with the addition of the Penzey’s Pumpkin Pie Spice, which had cinnamon in it already, I would cut back to only one or two sticks of cinnamon instead of three.  Also, if I brew this again next year, I’m thinking of adding a vanilla bean to the fermentation. Overall, this turned out to be an enjoyable pumpkin ale that’s perfect for the Fall, Halloween, and at Thanksgiving dinner.

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