Author Topic: Pumpkin Beer  (Read 1827 times)

Offline smitty

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Pumpkin Beer
« on: August 16, 2010, 08:52:55 PM »
First, a little background.  I've been homebrewing for about a year, (well, one year and a half, but I don't count my deployment) started off with basically two cans from a beer kit, and am up to partial extract brewing (I really enjoy the brewers best kits, but I supplement with some Irish Moss and liquid yeast). 

I am totally psyched to brew up some pumpkin beer this fall.  However, not only do I not have the necessary equipment to go all grain, but I don't feel I'm ready yet from a general knowledge/technical prowess perspective. 

Should I just try to brew up an ale, and add pumpkin and spices?  I have been looking forward to this for like, six months, but I'm not sure of the best way to tackle this with my limited knowledge/experience and equipment.  I would greatly appreciate any suggestions or advice.  Thank you.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Pumpkin Beer
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2010, 09:24:46 PM »
I would just use pumpkin pie spices and dose it into a strong malty amber colored ale that is lightly hopped.  Using actual pumpkin doesn't add too much to the flavor, and is quite a pain.  You can add the spices to the end of the boil, but use restraint - there are easy ways to increase the impact of the spices after the fact, not so easy to decrease their impact.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline dbeechum

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Re: Pumpkin Beer
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2010, 09:27:11 PM »
Doing an amber ale with spices is actually the way most professional breweries go.

Truth of the matter is when you say "pumpkin" to most people they're thinking "pumpkin pie" and that's mostly a mix of those classic pumpkin pie spices.

If you want to go with using pumpkin, the best thing to do is roast a ton of pie pumpkins. Get em good and mushy and caramelized. Cut the flesh up and mix with some hot water and crushed pale malt. Let that steep around 150F for an hour and then strain through a colander lined with cheese cloth. Rinse with some more hot water and add the extract to that. (aka do the traditional steeped grains method with a bunch of sticky pumpkin flesh in the mix)

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Offline theDarkSide

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Re: Pumpkin Beer
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2010, 04:47:32 AM »
Pumpkins in the mash....one of the reasons rice hulls were invented.  I think the neighbors chickens are going to go nuts over this batch of spent grains.
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Pumpkin Beer
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2010, 05:29:55 AM »
I've done pumpkin in the mash and pumpkin in the boil (!).  I actually liked the flavor (and color) better when it was in the boil, but it makes for handling challenges.

I used the plain canned pumpkin, put it in a large baking dish and roasted it to caramelize it and develop more flavor.  I think that is part of the pie flavor that we expect, not just the spices.

(I know Tom Schmidlin is going to be asking himself whether I'm goofing on him again trying to get him to put pumpkins in the boil. I love those kind of answers...)
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Offline jfin

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Re: Pumpkin Beer
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2010, 05:56:44 AM »
I've done a couple pumpkin beers(extract and mash/extract),  I used fresh pumpkin, baked it first and added it to160* water and left it overnight (I ran out of time, I have three rug rats).  I strained off the pumpkin and used the pumpkin water added spice at the end of the boil.  Good luck   

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Pumpkin Beer
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2010, 08:15:18 AM »
I've brewed a pumpkin ale every year for a long time.  I think there was only once or twice at the very beginning that I used actual pumpkins and roasted them.

I typically use canned pumpkin.  Last year I used pumpkin pie mix, as it was purchased by mistake and I didn't realize it until I was ready to add it.  I do a partial mash and include the pumpkin.

Last year's batch turned out to be one of the better ones of recent years.

I like the idea of roasting the canned pumpkin to carmelize it and may try that this year.

Also, Tom is correct about going easy on the spices.  You can always add more in the fermenter or the keg.

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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Pumpkin Beer
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2010, 10:00:30 AM »
(I know Tom Schmidlin is going to be asking himself whether I'm goofing on him again trying to get him to put pumpkins in the boil. I love those kind of answers...)
I've heard of people boiling it, but I'd be worried about it - I don't know how much pectin pumpkin has, but it has some.  Generally we don't boil fruit for that reason (among others), but I'm guessing pumpkin has less pectin than an equal weight of blueberries.

How long did you boil for?  My kettle has a false bottom so I'm thinking chunks of sugar pumpkin roasted in the oven should be stopped as long as I don't boil them too long.  Hmmm . . .

I think I'd boil the roasted pumpkin in a pot on my stove, then dump it into a collander to strain it, take the liquid and add that to the boil.  It would still be a pain, but I think it would be a lot easier than doing it in the kettle.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline guido

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Re: Pumpkin Beer
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2010, 10:23:10 AM »
The boil is the way to go.  I roast crook neck squash, not jack o lantern pumpkins, in an oven at 350F until they are soft.  I sprinkle some brown sugar on them for carmelization while they are roasting.  I then peel the skin off and dice the pumpkin into cubes.  I've found that putting it in a large, fine mesh bag keeps the mess to a minimum.  Figure on about 4 pounds for a 5 gallon batch.
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Offline weithman5

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Re: Pumpkin Beer
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2010, 10:27:28 AM »
good luck finding canned pumpkin yet. has anyone ever tried taking pumpkin seeds and toasting those, then running them through a mill and in to the mash?  i am curious but way too lazy to try this year.  maybe next
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Offline andrew

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Re: Pumpkin Beer
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2010, 11:27:19 AM »
good luck finding canned pumpkin yet. has anyone ever tried taking pumpkin seeds and toasting those, then running them through a mill and in to the mash?  i am curious but way too lazy to try this year.  maybe next


Last year I roasted the seeds in the oven until golden, crushed them, and added them to the mash. Plan on doing that again this year. I had read that the oil from the seeds may kill the head retention but it seemed fine... and tasted good, so I was pleased with the results.
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Offline mroakley

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Re: Pumpkin Beer
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2010, 12:18:03 PM »
I experimented years ago with sunflower seeds.  There was a point where too much did significantly affect head retention.  Not the same thing as pumpkin seeds, but I would be willing to bet there is also a point where you can use too much.  Glad to hear your beer came out great andrew!

Personally, I would only use real pumpkin in a beer just to say that I made a beer with real pumpkin.  I can't tell you what a pumpkin actually tastes like, though I know the spices generally associated with pumpkin and, in particular, pumpkin pie.  That's why I use a premixed combo of pumpkin pie spice and add at kegging.  It's way easy to overdo it so if anyone tries it, go easy and test on a sample first until you get what you're looking for and then add to your full size batch accordingly.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Pumpkin Beer
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2010, 12:21:37 PM »
good luck finding canned pumpkin yet. has anyone ever tried taking pumpkin seeds and toasting those, then running them through a mill and in to the mash?  i am curious but way too lazy to try this year.  maybe next
You can get it from Amazon, probably other places:
http://www.amazon.com/Farmers-Market-Foods-Organic-15-Ounce/dp/B000HDI5O8

You can use lots of different kinds of squash to make pumpkin pie and it really tastes very similar, so if you found other kinds of canned or fresh squash you could give it a try.

Zucchini beer anyone?

I think I just threw up in my mouth.  Tiny bit.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline smitty

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Re: Pumpkin Beer
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2010, 03:56:16 AM »
Awesome.  Thanks for the advice everyone.

Offline weithman5

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Re: Pumpkin Beer
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2010, 08:36:25 AM »

Last year I roasted the seeds in the oven until golden, crushed them, and added them to the mash.

I knew someone would have.  I will have to grow pumpkins next year, i used too a lot when kids were little.  how much did you add to your bill?
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