Author Topic: Southern Tier Pumpking Imperial Pumpkin Ale  (Read 3694 times)

Offline phillamb168

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Southern Tier Pumpking Imperial Pumpkin Ale
« on: May 17, 2011, 05:22:57 AM »
Bought a bottle of this from my Amsterdam connection. LOVED it. Too much alcohol for me, so I'll probably tone it down from imperial for my clone, but what I'm trying to figure out is the spice blend. Found this on the NB forum:

Quote
There was no way to contact the brewer by email on their website, so I took a stab at an email addy (I knew the head brewers name) and he sent me the recipe for it. It's 95% 2 row and 5% 60l with 1 pound of pumpkin flesh per 31 gallons and .12 oz of ginger, cinnamon, clove, and vanilla per 10 gallons (don't quote me on the spices yet, I have the email at work and have to check it). I reduced the spices for our quantities. I'd like to try to make this but 5 gallons would be way too much for me. Maybe I'll just make 3

I swear there's some lactose in there too, but perhaps that's just the vanilla coming through. Anybody tried this before? Ideas?

For a 5-gallon batch, the spices seem to be:
1.7 gr each of ginger, cinnamon, clove and vanilla (guess scraped bean pod here) added to secondary. I'd probably add 1.7g of nutmeg too, just to be safe.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2011, 05:54:00 AM by phillamb168 »
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Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Southern Tier Pumpking Imperial Pumpkin Ale
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2011, 03:33:21 PM »
I swear there's some lactose in there too, but perhaps that's just the vanilla coming through. Anybody tried this before? Ideas?

Pumpkin beers are a common fall seasonal in my part of the world and I'm familiar with Pumpking because ST isn't that far from where I live.

The recipe you mentioned sounds right, except that there doesn't seem to be any hops listed, which is a bit odd. Perhaps add 0.5 oz. 5% AA bittering hops for 5 gallons? I don't think that there's any lactose in Pumpking; ST just mashes high and/or uses more crystal to get bigger, sweeter flavors.

You might have trouble getting pumpkin this time of year, especially in Europe. You might have to use canned pumpkin pulp, assuming you can get it. The good news is that pumpkin is a relatively subtle flavor, you can get away with using just pumpkin pie spices and get much the same effect. Alternately, you can use the pulp of any winter squash for your "pumpkin" flavor.

Pumpkin is quite sticky; if you mash with it you'll need to use rice hulls. If you put it in your boil, you'll need to stir constantly to keep it from scorching on the bottom of the kettle.

For spicing, don't put in equal measures of all the spices listed. Be really careful with the clove - a little goes a very long way. It's easy to ruin a spice beer with too much clove flavor. It's also easy to go overboard with cinnamon and nutmeg. Ginger and vanilla you can add more of without problems. The quintessential pumpkin pie spice is allspice, so consider it as well, and consider substituting the slightly more aggressive flavor of mace for the nutmeg. You'll need to play around with various spice blends to find the one you like best. Try to limit your spicing to just 2-4 spices though getting too muddled a spice character.

Randy Mosher has lots of good ideas for working with pumpkin and spices in his book Radical Brewing; check it out for lots more ideas.

Offline phillamb168

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Re: Southern Tier Pumpking Imperial Pumpkin Ale
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2011, 06:15:25 AM »
I swear there's some lactose in there too, but perhaps that's just the vanilla coming through. Anybody tried this before? Ideas?

Pumpkin beers are a common fall seasonal in my part of the world and I'm familiar with Pumpking because ST isn't that far from where I live.

The recipe you mentioned sounds right, except that there doesn't seem to be any hops listed, which is a bit odd. Perhaps add 0.5 oz. 5% AA bittering hops for 5 gallons? I don't think that there's any lactose in Pumpking; ST just mashes high and/or uses more crystal to get bigger, sweeter flavors.

You might have trouble getting pumpkin this time of year, especially in Europe. You might have to use canned pumpkin pulp, assuming you can get it. The good news is that pumpkin is a relatively subtle flavor, you can get away with using just pumpkin pie spices and get much the same effect. Alternately, you can use the pulp of any winter squash for your "pumpkin" flavor.

Pumpkin is quite sticky; if you mash with it you'll need to use rice hulls. If you put it in your boil, you'll need to stir constantly to keep it from scorching on the bottom of the kettle.

For spicing, don't put in equal measures of all the spices listed. Be really careful with the clove - a little goes a very long way. It's easy to ruin a spice beer with too much clove flavor. It's also easy to go overboard with cinnamon and nutmeg. Ginger and vanilla you can add more of without problems. The quintessential pumpkin pie spice is allspice, so consider it as well, and consider substituting the slightly more aggressive flavor of mace for the nutmeg. You'll need to play around with various spice blends to find the one you like best. Try to limit your spicing to just 2-4 spices though getting too muddled a spice character.

Randy Mosher has lots of good ideas for working with pumpkin and spices in his book Radical Brewing; check it out for lots more ideas.

There are a couple shops in Paris that sell canned pumpkin (for like 5 euros a can...), and squash in general isn't that hard to come by. What would you recommend in terms of finding the right blend? Spice tea? And yeah I didn't even notice the recipe had no hops - shows how much I was concentrating on the spices. Another of my favorite Pumpkins is the Post Road from Brooklyn Brewery. I'd love to be able to approximate that.
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Offline SpanishCastleAle

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Re: Southern Tier Pumpking Imperial Pumpkin Ale
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2011, 07:13:31 AM »
Going by the info on the bottle and some info found online it uses Magnum for bittering and Sterling at ~15 minutes remaining for a total of ~26 IBU.  Tastes like there's more vanilla than the others with some ginger.  I don't get a lot of clove which implies it's a very, very small amount (stuff is strong).

That's interesting that a 5 gal batch would only use ~2.5 oz of pumpkin.  Seems at that rate you could almost leave it out.

Offline tumarkin

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Re: Southern Tier Pumpking Imperial Pumpkin Ale
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2011, 07:26:17 AM »
That's interesting that a 5 gal batch would only use ~2.5 oz of pumpkin.  Seems at that rate you could almost leave it out.

yep, pumpkin essentially just provides fermentables, not much of anything flavorwise. all the flavor comes from the spicing - generally the 'usual suspects' for pumpkin pie, though some brewers get fairly creative.
Mark Tumarkin
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Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Southern Tier Pumpking Imperial Pumpkin Ale
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2011, 03:54:43 PM »
There are a couple shops in Paris that sell canned pumpkin (for like 5 euros a can...), and squash in general isn't that hard to come by.

Wrong season, though. I'm surprised you can find it.

For a pumpkin beer, there are two ways to go with the pumpkin: mash with it and treat it like an adjunct grain (i.e., use malt with a fair bit of diastatic power), or dump it into the wort kettle as a flavor ingredient. Mashing with it mostly gives fermentables, which is why pumpkins were historically used in brewing. Adding it to the kettle preserves a bit of the flavor and aroma, which is quite delicate. If you add it to the kettle though, be very careful to stir constantly so it doesn't scorch on the bottom of the kettle. I've never done it, or heard of it being done, but I guess you could put coarsely chopped pumpkin pulp into a grain bag to try to limit contact with the bottom of the kettle.

The best pumpkin beers I've had emphasize the malt and tend to be sweet amber ale recipes, although I've had an excellent pumpkin stout (Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout, Cape Anne Brewing, Gloucester MA). Hops obscure the pumpkin and clash with the spices.

What would you recommend in terms of finding the right blend? Spice tea?

Look at what goes into "pumpkin pie spice" blends to get ideas, then experiment until you find the blend you like. Making spiced teas and tasting them until you find a blend you like is one way, another way is to make sweet pumpkin dishes (pies, puddings) with different spice blends until you get the blend you like. For spice blends, it's really easy to overdo the clove and nutmeg, but you can add a lot of ginger without it being too dominant.

Once you've got your spice blend sorted, there are a bunch of ways of getting spice into your beer.  Making an infusion (170 F water + spices) and adding the result to your fermentor or conditioning tank is one way to get spices in your beer. Another way is to put the spices in a bag and hang that in your conditioning tank for a while (a week to a month depending on spices involved, amounts used and degree of spice character). Yet another way is to make a cordial by putting the spices in good vodka and letting the mixture sit for a while (again, weeks to months), then adding cordial to taste at packaging time. Just be aware that spices can dry out your beer due to naturally occurring tannins and other phenolic compounds. Excessive levels can give unpleasant astringency. You really don't want to boil your spices, though, so don't put them into the wort kettle.

Offline phillamb168

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Re: Southern Tier Pumpking Imperial Pumpkin Ale
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2011, 01:29:27 AM »
Following the spice mixture I mentioned in my first post, I've kegged the one gallon batch in a mini keg and am sampling it. Too much ginger! I mean, it tastes good, but too much ginger. Also mashing high seems to have not generated nearly the amount of vanillin/lactose-y complex sugars I was expecting. Perhaps it's my base malt? I used 2-row pils... Maybe next time I can try MO for something more cake-y? I dunno what MO does at higher mash temps.

I added a half tsp of vanilla, and it's not nearly vanilla-y enough. Will try adding another couple drops tonight to see what happens.

Color is perfect though... Will post a pic tonight. It's a drinkable beer as is, but is not "pumpkin." More like ginger snap, which may be desirable for some people.
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Offline gimmeales

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Re: Southern Tier Pumpking Imperial Pumpkin Ale
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2011, 03:30:12 PM »
Love that beer and would definitely say vanilla is a big flavor component however they are doing it.  I would also guess the pumpkin in the mash adds to the luscious mouthfeel.  For spices, I've also had very good luck with adding a smaller amount to the boil and dry-spicing (with equal amounts, adjusting to you preferences) after fermentation is done.  The aroma contributes as much or more to finished perceived flavors and the nuances of the spices are better preserved post-ferment.

I know we're talking spice blends here, but what also really hits me with that beer is the distinct character of a graham cracker crust.  THAT is what I'd really like to nail down.  Someone awhile back in another forum suggested lightly toasting honey malt in the oven as a small part of the grist - I loved that suggestion, but have yet to try it.  Anyone else think the malt-bill for Pumpking is another defining factor?