Monday, August 20, 2007

Homebrew Pumpkin Ale

Well, I finally got around to dusting the cobwebs off my brewing gear and brewed on Saturday for the first time since February. It felt good! Made me remember why I like doing it.

To get the unpleasantness out of the way:

Yes, I'm an extract brewer. No, I don't have plans to go all least not until we buy a house with more storage space (i.e. a garage). No, I don't do full boils because, again, I need more space. Yes I brew a pumpkin beer without any real's the spices that add the flavor not the pumpkin. I homebrew because I enjoy doing it, but I'm not obsessive about it. If I wanted to be obsessive I'd take the Siebel class and become a pro.

On to the pleasantness! Last year I brewed a Pumpkin Ale as a surprise for my sister's birthday in October (she loves pumpkin ale). I geniusly called it "Carrie's Pumpkin Ale," and Mandy designed the labels. She loved it and asked me to make it for her again this year and I quickly realized I was running out of time if I wanted it done for her birthday.

Here's the recipe for this year (slight tweaks from last year):

.5 lb Crystal 40
.75 lb Munich Malt
4 lbs Light DME (last year: 4.5 lbs)
1.5 lbs Wheat DME
1 oz Cluster Hops (60 minute boil)
1 oz Willamette Hops (15 minute boil)
1 tsp Irish Moss (15 minute boil)
2 oz Pure Vanilla Extract (flameout)
1.5 Tablespoons McCormack Pumpkin Pie Spices (flameout)
WYeast 1056 American Ale (last year: White Labs 028 Burton Ale)

After crushing the grains, I steeped them in 1.25 Gallons at 150-170F for 30 minutes and sparged with .5 Gallon at 140-150. Topped up to 4 gallons. Brought to boil. Added DME Brought back to boil. Added Cluster. Boiled 45 minutes, added Willamette and Irish Moss. Boiled 15 minutes. Added vanilla and pp spices immediately prior to flameout. Cooled the wort in an ice bath until it was 70-75F. Strained into bucket. Topped up to 5 gallons. Stirred like heck (including my patented scoop move that really gets it frothy and, hopefully, nice and oxygenated). Pitched the yeast directly from the smack pack.

I do usually make a starter the Wed. before brewing, but I didn't have time this week. I decided I'd try straight pitching, since the package clearly says you're able to do this and my OG was only 1.05.

I had airlock activity at about the 8 hour mark and it's still going nice and steady. To maintain constant fermentation temps in the correct range (60-72), I stick the bucket in a big cooler filled with water and I drop frozen water bottles in to keep it around a constant 65. Ugly but effective.

Some Pics:

The Magic:

The rest of the ingredients:

The Hops:

Steeping the specialty grains (small pot):

After reaching boil and adding DME (big pot):

The middle of the boil:

Done and the kitchen is clean:

My hi-tech temperature control system:


Predicted (Actual)
OG: 1.054 (1.050)
FG: 1.011
Color: 10.86 SRM
Bitterness: 30.7 IBU
ABV: 5.7%

Hopefully my sis won't be disappointed.

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