#47 Smashed Pumpkin Ale

Eureka, todays post is all about roasting pumpkin, spices and beer. And it all begun with the idea to use a pumpkin from my garden and make a beer with it. I did some research about pumpkin beers and came across Steve DellaSala’s post about brewing a pumpkin beer. And the following recipe is more or less the same as Steve’s recipe:

Recipe: Smashed Pumpkin Ale
Numbers: Volume [L] 18.9 (5 gal)
Original gravity 16.2°P
Terminal gravity 6.3°P
Color Around 16 EBC
ABV >5.5 %
Grains: Pilsner malt (4 EBC) 3.0 kg
Carapils (4 EBC) 0.2 kg
Munich malt (14.5 EBC) 0.5 kg
Vienna malt (8 EBC) 0.5 kg
Crystal (120 EBC) 0.5 kg
Pumpkin roasted 2.0 kg
Hops: Columbus (15% AA) 8.7 g and boil for 90 min
Willamette (5.6% AA) 13.4 g and boil for 20 min
Cascade (5.9% AA) 13.5 g and boil for 20 min
Cascade (5.9% AA) 13.5 g and boil for 2 min
Nutmeg, cinnamon 0.5 spoon of nutmeg, 1 spoon of cinnamon and boil for 90 min
Nutmeg, cinnamon 0.5 spoon of nutmeg, 1 spoon of cinnamon and boil for 20 min
Nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander 1 spoon of nutmeg, 1 spoon of cinnamon, 1 spoon of coriander and boil for 2 min
Yeast: #1056 American Ale
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 12 L (3.2 gal), sparge: 17 L (4.5 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @74°C (165°F), 60 min @ 74°C (165°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 90 min
Fermentation: Primary 7 days @ 20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter
Secondary 14 days @ 20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 2.5 (carbonated with table sugar)
Maturation time > 3 weeks

03/10/12: The pumpkin brew day begins. All started with the preparation of the pumpkin. I used a Musque de Provence which grew happily in my back garden last year. I chopped the whole pumpkin into dices and had 2 kg of pumpkin. I then roasted the dices at 180°C (356°F) in my oven for one hour and let them cool down. The dices were pretty small and dry after roasting for one hour. The mash went great, iodine test was negative after resting for one hour and the sparging was rather fast. I then added the first addition of the hops as well as the pumpkin dices as soon as the wort begun to boil. All the other hops and spices were added as mentioned in the recipe above. I used freshly ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon and ground coriander. The smell was pretty intense during the boil and the boil looked very funny with all the pumpkin on top (see picture on the right). But the fun was not over yet. I then transferred the wort into my whirlpool kettle and gave the mash a stir to let the hops and other debris settle to the bottom. I then begun with the cooling of the wort. Unfortunately, the valve of the whirlpool kettle plugged several times due to the massive amount of debris from the pumpkin. The pumpkin dices broke apart during the boil and formed kind of fibrous particles. And these particles cloaked the valve and cooler several times. I tried to get the wort running again for several times and finally lost my patience. I then just dumped the whole stuff into the fermenter with all the debris (hops, pumpkin, spices and the hot break material) and hoped to get rid of all the stuff as I rack the beer to the secondary fermenter. I then added some 1056 American Ale yeast and the fermentation begun.

03/17/12: Transferred the beer into a secondary fermenter. There was a lot of trub in the fermenter. And I decided to leave the trub in there and just rack the clear wort above the sediment. I therefore lost a lot of the beer… I guess this is the price you have to pay if you leave all the debris in the wort.

03/31/12: The beer now matured for two weeks and I bottled it with the addition of sugar and fresh yeast. I used half a package of a Windsor dry yeast to ensure the proper carbonation of the beer. There is no reason why I went with this particular yeast. It was just in my refrigerator and I had no use for it in the near future. The bottles will now carbonate for another week and I will let them mature for some time before a first tasting.

Now, the recipe itself was really interesting to brew. But the amount of debris makes it really difficult to handle. I can’t imagine how the sparging would be if the pumpkin is added during the mash. If I would do this brew again, I would try to get rid of the debris somehow. Maybe use a filter, maybe use a bag for the pumpkin. Anyway, I am really looking forward to taste this beer. Stay tuned!

08/06/2013: Posted the tasting notes


7 thoughts on “#47 Smashed Pumpkin Ale

  1. Pumpkin beers are famous for being messy. I admit, I have never brewed one, but I have had a few guys I know brew them, and they had a different approach. They mashed their pumpkin instead of boiling it, and they used rice hulls as well in the mash to help with the sparge. You may have more success that way. Also, I am not sure if a beta glucanase rest at 40c may help. You may find the canned pumpkin is also easier, since it is already broken down, and save you a step, unless you want some of that roasted squash flavor.

    • Thanks for your comment. I have heard similar things about pumpkin beer as well. Now I know it is true… 🙂 I was afraid of adding the pumpkin during the mash because of possible sparging problems. Unfortunately, I have never encountered rice hulls and canned pumpkin here in Europe before. Don’t know why you can’t get it here… I could purée the pumpkin next time to get the same consistency as a canned pumpkin. I will definitely think about adding the pumpkin during the mash next time.
      Another thing I heard of pumpkin beers is that the character of the pumpkin is just too subtle with all the spices you add. Maybe use no pumpkin at all would work as well… But that would not be the true spirit of a pumpkin beer in the first place. The tasting will tell me more about that. Thanks again and cheers

      • Wow, I thought with the tradition of wheat and rye beers in Germany, you would have easy access to rice hulls to make your brew days easier. I use them in the mash when I am getting around 40% or more wheat malt, just to be safe. They are used extensively in the craft beer scene in the US for this purpose.

        Pumpkin is more of a delicate flavor, you are right, and the spicing tends to overpower everything. Unfortunately, when most Americans think pumpkin, what they really think of is pumpkin pie with its blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves that are used to spice the pie.

        Alternatives that may work and be more readily available in Europe are sweet potatoes. I know Allagash Brewing did a one off with sweet potatoes and black pepper, but you will have the same sparge issues with those that you did with the pumpkin. That being said, you spice them the same way you do pumpkin, and they too make a great pie!

        • I have no idea why we can’t get rice hulls here. No idea. I could not even find a useful translation for rice hulls 😉 Concerning the sweet potatoes, funny you mention it. I recently tried the Autumn Maple from TheBruery which is brewed with sweet potato as well. Really like this particular beer. Actually my favorite so far. I planned to do a clone of this this brew in a few days and use sweet potatoes myself. Your comment made my rethink the whole idea. I should think about a way to prevent any sparging problems when I add the potatoes to the mash. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Sweet! I made a pumpkin beer before and it’s indeed a delicate flavor. The way I did it was roast the pumpkin first and then throw it in at 30 minutes I think. I’ve been wanting to do another one for a while now, and I’m going to mash it this time and add just a hint of spice to play in the background. Thank’s for this post! It’s fund and encouraging 🙂

  3. Hi there. I’m Steve DellaSala and I wrote the original articles about Pumpkin Beer. How’d it turn out?

    • Hi there, sorry for the late reply. I still have to do a proper sensory evaluation of this beer. Will come back to you soon. Cheers, Sam

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