Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pumpkin Ale... First Ten Gallon Brewday!!!

Breaking news! Hop River Ales is now a 0.3225806 barrel home brewery! Also, I love pumpkin beer. Well, let me rephrase... I love one commercial pumpkin beer. I've tried many, but the only one that really gets me is Dogfish Head's Punkin' Ale, all the others I have tried have been too much spice/not enough pumpkin or too much pumpkin/not enough spice. DFH nails it with Punk... So, with all the equipment to brew ten gallon batches complete and autumn in full swing, I decided to do my Pumpkin Ale recipe for my first ten gallon batch. I have brewed this recipe 1 1/2 times before (the "half" was my only ever failed batch due to a hopelessly stuck sparge)... I adapted the recipe from one I found on here: Reno eNVy's Punkin' Ale which is intended to be a clone of DFH's Punkin'. I made a few tweaks (less 2 row, real pumpkin, more brown sugar, different yeast, higher efficiency, etc...) hopefully enough to consider it my own, while giving credit to the original recipe. It came out amazing.

Here is my recipe for an 11 gallon batch. You may be wondering why I make an 11 gallon batch... after fermentation, a lot of sludge (called trub) ends up settled to the bottom of the fermentor. When transferring to keg or bottling, you want to leave this behind. In doing that you lose some beer. So, to end up with 10 gallons of clear finished beer, I have to make 11 gallons to start with.

152 degree mash (was shooting for 154, but missed low and rolled with it) for 60 minutes
19 lbs American 2 row malt
2 lbs Crystal/Caramel 60L malt
2 lbs Victory malt
5 1/4 lbs Sugar Pumpkin (baked and pureed)
1 lb Rice Hulls

Mash is pretty straight forward for the experienced All Grain brewer. Except for the pumpkin... Here is how I prepare it.

I start with a 10 lb sugar pumpkin from the local country farm store. (I always go to The Hurst Family Farm for this type of thing, they may be the nicest people in the world...) I cut the pumpkin into eighths, remove the seeds, and lay in a 13x9 pan with an inch or so of water in it. Bake at 375 uncovered for about an hour or until the pumpkin starts to brown.

After baking, scoop pumpkin flesh from the skin, and discard the skin. Then I use an immersion blender to puree the pumpkin. I usually do this the day before and refrigerate. 

But. The pumpkin is going into the mash, so there are a few things needed to handle it. Firstly, you need to compensate for the temp. 5-6 pounds of cold pumpkin will affect your mash temp. To deal with this, I heated up the pumpkin on the stove before mashing in... nbd. 

Also... Rice hulls. I cannot stress enough. In my experience, nothing will stick a mash (everything in the mash tun congeals and won't drain) like pureed pumpkin. The second time I attempted this recipe was a nightmare. The mash stuck like cement, I had to pour back and forth between the tun and a 5 gallon bucket to unstick and that would last about 5 minutes of draining before sticking again. Then the sparge stuck... it was hopeless and I gave up and dumped it after 3 hours of this. Rice hulls will help keep things loose and flowing so use a lot. A half pound for 5 gallon or full pound for 10 may not be enough...

So you're probably thinking that fresh pumpkin seems like an asston of work, why not just use canned? Bc that's not how I roll. Canned pumpkin isn't even really pumpkin, it's closer to butternut squash. So if you're trying to make a Butternut Squash Ale, go ahead, used canned. But I'm making Pumpkin Ale! (does that make me a pumpkin snob??)

60 minute Boil:
2 oz Hallertau hops @ 60 minutes
3 lbs Light Brown Sugar @ 15 minutes
1 tablet Whirlfloc @ 15 minutes
3 Tablespoons Pumpkin Pie Spice @ 15 minutes (see notes)
1 oz Hallertau hops @ 5 minutes
1 oz Hersbrucker hops @ 5 minutes (substitution, this would have been another ounce of Hallertau but my brewstore only had 3 oz in stock)

Boil is pretty standard, the only real note I have is in the pie spice. In my successful 5 gallon batch I used 1.5 Tablespoons of spice in the boil. When tasting for the first time, there was not nearly enough spice. So I boiled 2 more tablespoons of spice in a quart of water for a few minutes and added right to the keg and it was perfect. I am essentially going to do the same thing again. I may try to just add the extra spice to the boil next time, but I was already experimenting on a few different fronts this time around so I didn't want to take the chance. Disclaimer: I used cheap Ocean State Job Lot pumpkin pie spice (it's what I had in the cabinet)... I cannot guarantee if you are using a fresh quality spice. I would recommend starting low as you can spice to taste at bottling/kegging.

With my efficiency, I ended up with 12 gallons (due to weaker than normal boil) of 1.078 gravity wort. If that ferments down to 1.014 like I did last time, that is a 8+% Alcohol beer. Could be considered Imperial, see why I dropped the extra 2 row malt? The efficiency is hard to calculate due to the unknown amount of fermentable sugars in the pumpkin, but I assume I'm in the low 80's...

split between two fermentors
1 pack S-04 dry yeast
1 starter of Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes liquid yeast

Here is where it gets experimental... Last time I used S-04 dry yeast instead of US-05 as in the original recipe. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I think S-04 does not ferment as low as US-05 so it will leave more body, sweetness and pumpkin flavor. I think it was perfect last time.

Since I brewed 10 gallons and my fermentors are really only for 5 gallon batches, I need to split the batch into two fermentors. This gives me the opportunity to use a different yeast in each fermentor. So I decided to get creative and do something fun for half of the batch. I used Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes yeast in the second fermentor. This is the same yeast I used in my Belgian IPA found in my old blog posts herehere, and here. This yeast is incredibly active. I knew from experience that a simple airlock would not contain it, so I started out with a blowoff tube. Glad I did, within hours it was swelling up the top of the bucket and passing krausen through the tube. 6 days later it is still pushing stuff through the tube and it has clogged twice. So excited to try this...

So what about the ten gallon experience?? Well this 13 hour (I was still out brewing after dark) brewday was full of mistakes, bloopers, panic, and learning experiences. No zen this time, but I learned a lot. I'll post about my ten gallon process once I have it figured out better... for now, here are some pics:

 The color of this beer is amazing, check out the caramel colored first runnings coming from the mash out...

So 10 gallon batches are heavy! (duh) This was my first attempt at staging things so it all flows downhill. My new neighbors probably think I'm making meth...
 So I filled the keggle on the ground and was going to pick it up full (bad idea) and put it onto the burner. I should have tested that with water. Turns out a full keggle weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 150lbs...

 Another thing I should have tested... my burner could not hold the weight. So I went to the local hardware store where I remember them having a cast iron outdoor burner. It was gone and they looked at me like I had two heads when I asked about it. So to Home Depot, they should have it... right? nope. Lowes either... So my last chance was Cabella's, and they saved the day. Probably would have been dumping this batch if Cabella's had not had it.

Full keggle sitting on new heavy duty burner... Unfortunately the rim of the keggle makes it sit a little high on the burner and it was hard to get a really good rolling boil. I'll be modifying the burner before my next brewday.

15 gallons fermenting in my basement... White topped fermentor is my Autumn Dream Cider, the other two is the split batch of Pumpkin Ale. The one on the left pushing all kinds of stuff through the blowoff tube is the Ardennes yeast. The S-04 also clogged the airlock and needed a blowoff tube but it was not nearly as dramatic as the Ardennes.

I will keep you updated with these batches, stay tuned... Later...

1 comment:

  1. Love your brewsculpture! Great use of the kids toys and pallets.