Annual Pumpkin Brew

I realized yesterday about an hour before my favorite brewshop closed that I had exactly one month until Halloween, and if I wanted to bottle a celebratory pumpkin beer in time for the holiday I’d better get it in the bucket NOW NOW NOW. (or then then then, but you get me.)

I’d thought about making a pumpkin stout, because Elysian Brewing‘s Dark o’ the Moon is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever consumed (and if you’re not going to try the rest of theirs at the Pumpkin Beer Festival Oct. 8 and 9, you’re seriously missing out on one of the best parts of autumn in Seattle). But I don’t think I can equal that one yet, and I’ve been loving me some  brown ales lately, so I hodge-podged together a recipe for a spiced pumpkin brown. I’m aiming for a pumpkin-bread feeling. Here’s the recipe I used:

The Most Serene Republic of Pumpkin

Before brew day: obtain a nice fat medium-size pumpkin, 10-15 pounds. This pumpkin will be the backbone of your beer, so choose one with a gracious and friendly bearing.

2 lb Vienna Malt
½ lb Crystal 60L malt
½ lb Cara-Pils malt
6 lbs roasted pumpkin chunks

6 lbs amber DME (60 minutes)
2 c molasses (60 minutes)
1 oz Mt. Hood hops (60 minutes)
1 tbsp cinnamon (60 minutes)
an arbitrary quantity of additional pumpkin chunks (60 minutes)

1/2 oz Saaz hops (5 minutes)
Nutmeg, coriander seeds, allspice, 1 tbs each (5 minutes)
1 oz fresh ginger, grated (5 minutes)
You want some orange peel? Add an ounce of orange peel here. (5 minutes)

Lallemand Windsor yeast (British-style. Use what you like best.)

Wash, gut, and chunk pumpkin. Roast pumpkin chunks in oven at 375 for 60 minutes.
Mash grain and 6lbs of pumpkin in 1 ½ gallons hot water at 170F for 45 minutes.
Sparge with 2 gallons hot water. Squish for maximum yield. Delight in sweet scent and warm amber color.
Boil 55 minutes with malt extract, molasses, cinnamon, Mt. Hood hops, and another pound or two of pumpkin chunks.
Add Saaz hops and late-addition spices, and boil 5 minutes.

THIS IS A PUMPKIN BEER WITH PUMPKIN IN IT so go ahead and drop the rest of the chunks into your sanitized fermenter.
Cool wort, strain into fermenter. Could be sludgy; be patient. Squish wort out of sludge. Top up to 5 gallons. Add yeast.
After a week, or when the fermentation slacks off, rack your exquisitely pumpkin-y ale off the sludge of the exquisite pumpkin that helped you make it, and let it finish up in a secondary fermenter for another week or two.

Prime and bottle! Enjoy.

It’s doing the first crazed fermentation right now. Wort tasting and airlock-sniffing suggest that I could probably afford to tone down the hops a bit, and maybe bump up the Crystal and dextrin (cara-pils) malts to a full pound each, but it’s not even a day in yet and there’s lots for the yeast to do. Also, I forgot the ginger. Oh well! I’ll update on its progress in a week or two when it goes into bottles or a secondary fermenter.

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4 thoughts on “Annual Pumpkin Brew

  1. Ben Messina says:

    Interesting – I’m starting a roasted pumpkin beer tonight, though with the sweetness potential (using belgian pale malt, and bourbon soaked oak cubes) I was going to go 2oz on some fuggles (about the same AA as the saaz, little more maybe). It will be interesting to hear how yours turns out in terms of balance.

    • brewingape says:

      My Saaz were pretty strong, it’s a New Zealand strain that my brewshop called “the Cascade of Saaz”. I suspect we’ll get pretty similar results. Let me know how it goes?

  2. Ben Messina says:

    Indeed. Just hit the fermenter last night (without taking an OG reading, oops), and I made a massive yeast starter (dregs from my stout, and some ale yeast) so it should go pretty quick. I might only keep a gallon and give/sell the rest to my beer club (best thing ever – they buy 40 bottles for $40, they supply the bottles and labels, and “sell” it for donations), depending on how much I like it.

  3. Ben Messina says:


    You should make Sean post his exploits here as well. I’m curious how he’s doing with this brewing.

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