Tag Archives: stormtroopers

Zugzug, beer done

The Most Serene Republic of Pumpkin is safely in bottles now. FIRST: PICTURES!

Here’s a quick recipe post-mortem.

Mouth experience:

  • Definite squashy/pumpkin flavor. Total success there. Huzzah!
  • Pleasantly spicy. Hops blend in with spice. May settle down during bottle-conditioning…more spice required? Probably more ginger.
  • Moderate breadiness. I like the yeast choice. No tartness.
  • Minimal sweetness. As usual, I underestimated how much malt/adjunct would be required. I need to tape a sign over the stove that reads DROWN THE YEASTS IN THEIR OWN URINE. That’ll put me in the proper spirit.

Recipe experience:

  • Keep yeast. Use more malt in general, especially dextrin and Crystal. Try Maris Otter next time?
  • Use kabocha, rather than pumpkin, for even more pronounced pumpkin flavor.
  • Don’t forget the ginger in the boil, geez.

And that’s pretty much that! This was my first recipe built from scratch, and I thank everybody who biffed their batches before me so I knew what not to do. If you like a pumpkin ale that has pronounced spice-bread flavor without tasting like dessert, stick with the original recipe. For a sweeter pumpkin-bread ale, you’ll want to tweak it with some of the suggestions above. Either way, IT’S PUMPKIN and that’s the important thing.

(incidentally, a note to Seattle-area folks. Sound Homebrew Supply is a sweet new joint and it’s about time a homebrew shop opened in the Georgetown/Sodo area given how many craft breweries, like Two Beers, Georgetown Brewing, Schooner Exact, Epic Ales, etc etc, are there already. I have no doubt they’ll do fine. They certainly don’t need me to boost their signal and they haven’t recompensed me in any way for this, but I did stop in yesterday and they were super-cool. It’s early days still and smells a bit of new carpet. 🙂 Check out the solid array of specialty grains. I want to see them stick around so I can keep having a brewshop so ridiculously close to home.)

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Forest Mead of Endor

Hey all! Let’s kick this off in proper nerdy style. This is my first mead ever, and it’s got trees in it. Specifically, fir trees. I’ve been reading a lot about spruce and juniper ales and sahti and suchlike lately–but I live in Seattle and if there’s one thing we’ve got all over the place, it’s fir. There’s a bunch across the street from me. There’s one twenty feet from the door of the brewshop I like. All this delicious tree standing around for free and LIKE I’M EVEN GOING TO CONSIDER NOT BREWING WITH THAT.

Resiny trees bittering a brew is nothing new–I’d be surprised if the base recipe I used here hasn’t been a base recipe for a thousand years or more. The Imperial presence, however, is all me. First, the recipe:


1 gallon water

3 oz fir tips (snip the last couple of inches of new growth off a branch. You could use even more fir than I did, too.)

3 lbs honey, I used wildflower but whatever

(optional) essential oil mix: 7 drops wintergreen, 5 drops clove, 3 drops anise

1/2 packet wine yeast

Boil fir tips in water for 30-45 minutes, until the water is a nice pale green and the needles are a gross off-brown. Strain, and add honey to hot fir tea. Stir to dissolve. Add essential oils while it’s cooling, and prep the yeast, and once it’s cool bung it all into the fermenter. Wait. Wait a good long time.

I got my batch started two weeks ago, so here’s some action shots.

Naturally I’ve tasted it, and it’s coming along great–there’s a ton of honey in it so the result will be fairly sweet. The essential oils are meant to duplicate sarsaparilla bark, which I didn’t have on hand. I think steeping any of the actual spices (i.e. anise, wintergreen, or cloves) with the fir tea would give similar results. Or hell, real sarsaparilla bark. Or citrus peel. That sounds really good, actually, I think I’ll try that next time.

Combined with the fir resinousness and the honey sweetness, the Forest Mead of Endor tastes a whole lot like…really really good old-fashioned root beer. Just astringent enough to avoid being cloying with a growing alcohol bite. I can’t wait for this one to finish!

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