Pumpkin Pie Ale (partial mash)

Pumpkin Pie Ale

(5 gallons/19 L, partial mash)
OG = 1.062  FG = 1.015
SRM = 5  IBU = 15  ABV = 6.4%

2 to 3 lbs. (0.9-1.4 kg) pie pumpkin, baked
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) two-row pale malt
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) wheat malt
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) medium crystal malt (40° L)
6.6 lbs. (3 kg) amber liquid malt extract (or 5.25 lbs./2.4 kg unhopped amber dried malt extract)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulphered molasses or treacle
1 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (60 min.)(1 oz./28 g at 4% alpha acid)
0.5 oz. (14 g) pumpkin pie spices: nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, allspice, cardamom, ginger in muslin bag
American or German ale yeast (such as Wyeast 1056, American Ale or White Labs WLP029, German Ale/Kolsch)
1 cup extra light dried malt (if priming)

Step by Step
Cut in half, clean out, and bake one pumpkin at 300 °F (150 °C) for one hour or until flesh becomes mushy. Scoop out the pumpkin meat from the shell and place in a large grain bag along with the crushed two-row and crystal malts and malted wheat. Use a potato masher to crush the pumpkin meat with the grains. Mash the malt and the pumpkin together in 5 qts. (5 L) of water at 152 °F (67 °C) for 55 minutes, then raise the temperature to 165 °F (74 °C) for five minutes. Remove the grain bag and place in a large colander. Pour 5 qts. (5 L) of hot water through the grains in order to wash out the sugars, collecting the drippings back into the kettle.

To the kettle add the liquid malt extract (or dried malt), brown sugar, and molasses. Bring to a boil, then add Mt. Hood pellets. Boil for a total of 60 minutes. Remove from heat and add pie spices in a bag. Give the wort a long stir to create a whirlpool and let settle for 15 minutes. Remove the spice bag and chill the wort, then top off to 5.25 gals. (20 L) in your primary fermenter. Ferment with a clean ale yeast at the cooler side of the suggested fermentation temperature range. Prime with the dried malt, and bottle condition cool (50° to 55 °F/10 to 13 °C) for a month. Serve at cellar temperature to allow the blend of flavors to truly express themselves.

Pumpkin: I like to use whole pumpkins. If you can find the sweeter “pie” or “sugar” varieties, I recommend using one of those types. It is important to use a partial mash with this recipe; to get the starch in the pumpkin converted.

Malts: All-grain brewers can adapt this recipe to a standard “amber ale” grain bill, but be sure to include a little more malted wheat for better head retention. Extract brewers may have trouble using the pumpkin unless they do a partial mash as described above.

Spices: The biggest problem with this brew is the proper ratio of spice to beer. It is very easy to overdo, especially with strong-flavored spices such as ginger and clove. I have arrived at a dose of only 0.5 oz. (14 g) total, which will not seem like enough as you brew but will be noticeable in the mature beer.

My personal blend is “heavy” on nutmeg and cinnamon and very light on ginger and clove, just enough to indicate their presence. IÕve found that leaving the spices in the fermenting beer tends to become overwhelming, hence the use of a bag or some other device to steep the spices in the  wort but then remove them.

The commercial “Pumpkin Pie Spice” mixtures available on the grocery store shelf seem to me a little too gingery/clovey, so I make my own blend. Also, I have better luck with larger pieces: crushed or shaved whole cinnamon stick, allspice berries and nutmegs, whole cloves, and small pieces of fresh ginger rather than any finely ground forms.

Issue: October 1996

Reddish orange in color, creamy tan head, sweet and spicy, rich and unique. Like a New England fall afternoon.