Monday, November 1, 2010

Batch #2 - Pumpkin Beer On Halloweenie!

The new carboy and carrier
At the break
The pumpkin that we put into the wort
The yeast that we used since the other was recalled
Adding the pumpkin. This was 30 minutes after the break
Adding the second and third set of hops.
Cooling the wort
Putting the wort into the carboy for fermenting
Wort heading to the carboy to be fermented for a few weeks

Original Recipe:
American Wheat
Batch Size: 5.5 Gallons Wort Size: 5.5 Gallons
Preboil Wort Size: 6.47 Gallons

Grain - 0.5 lbs Cara-Pils Dextrine Malt
Extract - 6.0 lbs Briess DME- Weizen
Hops - 1.0 oz Hallertauer Pellets (Tradition pellets substituted instead, we didn't ask why)
Hops - 1.0 oz Liberty Pellets
Yeast - Danstar Nottingham Dry Yeast (Danstar Windsor Dry Yeast substituted again - Nottigham recalled)

***Added ingredients - 3x30oz cans of Libby's Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix.

We went into this with the intention of already modifying the recipe. We wanted to try a pumpkin beer. As we did our research into this, we were recommended by the folks at Point Brew Supply to use a wheat beer base so as to not drown out the pumpkin flavor. We were told to add the pumpkin into the Mash Tun, but didn't really understand what that meant so continued to research. Suggestions ranged a bit on how to add it. 1. Raw pumpkin cubed in a muslin bag, done as a "mini-mash" prior to boil. 2. Baking cubed pumpkin first and adding to muslin bag the same way. 3. Using pumpkin pie mix and baking it for 60-120 minutes and adding baked result to the boil. 4. Add pumpkin puree right to the boil. We opted for option 4. We added 3 30oz cans of Pumpkin Pie Mix to the boil at 30 minutes. We wanted time for the starches to cook off, but didn't want all the flavor to go so we guessed and went for the middle of the boil.

Initial Brewing notes:
- We purchased a 33 Quart Stock pot (8.25 Gallons) for the occasion. It is an enameled canning pot with no handles. The assumption was, if this pot doesn't work out, 1. It was on Sale. 2. It can be used for canning next summer.
- We brewed anyway, but noticed again that there was a fair sized chip in the enamel exposing the metal underneath. It was new, so there was no rust, but a potential issue anyway. Intend to buy a stainless pot and a burner for next time as this is already getting ridiculous.
- Pre-cleaned and sanitized everything and had a 5 gallon solution of Star-San standing by as needed. Anything we didn't need in our hands sat in the sanitizer most of the time.
- Water used this time was SuperChill drinking water purchased at Festival Foods in gallon jugs.
- Grain was crushed/ground for us at Point Brew Supply 1 day prior to brewing.
- Steeped grain in a muslin bag at a temperature range of 151 to 157 degrees for 30 minutes. Squeezed liquid out of bag at end of cycle.
- Had spray bottles (filled with same drinking water) standing by for the heat break during the boil after adding the extract. We still had some boil over while we worked to figure out how to control the foam with the bottles, but it worked much better than last time.
- Added the extract once the water was boiling, once the heat break finished, added the first hops, 1 oz Tradition pellets.
- At 30 minutes into boil, added our pumpkin. This took the temperature of the boil way down. Didn't bother to get a temperature at the time which may have been a mistake, but we stopped the timer until the wort was boiling again. This added 18 minutes to the total cook time.
- At 20 minutes remaining, added (per original recipe) .5 oz Liberty pellet hops. (We eyeballed half of the pouch)
- At 10 minutes remaining, added (again per original recipe) remaining .5 oz Liberty pellet hops.
- At completion of boil, we rapidly cooled the entire pot to 70 degrees using an ice bath.
- At 69 degrees, we removed from the ice bath and began siphoning the wort into a 6.5 Gallon glass carboy. We got a carboy carrier, but not an opaque bag as they didn't seem to have one in stock. (nor do I remember asking about it so my bad)
- We pumped the wort into the carboy fairly vigorously to increase the amount of air added. Not great to use outside air for this, but we don't have an oxygen stone yet.
- Initial gravity recorded at 1.062. The Max Gravity for the batch was supposed to be 1.055 but the pumpkin messed up those numbers.
- Pitched the yeast at around 68 degrees. Some of the yeast ended up stuck to the neck of the carboy. Oops, what a waste.

- We will need to monitor the gravity closely on this batch toward the end of the fermenting cycle as we don't know what the final should be.

- The carboy is sitting in the basement in my office where I can manage the temperature better, already bubbling nicely after a day. It's covered by a blanket to keep the temperature stable and to keep the light out.

Bottling notes:
- We boiled the corn-sugar solution in a shallow pan, so maybe had a bit too much boil-off. Not sure. When we mixed, the corn-sugar solution was almost a syrup.
- This time, we stirred the sugar solution into the bottling bucket with the beer to more evenly distribute the sugar. Of course, this is what the recipe calls for, but somehow, we missed that last time.
- This beer didn't get put in the basement right after bottling, we set it in front of a heating vent to keep it warm enough to carbonate. Our house Generally stays just under 70 degrees this time of year, so it's a bit too cold especially in the basement.
- Carbonation was perfect if maybe a bit high?

Overall, we think that this beer turned out very nicely. You can smell the pumpkin spices in it right away, but the flavor isn't overwhelming. The 6% abv gives it quite a kick so it's not one to drink a lot of. It got good reviews from the one person so far who's tried it, April's Cousin Bill, who also happens to have done home-brewing himself.

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