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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Home Brewing Pumpkin Ale

Tis the season to love Pumpkin flavored beer. Ok, I know I am a little behind on this craze, but no matter the time of year I enjoy a good pumpkin spiced beer. In my adventures as a home brewer I decided to make my 2nd beer a Pumpkin beer. Since I am still new at this home brewing thing, I still work with extract recipe kits. The recipe that I chose this time around was the Smashing Pumpkin Ale Extract Kit w/ Specialty Grains that I ordered from Northern Brewer Homebrew Supply.

According to the instructions, if I wanted to add a real pumpkin I would need an additional 2 or 3 pounds of the Rahr 6-row and an 8 to 10 pound pumpkin. I didn't have any pumpkins available to me, but I did have 2 cans of pumpkin filling available. During the steep period, I added in the pumpkin filling. This made the wort smell like a great big pumpkin pie, really made the house smell great. I decided to do a two stage fermentation for this beer. During the first stage I had some crazy blow off into one of my Twin Bubble Airlock and Carboy Bung (Set of 2).  During the fermentation stages I keep the carboys in my spare bedroom where the door is closed off to the rest of the house. Temperature is very important during fermentation, which is something I need to improve on in my next go around.

Once the two stages of fermentation where complete I was able to move the carboy down to the basement for bottling. Last Christmas my now mother-in-law was nice enough to buy me a 24 12oz Amber long neck bottles, so I was ready for the bottling phase.

The one thing I always forget when it comes to bottling is sanitizing the bottles. This time around it wasn't any different. I started making the priming solution before starting to sanitizing the bottles. Since I made a 5 gallon batch, I had a lot of bottles to sanitize. Of course, one of the most important aspects of homebrewing is enjoying a couple beers while you are doing it. While sanitizing the bottles I did enjoy myself a couple pops to say the least. When I was finished with the bottle sanitizing, I transferred the beer to the bottling bucket. The bottling process took about two hours to complete. When I was done, I had filled and capped 40 bottles of beer.

Once you are done bottling you have to wait one to two weeks after bottling day for proper conditioning. By this time I had gone out and craiglisted a nice used refrigerator and moved it into the basement, which wasn't an easy task. In fact, in order to get it into the basement all doors had to be removed from my house and the refrigerator and a railing had to be removed. Needless to say, my wife wasn't too pleased with the railing removal. I now had a proper BEER REFRIGERATOR. I placed the beer into the fridge and waited for it to cool.

Last time I made a 5 gallon batch it took me some time to drink it. This time, I planned a tasting party around the time that the beer was ready. A couple of my friends and their wives/girlfriends came over to my house and enjoyed some of my beer. The reviews were very positive and they all seemed to enjoy it. As the night went on we switched from my pumpkin beer to some bud light that my friend brought with him. All in all it was a fun night filled with good beer, good friends, and some great fooseball playing.

I look forward to the next time I put on my home brewing hat. I think I will try to make a mint chocolate stout. I have a friend who lives in Milwaukee that is a home brewer who made a mint chocolate stout that was delicious. I hope mine will be half as good as his. When I started to get into home brewing I went out and bought The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition. It has been helpful in getting started in homebrewing. There are many great books out there on the art of homebrewing. I hope to get a couple others as I get deeper into homebrewing.

Until next time friends, drink on and be happy.