For some reason, I didn’t think that one batch of pumpkin ale in 2011 would be enough. I also decided that I wanted to try my hand at coming up with my own beer recipe, but didn’t think I was ready to jump in without some guidance. Finally, I thought it would be fun to ferment beer inside a pumpkin.
I took those three ideas and came up with Plumpkinstein. The recipe is only slightly altered from Plumpkin Ale (aka Midwest Supplies’ Pumpkin Ale kit). The biggest change being that I opted to use all Mount Hood hops instead of using Cascade for aroma. I didn’t have a good grip on many hop varieties, but I knew that Cascades were associated with Pale Ales and IPAs and I didn’t think I wanted any of that character in this beer.
But yes, the major excitement for this beer was the fact that it went through secondary fermentation inside of a pumpkin. I cut off the top of the pumpkin, scraped out the guts as best as I could and then filled it with boiling water. This sanitized it and also gave me an idea of how much liquid I could fit inside. It turned out to hold about four gallons. The other rest of this five gallon batch went into another project, Black and Orange, which I’ll cover tomorrow.
I brewed the beer in the same manner as Pumpkin Ale, with an indeterminate amount of spices and pumpkin, then gave it a normal primary fermentation. After about a week in the bucket, I prepared the pumpkin as described above and racked the beer into it. The top of the pumpkin was replaced, along with an airlock stuck into it and the pumpkin and beer sat undisturbed for just under two weeks. I noticed that the pumpkin was starting to show signs of aging at that point and I decided it was probably time to get the beer out of there, so I racked to my bottling bucket and bottled it.
This beer had a great, fresh, vegetal pumpkin flavor. It was less pumpkin pie and more pumpkin patch. The aroma of a fall day in a beer. Fresh, it was fantastic. It did not age well at all, though. There are definitely hunks of pumpkin in this beer and the alcohol does not seem have been enough to keep them preserved. After a couple months, it was already showing serious signs of aging.
That said, yes, of course I still have some and of course I will be doing some tasting notes on three year old bottles soon. My recipe is below. I think the recipe could use some serious updating, but I think the idea of fermenting in a pumpkin is a good one, given that you are going to be drinking the beer pretty quickly. I would like to try it again some day, maybe next year.
Style: Pumpkin Ale
Brew Date: August, 2011
Serve Date: September, 2011
6 lb. Gold liquid malt extract
8 oz. Caramel 10L
1 oz. Mount Hood @ 60 min
1 oz. Mount Hood @ 2 min
1 lb brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, cloves and canned pumpkin all added to end of boil.
Nottingham Ale Dry Yeast