7 Tips For Brewing Great Pumpkin Beer
Fall is our favorite time of year, not just for the weather or the changing of the leaves, but because we get to brew pumpkin beers!
We love brewing pumpkin beers because they have such an incredible range of style, flavor, and aroma characteristics. Despite what the pumpkin beer naysayers out there will say, this beer style is a wonderful seasonal because it has infinite possibilities. From spices to mash additions to brewing techniques, pumpkin beers are a blank canvas that are only limited by your own imagination. For those who do love pumpkin beers or newbies brewing their first one, here are seven tricks to making a great pumpkin beer:
- Base Beer is Important
Stick to a few base beers you enjoy drinking, then add pumpkin. Brew a beer you want to drink first, then make it a great pumpkin beer.
- Monster Mash
Many homebrewers will tell you that the best way to get that savory cooked pumpkin flavor is to throw it in the mashtun. The same process that is breaking down sugars in the mash will also break down the starches in your pumpkin. When adding an ingredient like pumpkin that doesn’t contribute husks to aid as a filter bed, it is very helpful to use rice hulls to prevent sticky mashes. There is nothing worse than ruining a brew day due to a stuck mash!
-Since you don’t have to worry about a mashtun, you can skip this step. If you want cooked pumpkin aroma try baking it in the oven first, then add it to the last 10 minutes of your boil. This give it enough time to break down, without boiling off too much flavor or aroma.
- The Rule of Six
Add some six-row barley to your mash. As the American Homebrew’s Association explains: “Six-row has higher enzyme content for converting starch into fermentable sugars. More enzymes mean it can convert adjunct starches (which lack or are deficient in enzymes) during mashing.”
- Easy on the Spices
You can always add more spice to your beer, you can’t take it out. Try a small addition to start, if you want more, add it. There is nothing worse than a nutmeg bomb.
- More Pumpkin!
When your beer is done fermenting and you have racked it to secondary, taste it. At this point its beer and the flavor profile is not going to drastically change, unless you want it to. Secondary is a great opportunity to fine tune a beer’s aroma and flavor. If you want more pumpkin, cook some chunks in the oven to sanitize it then toss it in. Make sure the chunks are small enough to get out later but not too small to clog your racking cane.
- Easy on the Hops
Excessive bitterness doesn’t play well with this style of beer. When developing your recipe, keep the IBUs low. There are several online tools, like BrewToad, that you can use to calculate bitterness. This free tool is great for getting into brewing and has some advanced features as well.
- Drink pumpkin beers!
The only way you are going to know what you want to brew, is by trying other beers. Host a pumpkin bottle share with some friends so you can taste a range of flavors and styles. Once you find one you like, take note of its base style, adjuncts, and hop profile.
The Brew Hut offers recipes for all Dry Dock beers and pre-made starter kits as well. Dry Dock’s Half Moon Pumpkin, Imperial Pumpkin, and our Brew Hut exclusive: Eclipse Pumpkin Porter, are available this month as our beer of the month for October. Ingredients and starter kits for beer of the month recipes are always 10 percent off throughout that month.