October is here. So, you know what that means? Pumpkin flavored everything is all around us. And when it comes to beer, Pumpkin can be quite polarizing.
But today I have a beer that may just convert those pumpkin haters. This pumpkin spice latte stout is bursting with roasty coffee flavors and just a pinch of spice character that makes this one of the best pumpkin beers I’ve ever tasted.
I’m Trent Musho. And this is the Bru Sho. Let’s brew a PSL stout.
Last year, I made a Pumpkin Amber ale, a recipe that I’ve been perfecting for years. It really is one of the better pumpkin ale recipes I’ve tried, and it actually calls for roasted pumpkin. But this time around, I wanted to try something different.
Often pumpkin flavor, foods, or drinks don’t use pumpkin at all. Instead they use a pumpkin spice blend that gives the impression of flavors associated with pumpkin pie. Pumpkin spice is a mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, all spice and clove.
One of the most notorious examples of this is the pumpkin spice latte. While nowadays the big coffee companies claim to use real pumpkin, the flavor is really all about the spices.
But for some reason, it works. In the mix of warming spices, balanced against the bitter and roasty espresso flavor make for an amazing combo. As long as you don’t have too much sugar in it.
So as I was sipping on a PSL, I had a thought, maybe this could make a fantastic beer. Coffee goes great with stouts and the spice, as long as you use a soft touch, can compliment the beer nicely. And boy was I right.
But before I get too ahead of myself, let’s jump into the brew day. For this recipe, I’m making a five gallon batch using the brew in a bag method. As always, all the recipe and products we use are in the description box.
To start to heat up six gallons of water to about 163 degrees to the water, I’m adding some water adjustments to improve the flavor. Here’s the water profile I’m aiming for.
If you’re not familiar with water chemistry, be sure to check out my simplified explainer video, where I talk about adding salt to your water to improve the flavor.
Once the water is heated up, I had the grain bag and then the grains.
- For that, I’m using 80% halcyon, shout out to Peter over at Genusbrewing for sending this my way. He calls Halcyon the greatest malt ever. And this is my first time using it, but supposedly it gives a great breadiness to the beer, similar to marris otter.
- 8% flaked oats also called old fashioned oats at grocery stores. This will add to the mouthfeel of the beer. Flaked oats don’t need to be crushed in the mill, they can go right into the mash.
- 6% roasted barley for the colored contribution and the distinctive roasted coffee notes it gives.
- And 6% chocolate malt also for its color and the added chocolate and coffee-like flavor and aroma.
I planned a mash at 156F for forty-five minutes, a little bit higher temp than normal to promote a sweeter, more full finish on this beer without too much residual sweetness. Give it a good mix and cover for 45 minutes.
After the 45 minutes, I pulled the grains. With the bag resting on top of a wire rack, I then sparge or rinse the grains with one and a half gallons of water. I’m doing this since my kettle won’t fit all the grains and water at one time. This allows me to reach my desired volume and rinse the grains at the same time.
Then I bring the wort to a boil for 45 minutes. Once the boil started, I add two ounces of East Kent Goldings EKG for roughly 41 IBUs. EKG to me as a slight floral and earthiness, that’ll pair nicely with the coffee flavors.
What are your thoughts on pumpkin beers? And what other fall flavors do you like to play with?
At the 15 minute mark, I drop in the wort chiller. Then at the end of the timer, I turn off the heat and add in the star ingredient. Pumpkin spice. I’m going for two tablespoons. In my experience, this is plenty for it to come off as a faint flavor addition and not pound you over the head with intense spice flavor.
I think we’ve probably all been there and had an overly spice pumpkin beer. No, thanks. Once it’s all in, in fully dissolved, I turned on the wort chiller to cool down the wort.
And I also take an original gravity reading, which I got 1.061. And what’s the wort coolled down to about 67 degrees I transfer into fermenter. I just got this anvil bucket fermenter and so far it’s been great. Thanks a lot of you for the recommendation after watching my “how to choose a fermentor video.”
For yeast, I’m going with SafAle s-04 English ale yeast, it’s my favorite for stouts, but you could go for whatever ale yeast like for dark beers.
I’ll ferment this around 67 degrees for a week. I’m also testing out this cooling coil cells to keep fermentation temps down. And once I’ve had some more experience with it, I’ll let you know more about my thoughts.
With that, I had an airlock and patiently wait, one week.
After seven days, total fermentation, airlock activity had stopped. I haven’t brewed in a stainless fermentor. So the anticipation how this looks is killing me. So I took a final gravity reading and got 1.012, meaning this one comes in at about 6.4% ABV… We officially have beer.
And taking a taste, it was really lovely. I was excited to get it kegged up and taste it with some carbonation. I pruged a keg with CO2, then opened it up and transferred the beer in. Once it was filled, I closed it and then burst carbonated at 40 PSI for 24 hours before reducing the pressure down to about eight PSI.
At which point I was ready to put back a few of these PSL stouts.
All right. I love this beer. It is absolutely beautiful. The color is an extremely midnight black. Like I am not seeing any color through it. Even when I hold it up to light, usually on some of these darker beers can get like a red color, but on this pitch-black.
And the head on it is a almost toffee like color. It smells honestly like you just walked into a coffee shop. Those coffee aromas are really coming through. And at the back of that is a slight bit of that spice, the warming notes. I’m getting the cinnamon a little bit of clove. It smells absolutely delicious. Let’s go on for a sip.
And just as I expected, the coffee is the dominant flavor here. Those roasted malts and chocolate malt really add to the flavor, give it that almost burnt toast and fresh brewed coffee.
Actually debated adding in actual coffee to this. But once I took a sip, I felt like there was plenty of coffee flavor, but if you wanted even more coffee flavor, you could always add like eight ounces of espresso and see how that tastes.
And again, at the end, I get the hint of warming spices. It’s not in your face like you can get on some of those pumpkin beers where it really becomes undrinkable. This is just slightly kissed with pumpkin spice.
I think anybody that is hesitant of trying pumpkin beers would absolutely love this. Those pumpkin spice flavors are balanced out by the coffee, which really makes us have more character than a one-dimensional pumpkin beer.
And if you don’t like pumpkin, well, then you’re luck because there’s actually no pumpkin in it. It’s just the pumpkin spice flavors. And even still, there’s not a lot. And honestly, it’s way better than anything you’ll get a coffee shop.
If you’re looking to see more fall flavored home brews, be sure to subscribe. I got a lot more planned for the coming months, and I also want to announce that I started a merch store. So if you’re looking for a way to support the channel, it’s a great way to do so.
Happy fall, happy brewing, and cheers!
Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy.