Our September Group Brew was a pumpkin beer. Billy B. and Vanessa held close to the style, while Billy E. and Robert, not being fans of pumpkin beers, took a different route.
Here are our tasting notes:
Vanessa Gimpel's “Saison de Calabaza”
I decided to go with Calabaza pumpkin for my September brew, as they'd just come into season and were on super-special-sale at the fruit & veg market. Also, I find they're the perfect balance of sweet and that great spicy something that fall squashes have.
I split them in half, scooped out the seeds & roasted them for about 1.5 hours so they were nice and caramelized on the top; then just scooped out the roasted pulp into a painters bag and ran them through the whole boil. I also used the East Coast Yeast “Saison Brasserie” blend, which I think may now be my go to saison yeast!
I love how this beer came out, and it'll probably be on seasonal rotation. A nice pumpkin aroma on the nose, but not too overpowering on the tongue – definitely no canned pumpkin here 🙂 Quite light and spritzy for something that came out close to 7.5%, crisp with some lemony herbal notes, and of course some belgian yeast flavours in there too. I did not end up adding any additional “pumpkin pie” spices, as I felt that they might play against the lightness that I enjoyed, even before it was carbonated.
I suspect this is not going to last long in the kegerator!
Robert French's Yam-Tacu-Ale 2.0
I did have a change to the original recipe. The gravity stalled out at 1.020 and this was before I added the additional 8oz of maple syrup to the secondary. I made a judgement call to pitch more yeast and the maple syrup. I went with White Labs 568, a Belgian Saison yeast. The final gravity came in at 1.010 and 7.08 ABV.
The beer has only been in the bottle for about 2 weeks and with the higher ABV, I really think this beer needs to sit another week or two before tasting again.
The color is a nice chocolate brown. The head retention is a bit low, but the mouth feel is good.
The aroma has a vanilla sweetness that over powers everything else. I know from my previous batch the vanilla will tone down in time.
The beer is sweet up front with a dry finish. A nice caramel sweetness with a roasted finish. The maple is coming off as just sweet and not much of the maple flavor. As the beer warms, the alcohol is more present in the taste. No hop bitterness comes though, which is what I was going for. Even though the beer is still young, It is still a very nice drinking beer. I do think the higher ABV along with the Belgian yeast has turned the beer from a Porter style to more of a Belgian Dubble. I just might need to save a six pack for aging.
Billy Ellison's Red Pepper Cream Ale
When I first brewed this, I was surprised at, first, how good at turned out and also the reception to it. The cool thing about roasting vegetables is that the new flavors that it brings out really create new depths. Why not add it to the fermenter and see what happens? Version 2.0 of the cream ale went smashingly well.
Nice clean, white moderate head with decent retention. The beer has a golden look with just a dash of red from the peppers. The nose you get a full, but not overpowering, roasty red pepper smell, and not much else. Effervescent mouthfeel and a crisp finish with a last-minute reminder of the red peppers and then it's gone.
Only thing I would do differently is filter the beer next time, which I can now that I have a willing keg, plenty of co2 and the ever important regulator. A fan favorite around here. This batch is almost gone already though, so need to make some more to keep around.
Billy Broas's Pumpkin Porter
To recap, I added 2 cans of Libby's Pumpkin Pie Mix to a porter base. Since the mix was already spiced, I didn't add any additional. I was expecting the pumpkin to really gunk up the boil kettle and fermenter but it actually dissolved quite well into the beer.
The end result was a very good porter with just a hint of pumpkin. The mix really didn't add much flavor, even being the spiced version. This supports the conclusion, and I think many brewers agree, that it's really those spices you add to the pumpkin beer that gives it all the flavor.
Regardless, the pumpkin porter got rave reviews from friends and we kicked the keg in record time. It's medium bodied with a light chocolate flavor that paired well with the gentle spicing. The dark malts added some nice depth without being harsh. I would certainly brew the base beer again, but will try something different for my next pumpkin beer. Gotta' keep trying new things.
Did you brew a pumpkin beer?
If you joined in the Group Brew, let us know how your beer turned out down in the comments.