Sunday, December 2, 2012

Pumpkin Chai Spice Brown Ale

To me, pumpkin pie is one of the most beautiful things on this Earth. Around fall, I try to get as many pumpkin-related food items in my belly as possible. Being that I am feeling fairly competent at brewing these days, I felt that I should attempt to brew a totally awesome pumpkin ale. I have tried a a few kinds of pumpkin ale, and I have often found them to be a little lacking. I wanted to brew a pumpkin ale that would totally knock my socks off (and my friends' socks, to boot). Moreover, I didn't want to brew just any pumpkin ale; I wanted to brew a beer that would taste like you were drinking a piece of pumpkin pie.

Cleaning out the pumpkins
To increase the amount of "fall flare" in the beer, I thought it would be a nice touch to add some good loose-leaf chai tea. The tannins from black tea compliment darker beers quite nicely, and since I was planning on this being a brown ale, I thought it would be a nice addition. Furthermore, I thought the cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom of the chai tea would blend quite well with the pumpkin pie spices I was going to add to the beer.

Baking the pumpkins in trays with water
It's important to note that this beer uses real pie pumpkins, not the canned stuff! I used 7 lbs. of pie pumpkins and roasted them in the oven until they were tender. The easy way to roast pumpkins (and any other squash or gourd), is to cut them in half from top to bottom, scrape out the pulp and seeds, and then place them cut-side down in a baking tray with 1/4 inch of water in it. Bake them in the oven at 350*F for around 45-90 minutes, depending on the size of the pumpkin. You'll know they're done when you can easily insert a fork through them. Once they're cooked, remove the rind and cut the cooked pumpkin into small squares. To help expose the insides, slightly smash the cut pumpkin squares.

Cube and slightly smash after cooking
You are going to put the smashed pumpkin directly in your mash with your grains. This method imparts a bit of color as well as some flavor. In my experience, the flavor is mild and is usually present on the very back end of the palate. I also added one teaspoon of amylase to the mash to help convert some of the pumpkin starches into more sugars.

This beer turned out great! The pumpkin flavor is subtle and on the back end. The malt and hops are nice and balanced by the chai tea and spices, leaving a wonderfully pie-reminiscent flavor!

Make sure to use high-quality chai tea!
Pumpkin Chai Spice Ale:
Style: Southern English Brown Ale
Type: All Grain
OG: 1.062
FG: 1.008
ABV: 7.07 %
IBU's: 18.67
Batch Size: 5.00 Gal
Boil Time: 60 minutes

The grain bed is loaded with pumpkin!
Primary: 14 days @ 65.0°F
Secondary: 14 days @ 72.0°F
Bottle/Keg: 14 days @ 74.0°F

Grains & Adjuncts
7.50 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter
7.00 lbs Roasted Pie Pumpkin
0.25 lbs Baird's Chocolate Malt
0.25 lbs Special B Malt
0.25 lbs Biscuit Malt
0.25 lbs Special Roast
1.00 lbs Rice Hulls
1.00 tsp Amylase Enzyme (added to the mash)

1.00 oz Fuggles - 60 min

Wyeast Labs 1056 - American Ale

2.00 lbs Dark Brown Sugar - added during the last 10 minutes of the boil
0.75 tsp Pumpkin Spice - added during the last 10 minutes of the boil
2.00 oz Chai Tea - steeped for 6 minutes at flame-out
1.00 tsp Irish Moss - added during the last 15 minutes of the boil

Mash Profile
Medium Body Infusion: 60 min @ 154.0°F
 Add 23.25 qt (1.50 qt/lb) water @ 170.4°F

Bottle Carbonation - 4.05 oz Corn Sugar
Force Carbonation - 10.1 PSI @ 40*F