Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The 2011 Holiday Pumpkin Ale

It all began with our hops crop:

John started by harvesting the hops:

Katie the Beagle, do you think this will turn out yummy?

Then you need to carve up some Jack O'Lanterns.  And what better way to carve up a bunch of Jack O'Lanterns than to throw a pumpkin carving party for Monique's birthday?

Wait, that Jack O'Lantern isn't a pumpkin! That's a birthday cake!

Now THESE are pumpkins!

Carve 'em up!

Lexi and Anna get to work on their well decorated pumpkins:

The results?

Next up. Roast the leftover Jack O'Lantern trimmings, then trim the skin:

Katie the Beagle continues to help:

Boil up the pumpkin chunks:

After 45 minutes add some hops and some amber malt extract:

Boil, boil, toil and trouble:

Mash the pumpkin. Then add some irish moss (to help clarify the beer later), the remaining hops:

And the spices:

Boil for another 15 minutes, then strain out the pumpkin and hops.  We pulled out the leavings with a course mesh strainer; ran water through the leavings to rinse out the sugars and flavors; poured the runoff back in the brew pot; then poured the wort through a fine mesh strainer and into the brew bucket.  The truly obsessed with clarity could use some cheesecloth, but that seems like a pain in the tuchus. Next time I think we'll add a big strainer to that process for easier sparging and runoff. Thus does the process of industrialization grow:

Add water to make five gallons.  When the wort cools below 80 degrees, pitch your yeast and seal it up.

After the yeasties do their thing, you'll need to bottle, but that's another step yet to come.

2011 Pumpkin Holiday Ale Recipe


  • 10-12 lbs. Jack O'Lantern trimmings
  • ~5 gallons water
  • 2 1.5-kg cans of Thomas Cooper amber malt extract
  • ~ 2 ounces mostly dried Golden hops from the plant outside our door
  • 1 packet Coopers Ale Yeast (premoisten for 30 minutes before pitching)
  • 1/2 cup ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup whole cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss

1) Roast pumpkin in turkey roaster at 375 degrees for 90 minutes. Let cool.

2) Trim skin from pumpkin scraps. Put in pot with a couple gallons of water.

3) Boil pumpkin for 40-45 minutes

4) Add malt extract and 3/4ths of the hops.

5) Boil wort for another 40-45 minutes.

6) Add the spices, the rest of the hops, and the Irish Moss.

7) Boil for another 15 minutes.

8) Strain out the pumpkin and hops.

9) Sparge those leavings: run some water through them a few times and pour the runoff back in the brewpot until it's reasonably clear.  (This will pull out more sugar and flavor)

10) Pour the pot through a fine mesh strainer and into the brew bucket.

11) Let cool to below 80 degrees.

12) Pitch yeast.

13) Seal, and wait for the yeasties to do their thing.

14) Once the yeast is done, bottle.

15) Enjoy with the rest of your holidays!  The last batch of this that we did was pretty raw at Thanksgiving, but had mellowed nicely by Christmas and New Year.  And it was yummy.


  1. All this work reminds me of an old rhyme I read somewhere:

    Beer and wine:
    I feel fine.
    Wine and beer:
    O dear!

    What can that possibly mean I wonder?

  2. Apocryphal alcoholic advice, right up there with:

    Beer then liquor,
    Never sicker;
    Liquor then beer,
    Never fear.

  3. Revealing all of these vital national secrets on the Internet! John! Soon the Chinese will start selling your Pumpkin Ale for real renminbi....