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Finally the In House Brew Pumpkin Beer is being drank!  Looking back through the notes of Part One (Research), Part Two (Designing a Recipe) and Part Three (Brewing) this journey started on August 21st and is now finally being consumed on November 29th but better late than never right?  The end goal of this project was a drinkable Pumpkin Beer; something that wasn't going to slap you in the face with spices or sweetness the way several examples of the style do.  An idea that originated over the quandary of what to do with garden pumpkins evolved into learning something new about autumn brewing. 

So what does it taste like you ask?  Is it too overbearing?  Too subdued to notice?  Nicely balanced?  Or maybe just muddled and confused?

Well, the smell comes in right off the bat as a mixture of a biscuity goodness with a hint of cinnamon.  There’s very poor head retention and the color is a bit darker than anticipated but over all a decent enough looking brown ale.  There’s a hint of caramel sweetness and a bit of bready flavor mixed with a tad of roastiness and followed by a lingering pumpkin spice flavor that remains after going down.  Normally when the term “lingering” is used in the description of a beer it is a bad thing but there is just enough there to remind you it is a pumpkin beer without blowing you out of your mind.  Overall: success!

If it needed to be done again, which I sure it will next fall, it may be aided from some body and head enhances.  The initial thoughts were for flaked wheat or maybe even flaked oats but they were nixed for the sake of simplicity.  Perhaps either of those would be good additions.  With the spices it almost tastes a little too bitter so using slightly less spice, lowering the IBUs or perhaps mashing higher to achieve a little more sweetness to round that out would work.  Overall though; not bad at all for a first run through.  

Type: All Grain 
Batch Size (fermenter): 2.50 gal 
Boil Size: 3.88 gal 
End of Boil Volume 3.13 gal 
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 % 

Ingredients Amt Name Type # %/IBU 
5 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 1 76.9 % 
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 2 15.4 % 
4.0 oz Amber Malt (22.0 SRM) Grain 3 3.8 % 
4.0 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 4 3.8 % 

0.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 16.5 IBUs 
0.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - Boil 10.0 min Hop 6 6.0 IBUs 
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon Ginger, 1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon Clove.

1.0 pkg British Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1098) 

Est Original Gravity: 1.057 SG 
Measured Original Gravity: 1.055 SG 
 Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG 
Measured Final Gravity: 1.015 SG 
Bitterness: 22.5 IBUs 
Est Color: 25.4 SRM 

Mash Name: BIAB, Medium Body  152*

Alright!  I admit it; I had a bit of a moral breakdown.  Come on though, don’t we all every once and awhile? One fine evening a while back I noticed on a homebrew forum that someone posted about the Northern Brewer’s extract IIPA kit being listed for $21 at the checkout when it was priced at $55 on the product page.  I had a few homebrews in me, thought about how this is probably a mistake
by some internet guy they hired because there was no sale going on, decided it may be morally wrong to take advantage of said mistake and did it anyways.  Long story short, I now have a IIPA kit that I don’t really want because I don’t like brewing giant beers that clog up a keg line for months.  So I needed something to do.

First things first, I decided definitely not to brew this beer.  I made it a few years back as an extract brewer and wasn’t crazy about it. It was too malty and not hoppy enough for my tastes.  So, with that decision made I needed to decide what to do with the ingredients.

This is what I came up with:
Step One:  Canning starter wort for future use.  I used half of a six pound container of LME in two gallons of water, boiled for fifteen minutes and then added to cleaned and sanitized mason jars.  Not sure if I need to boil the wort or clean and sanitize since these
will boil in the pressure cooker but never hurts to be safe right?  Pressure cooking jars 15PSI heats liquids to about 240* which kills
everything making cans of starter work safe to use right out of the jar.  It’s time consuming up front but saves time making starters in the future.  It would have been less time consuming had I possessed a pressure cooker that held more than five jars at once but chalk that up to user error. 

Step Two:  Brew  IPA.  I choose to do a 2.5 gallon BIAB IPA with a simple grain bill and hopped up with a mixture of Summit, Centennial and two ounces of Cascade.  I mixed all of them together, averaged the Alpha Acid percentage to be
about 10% and bittered with a half ounce at 60 minutes before dumping in half ounce increments at 15, 10, 5, and then a remaining 1.5 ounces at flameout for a fifteen minute aroma steep before cooling.   Contrary to my road map above I decided to use some British Ale II I had bottom cropped from a Bitter (more to come on that in a few weeks).  Not really to style but it was easy and cheap.  

Steps Three, Four and Five: To be determined.  Step three begins by finding out what kind of giant beer I want to do.  With a 10 gallon cooler as my mashtun I like the idea of cheating with malt extract for big beers so I don’t need to mash at a low water to grain ratio.  Step four will be the Session beer with the Glacier hops. And finally step five; the three remaining pounds of LME.  If I’m lazy this might go into step four.  If not, we’ll see.  Maybe I’ll can more starter wort but I don’t really want to do that in the near future again.  
Well, at least my moral lapse is going to result in potentially four beers with enough starter wort to do a bunch of yeast starters. 
So, in the long run I guess I don’t feel too bad about taking advantage of a glitch in the system.
This was supposed to be my run at an Americanized session beer which basically means a hop forward, low gravity American Pale Ale.  That said, I was a bit too good at extracting sugars that day and it wound up being a regular old APA.  Oh well, you live and you learn.  Anyways, without further adieu, the Galaxy Pale Ale 

Aroma:  Hops, hops and more hops!  This is a good smelling beer.  A nice combination of citrus notes from the Cascade additions with a faint fruitiness from the  Galaxy hops.  

Appearance:  What could be a nice deep orange hue with an off white head gets blurred out with haziness from the dry hop addition.  Wish I had snagged a picture before adding the hops because it looked good at first.  

Flavor:  What you get first in the nose comes through in full force as soon as you take a sip.  Hop domination with a heavy dose of that classic Cascade flavor mixed in with fruity notes from the Galaxy.  Any kind of malt flavor or sweetness from the Vienna or Caravienna is hidden or balanced out by the hop presence.  Not really picking up anything from the Biscuit malt either.   

Mouthfeel:  Medium body and good carbonation.  Smooth at first but almost finishes a bit harsh with the hop bitterness lingering.  

Overall Impressions: It’s a nice beer and it’s getting to where I want it to go but not there yet. A little heavy on the hops for what was supposed to be a lighter APA but I think it’s good.  Now come the questions: what to do next time with all this in mind.  As far as I see it I have two options:
     1.   Downgrade to the Sessionized American Pale Ale this was supposed to be.  Honestly I like the grainbill and what I got out of this beer so just shrinking the recipe to hit 1.040 could work.  Another option is subbing in Maris Otter which if going smaller could add some complexity to the beer and is never a terrible idea in my opinion.  If I go down in gravity the hops would need to go down as well.  I think Galaxy can be a bit dominating but I like the flavor a lot but they are a bit much so a lower AA hop might be a better option for a low gravity beer. Perhaps hopbursting at the end without a traditional bittering addition.
Maybe dropping an addition or two or no dry hopping.  Either way, while good, it’s a bit too hoppy now for a session beer.
     2.  Leave it as is and keep a good traditional APA.  But there are still some things to consider here.  I could up the gravity a tad to better balance the hops.  And it still couldn’t hurt from a bit less intensity in terms of bitterness so maybe edging out an addition here or there.  Maybe using a darker crystal malt for a bit more residual sweetness or using a higher mash temperature.  
    3.  That's right, I said two option but now I've thought of a third which boils down to two different beers as described in options one and two.  Make changes to this beer as outined in #2 while making a slightly newer recipe with a less intense hop as outlined in #1.  Ah decisions, decisions.  Life is hard.

Last night I got to experience three of my favorite things:  beer, music and free stuff.  I know, heaven on earth right?  My girlfriend won a pair of free tickets to see Stars from our local public radio music station The Current so the night started with as a trip to the Triple Rock (think local hipster, punk dive bar/small music venue). I had no idea who Stars were and we’ll get to that later just for fun but the real star of the night was the unexpected availability of Surly Darkness on

For those of you not familiar with it Surly Darkness is a  seasonal Russian Imperial Stout which has adopted a bit of a cult following here in the craft beer world.  People line up the night before and camp outside the brewery to get in line for Darkness Day.  I have never gone but a limited amount of tickets are given away allowing people to purchase up to six bottles before it goes on sale to the general public. With this cult fandom in mind and my reluctance to go out of my way for a beer I wasn’t expecting to get a bottle or to find it at the bar so you can guess my excitement when I realized it was on tap.  
I’m writing this from recollection but the main thing to take away is not the details but rather the fact that this beer is fantastic.  It’s everything a gigantic stout should be.  It lives up to the name and appears as dark and evil in the glass as the dead horror monsters drawn up for the art work on the can.  It smells out of this world with toffee, caramel sweetness and roast malts.  The first sip is pure bliss with a heavy sweetness that actually balances out well with the hop bitterness so they each mesh together into an extremely
intense yet pleasant combination.  For a ten percent beer this is insanely drinkable yet being a huge ten percent beer on a Monday evening I could only bring myself to have one which is a decision I am already regretting.  In our society today things are often hyped up beyond how good they actually are but Surly Darkness is not one of them. 

So, with a Darkness warming my belly and a somewhat lighter beer in hand the band I’ve never heard of started.  If you have to generically lump Stars into a category I’d say they are somewhat of an indie rock band (whatever that means?) with a heavy mix of synthesizers, bass and a mix of both female and male vocals.  Of the six members only the drummer and lead guitarist held their instruments through the whole show while the other four members swapped between keyboards, bass guitars, an assortment of synthesizers, acoustic and electric guitars and even some kind of odd keyboard/harmonica.  The resulting music was a collection of heavily layered danceable rock tunes that seemed to alternate from synth to guitar heavy between every song.  Not always my bag of tea, but Stars were well worth it for a free show at which I had one of the best beers I’ve ever  had.