Monday, September 30, 2013

Pumpkin's Vengeance!

Time for an update the infamous Pumpacolypse Brau!  And no, this one will not be done in over the top 80's horror writer style.  Oh, and apparently the crazy brew session from last post was actually done on the advent of the Harvest Moon.  No wonder things got weird!

After we left our poor Mike Lebben (continuing a 3 hour sparge I believe) he had thrown a lid on the wort and gone to a much needed rest.  This is not standard practice, but hey everyone needs sleep so who am I to judge--I snuck out early after all. 

Here is the sludge left over after the sparge.  Perhaps too much pumpkin?

By 8:45 the next morning, like a proper trooper, Mike was starting to boil this hot mess into a foamy creamy pumpkin wort slurry.  He boiled for 60 minutes with a vigorous rolling boil.  There was only one hop addition (just over an ounce of Chinook at 60 minutes) for the whole 12 gallon batch.  This is to be a very malt forward beer.  Apparently there were no disturbances with the pumpkin gods for this part of the brew!

Near the end of the boil Mike added Irish Moss (for clarity...maybe we should have used a ton of this), Wyeast yeast nutrient, and pumpkin pie spice.  We kept the spice down a bit...we can always add more later if needed, but you can't pull it out once it is in there!
After chilling with his handy Chill Wizard system from Sabco, he oxygenated the beer well and placed it in an enormous 15 gallon glass carboy.  I've seen Mike haul this around filled with beer before...that man must be an X-Men mutant or something.  Final gravity was 1.068 (before adding the honey and maple syrup I believe.)  By day 2 this thing was fermenting like mad.  With about 20% headspace in the demi, this evil beast of a beer managed to fill the blow off tube, the blow-off bucket and then spill onto the floor--as if making one last desperate attempt to escape its captors.  But Mike was not to be beat this late in the game.
Jack'd Up, 3rd Street Brewing (Cold Spring):  This is described as an Autumn Ale, and does not actually contain any pumpkin.  It does have pumpkin spices however. 
Aroma: Tannic and earthy.  Hints of Cinnamon and Ginger.  No hops.  Almost no malt.
Appearance: Gold in color, lighter than most examples.  Fine white head that fades fairly quickly.  Slight haze.
Flavor:  Not very sweet, in fact not much malt flavor at all.  Ends very dry with a hint of spices.  Ginger stronger in flavor than in aroma.  Has a fairly notable astringent bite in the finish.  Might have some hop bitterness.  As it warms the astringent finish makes me not want to drink more, reminding me of soap.
Overall:  Not balanced enough.  It lacks body and complexity, more like a cream ale with a touch of spices.  The astringency is overwhelming for such a light beer.  I have yet to really like a beer from these guys, and this is no exception.  I try not to be a hater, but after tasting 5 beers from a brewery and not finding any of them pleasant to drink, I tend to give up.  I'd rate this one a 2 of 5.  I save 1's for outright infected beers.
New Holland Ichabod: This is one of the venerable craft pumpkin beers, first debuted in 1997.  I've had it before, but figured I'd try it out with all the rest this year. 
Aroma: Starts out with a strong nutmeg aroma, followed by some earthy pumpkin flesh.  There is some malty sweet grain in the background, but the spice dominates.
Appearance: orange to copper in color with a large off-white head.  There is a bit of haze to this one as well.
Flavor: Like the aroma, has a strong up-front nutmeg flavor.  The malt/grain sweetness arrives late on the palate.  This ends fairly dry with a bit of tannic astringency.  A bit tart and earthy.  As it warms I can pick out more cinnamon.  The body is a little thin for my tastes. 
Overall: A fairly well balanced beer.  I would like a bit more malt or body to this, but loads better than the Jack'd Up.  Not a ton of depth to this beer, but does have a real pumpkin taste.  I give it a 3 of 5.
Next Up:  My marinated musings on Autumn Brew Review as well as even more pumpkin beer reviews.

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