Today I’m posting a dual guest review from my friend W.L. Wittstruck. He has been a featured guest blogger on LIBA in the past. He also happened to be the winner of the CANFEST loot. Many thanks to W.L. for being an active follower and guest reviewer here on LIBA!
My wife and I hit our local specialty brew shop and found a couple of pumpkin beers to try over Halloween. And for those who’d like to try and make their own pumpkin beer a recipe from when we used to home brew.
When I saw this bottle on the shelf, the label jumped out at me and instantly grabbed my attention. The owl with moon behind it… great imagery! Had to have it and give it a try.
The brew was a nice golden color and had a moderate 1-2 finger head. While pumpkin spices were noticeable, they weren’t overwhelming.
The first sip was pretty good, but not what I expected. The hops seemed stronger than the pumpkin spices. This seemed odd to me. With only 20 IBU’s they should be much more subtle. The pumpkin spices were very well balanced, but didn’t linger. I was disappointed to say the least.
They had all the right ingredients, including roasted and raw pumpkin seeds along with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice, but failed to hit the mark for me.
In contrast the Elysian label, Kennebunkport Brewing Company’s Pumpkin Ale had a much more classic label. Even though the label didn’t grab us the same way, we had never tried it and decided to give it a go.
This beer had a nice golden color and a decent 1-2 finger head to top it off. The flavor was a complete 180 from the Elysian. There was no shortage of spices and all of the traditional flavors you’d come to expect from a pumpkin beer were present and accounted for. The flavors lingered after each sip.
We both preferred this over the Night Owl and thought it had the right amount of carbonation to balance with the spices. The hops played the role of supporting cast and added just a bit of spiciness to the mix.
The only thing I’d change would be a heavier malt presence. This was very smooth and drinkable, but could have been a tad heartier for my tastes. We were both very pleased with this seasonal brew.
*And now for the bonus recipe!*
This recipe is based on one we found in a home brewing book. In our version we used pure pumpkin from a can while the original recipe used sugar pumpkins. This is a very hearty brew that’s great for drinking and for cooking. It has been about 10 years since we brewed so we’re a bit out of the loop on what ingredients are available.
*Pumpkin Jack Ale*
7 lbs. Amber malt extract
1 lb. Chocolate malt, crushed
1 lb. Crystal malt 40° L, crushed
3-4 lbs. Pure pumpkin (2-29oz cans)
2 ½ oz. Northern Brewer hops
1 oz. Tettnanger hops
½ oz. Saaz hops
6 sticks Cinnamon
1 tbsp. Allspice
2-3 tsp. Whole Cloves
1 tbsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp. Irish Moss
1 pkg Wyeast #1007 German Ale Yeast
1. In a brew pot containing 2 gallons of hot tap water, steep crushed Chocolate & Crystal malt. (This should take 20-30 minutes as you slowly bring the water to a boil)
2. Remove the brew pot from the burner and remove the grains.
3. Add and dissolve the Amber Malt extract and put the brew pot back on the stove. (Removing it from the heat will keep the malt extract from burning while you stir and dissolve it)
4. Bring it back to a boil and add the Northern Brewer hops, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. Boil for 30 minutes.
5. Add the Tettnanger hops and Irish Moss and boil for 20 minutes.
6. Add the pumpkin and boil for 5 minutes.
7. Add the Saaz hops and boil for 5 minutes.
8. Remove from the burner and force cool in a sink of ice water until the wort reaches about 100° F.
9. Add 1 ½ – 2 gallons of cold water to your fermenter and add the wort. Top off to 5 gallons and take/record your Original Gravity (OG) reading.
10. When the wort reaches 75° F, pitch the yeast.
11. Ferment 1 week and rack to secondary. You may also want to rack again before bottling.
The original recipe called for 3-4 weeks, but ours only needed 10 days before it was ready to bottle. We let it condition in the bottle for another week or two. This is one beer that definitely got better with age. Over time the spices and malt mixed together really well.
W.L. is a former home brewer who still appreciates a finely crafted beer. In his spare time he now makes no-budget independent films with his wife and 4D4Films. You can follow 4D4Films on the web and on Twitter.