Sour Pumpkin Beer

>> Sunday, November 05, 2017

Yesterday we got started on a kettle-soured pumpkin beer, "we" being my buddies Brandon, Jeff, and I. We're a little later brewing this beer than we'd hoped because of GABF, vacations, and work commitments, but still within season for spiced holiday beers. I haven't brewed a pumpkin beer in a while. I like pumpkin beers...but they're not the type of beer I'm going to drink one after the other. That's another reason the three of us are brewing together; five gallons split three ways means I won't have it sitting around in my beer fridge for years (like the last time I brewed one).

As for the style...pumpkin beers essentially fall into the 30 - Spice Beer category, more specifically 30B - Autumn Beer. They may or may not use pumpkin in the recipe, but they typically use the same types of spices used in pumpkin pie. I prefer to skip the pumpkin as I think it doesn't add much and it can be a huge mess in the mash, boil, or wherever you choose to add it. Pumpkin beers are usually fermented with sach strains, often neutral ones like US-05 but English strains are also very common. We're going a little wild with our version. We're kettle-souring with lactobacillus p. courtesy of GoodBelly SuperShots, then we're going to ferment with Brett Barrel III yeast from Inland Island. The lacto and brett cultures mean this beer is probably more appropriate in category 28C Wild Specialty Beer than 30B.

There aren't a whole lot of commercial sour/wild pumpkin beers on the market, especially in Utah. The ones I've tried include Uinta's Funk'n Patch, Boulevard's Funky Pumpkin and Funkier Pumpkin. We're not trying to clone any specific commercial example, just shooting for something similar.

We decided to use the recipe for the Perfect Pumpkin Ale from Beer and Brewing for this brew. Recipe and process below.

Souring - Session #1
7.0# Crisp Maris Otter
3.0# Weyermann Munich II
2.0# Monastique Aromatic
14oz Weyermann Cara Munich II
1 - GoodBelly SuperShot

Mash at 155F, collect ~7 gallons, raise temp to 170F for 10 min, then chill to 100F and pitch GoodBelly SuperShot. Sour until pH is where you want it; I like minimum of 3.4.

Post-souring - Session #2
8.0oz dark brown sugar (90 min)
16g Northern Brewer (60 min)
5t Vietnamese Cinnamon (5 min)
1t Nutmeg (5 min)
1t Ginger (5 min)
3t Vanilla extract (secondary)
0.5 Whirlfloc
0.5t Yeast Nutrient
INIS-913 Brett Barrel III

90 min boil, ferment at room temp.

Brewing Notes
The first session went well. We ran into one minor issue - we accidentally collected a little over 8 gallons. We decided to boil it and condense it down to ~ 7 gallons. No other issues in this session. We'll come back in a week to finish the post-souring boil and spice additions.

Session 2 Notes -11/12/2017
I took a pH reading before starting the boil and we're at 3.34. No issues during the boil. The O.G. came in at 1.072.

Update 11/19/2017
Checked the gravity and it's down to 1.030. Sourness is fairly assertive. Re the spices, cinnamon seems to dominate right now, so we may need to bump them up at bottling.

Update 2/1/2018
We decide to let this one ride a bit and see if it improved. It's not bad, but definitely something I'd have a hard time even drinking a pint of. I'm not willing to dump it yet.