Pumpkin Ale! And More!

Five months. That’s how long it’s been since the last time I posted here. Damn, I feel like a terrible person. I promised you all something delicious and never delivered. Today, I make good on that promise, and give you a little tease of some awesome things to come!

Today I’m going to give you my (not-so) secret recipe. The one that everyone goes nuts for. The one that has stories told about it. Legends have sprung forth from the shenanigans this beer has caused, and with good reason. Because every Halloween, for the last three years (2009-2011) I have brewed this beer, and every year the batch has been gone completely (as in the keg has kicked) within 6 hours of the party starting.

First, though, a little background information about this recipe. Most importantly, it’s not actually mine. Not originally. While I take full credit for the changes that I’ve made to it since the recipe was given to me, the original recipe that I made in 2009 (and have since modified heavily) came from Joe Gallo, owner of How Do You Brew in Newark, Delaware. Joe is one of the most awesome brewers I know, and willingly shares his recipes with anyone who wants to know. If you’re in northern Delaware, northeastern Maryland, or southeastern Pennsylvania, I highly recommend you check out his shop.

That said, I first picked up a copy of the recipe back in September of 2009, along with the ingredients I needed to make it. I brewed it up, put it in the fermenter, and waited patiently for it to be ready to move into secondary. Three weeks later, as I was getting ready to rack it, the worst had happened.

The beer had gone sour.

Now, I don’t mean it had a slight lacto twang to it that could have been covered up with a bit of heavier spicing. No. I mean a full-on, in-your-face, oh-gods-this-is-almost-lambic SOUR taste. Somehow, the batch had gotten infected. I was still pretty new to brewing at that point, so I did something I would now consider unthinkable.

I dumped the batch down the drain.

Looking back on it, even a few months later, I felt very bad about doing it. Had I let it sit, let the funky bacteria do their work, I might have had an amazingly complex and delicious pumpkin sour beer about six months later, one that would have been hitting its prime for the next Halloween. Instead, I was in full-blown panic mode, wondering how in the world I was going to get another batch brewed and packaged in the less than six weeks I had until Halloween.

Somehow, I did it. I went, bought another round of ingredients, brewed it again, and got it done in time. The second time around I made doubly sure I sanitized EVERYTHING. Since then, I have been absolutely nuts about sanitation. Losing a $90 batch of beer will do that to you. The fact that a dollar’s worth of Star-San would have prevented that entire situation has never been lost on me. I know I’m a broken record on this particular subject, but I firmly believe it can never be stressed enough: KEEP THINGS CLEAN. Treat your equipment well and it shall treat you well.

ANYWAYS…All that being said, I think it’s time to get down to business.


BeerSmith Recipe Printout – http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: Vlad the Impairer 2011 #1
Brewer: Josh Martin
Asst Brewer:
Style: Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer
TYPE: Partial Mash

Recipe Specifications


Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Boil Size: 4.08 gal
Estimated OG: 1.105 SG
Estimated Color: 20.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 25.5 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes



4 lbs Pumpkin Pureé (only pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling!!!!)

lbs Amber Dry Extract (12.5 SRM)
3 lbs Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM)
3 lbs Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM)
2 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM)
8.0 oz Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM)
8.0 oz Honey Malt (25.0 SRM)
2.00 oz Cascade [6.40 %] (60 min)
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [4.50 %] (15 min)
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [4.50 %] (5 min)
1 lbs Brown Sugar, Light
4.0 oz Maple Syrup
2 Pkgs Danstar Nottingham Ale Yeast

Steep the pumpkin puree for 30 minutes at 160°F in one gallon of water. At the same time, steep the grains for 30 minutes at 160°F in a separate gallon of water. Then, discard pumpkin, add pumpkin water to the grains, and continue to steep for another 15 minutes. Then discard grains and use the mini-wort to start brewing with. Follow the hop addition schedule as shown, also adding Irish moss at 10 minutes left in the boil. Chill to 68°F and pitch yeast.  Ferment in primary for one month, then rack to secondary.

Add the following spices to the secondary: 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tbsp ground allspice, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground mace. Boil in 4 cups of water with the brown sugar and maple syrup for 5 minutes prior to adding to secondary. Ferment in secondary for two weeks. Rack to bottling bucket and package as you desire. This beer does well either in bottles or in a keg.

I highly recommend starting this one in August if you can, September if pumpkin isn’t available until then. Basically, the longer you can give this to ferment, the better it will come out. Even so, I usually don’t start it until mid-September and it always has come out amazingly well. One last point: DON’T SKIMP ON YEAST. Double-pitch this one. More yeast = faster, cleaner ferment, and with a short time scale to make this on you need every advantage you can get.

And now, the tease! For those of you who follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t, why the hell not? I’m @tworavensbrew), you may have seen that I was brewing my Irish Red Ale this past weekend…AND FILMING IT! That’s right, I made a how-to-brew video. Well, I actually just brewed some beer and talked at the camera while my friend filmed. She’s doing the editing. It’ll be up in about a month or so. I’ll post it here and on YouTube when it’s done. I’m excited. Hopefully this is the first of many brewing videos for me.

Well folks, that’s all for today. It’s been a long time between the last post and this one. Here’s to it not being nearly so long to the next one. In the mean time, happy brewing!



About Josh

I'm an engineer, brewer, vintner, gamer, hiker, biker, and many other "-ers" besides. I grew up in Connecticut, but now live and work in Delaware. This is where I put various ramblings and musings, as well as tasty recipes for beer. Yes, beer. I brew my own beer, wine, cider, mead, and other fun fermented beverages. It's fun, easy, inexpensive, and I love it. It's something I'd love to do professionally, but that's a plan for a future day. For now I work as a chemical engineer with a bunch of great people that I'm never going to talk about here. Have a great day, and good brewing to all!
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1 Response to Pumpkin Ale! And More!

  1. Pingback: Pumpkins and comics and beer, oh my! | Two Ravens Brewing

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