Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin Porter

Ah, beer. As Homer says, the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.

It's definitely fall now in Chicago. The farmer's markets are exploding with harvest-season produce, most of it in gourd and pomme form. Apples and pumpkins from Michigan, acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash from Illinois and Wisconsin, root vegetables from Indiana. There are even a few end-of-season cherry tomatoes hanging on stoically. Combine that with the chilly, damp weather and heavy leaden clouds floating over Lake Michigan, and it is apparent that fall has fallen. Which puts me in a brewing mood like none other.

I woke up in a particularly good mood on Saturday morning, because I knew I was gonna spend all day making beer. This particular recipe is especially time-consuming, because it involves roasting a whole pumpkin, mashing it up, and steeping it with the grains for 45 minutes. In light of that, this one needs an early start. I broke up the whole business a little by playing some Ultimate Frisbee, but that just made coming back to the brew and drinking a couple beers that much more enjoyable.

Niclexa Halloween Ale
(Adapted from Sam Calgione's "Punkin' Porter")

The name of this beer is in honor of Nicole Skurich and Alexa Nelson, two of my close friends from when I studied abroad in Germany. They lived together in Madison, WI during our senior year of college and hosted a big study-abroad reunion during Halloween weekend 2007. All of my close circle of AYFers showed up to that party, and it was one of my favorite weekends during senior year.

1 (3-4 pound) baking pumpkin
2 tsp Gypsum
1 pound crushed Black Patent malt
1.5 pounds crushed 6-row malt
3.3 pounds Light liquid malt extract
3 pounds Amber dry malt extract
1 pound Dark dry malt extract
1 oz. Brewer's Gold pellet hops (bittering)
2 tsp. Irish moss
1 oz. Cascade pellet hops (flavor)
0.5 oz. Fuggles pellet hops (aroma)
1 tsp Ground Allspice
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale yeast

1. Wash, gut, and skin pumpkin. Chop it into ~1 inch cubes and roast 1 hour at 350 degrees F. After it's done roasting, dump the chunks in a pot and cover them with water. Bring to a low boil for 20 minutes.

2. Dump the pumpkin chunks and water through a strainer, letting the water run into your brewpot. Mash the pumpkin with a potato masher and place in a muslin grain bag. Add ~1.5 gallons of water and steep 45 minutes at ~155 degrees F with the Black Patent and 6-row malts. (This is called "mashing" - the enzymes and sugars in the malt will steep out like tea, as will the sugars in the pumpkin; the enzymes in the 6-row malt should also convert some of the pumpkin starches to sugar during this process, increasing your yield and heightening the pumpkin flavor of the beer). After mashing, remove the grains and pumpkin and wash with ~2.5 gallons cold water (this is called "sparging," and aside from being an awesome word it will make sure that all the available sugars from the grains are in your wort).

3. Bring the wort to a boil. When it starts to bubble, turn off the heat and stir in the liquid and dry malt extracts (stirring prevents clumping and burning to the bottom of the pot). Bring back to a boil and pre-boil for 5 minutes.

4. Add the Brewer's Gold pellets and stir. Start your 60 minute timer when you make this addition.

5. 20 minutes before the end of the boil, add the Cascade hops and Irish moss. Stir.

6. 7.5 minutes before the end of the boil, add the Cinnamon, Allspice, and Nutmeg. Stir to achieve homogeneity and to break up any clumps.

7. At the 60 minute mark, add the Fuggles hops and turn off the heat. Stir the wort for 2 minutes to build up a whirlpool and let sit for 10 minutes.

8. Chill the wort to ~75 degrees F. I used a wort chiller for the first time around - I'm borrowing it from my friend Chris, who taught me how to brew in the first place. For the uninitiated, a wort chiller is a coil of copper wire through which you run tapwater. You place it in the wort, turn on the faucet, and the water inside the coils soaks up the heat and dumps it into the sink. Instead of taking 3-4 hours, as with an icewater bath, it makes the cooling process last about 15 minutes. I sanitized the wort chiller by immersing it in the boiling wort 20 minutes before I turned off the heat.
9. Pitch the yeast into the carboy and aerate for 1 minute. Maintain ~7 weeks at a temperature of ~65 degrees F. After 7 days (once primary fermentation is over), rack the beer off the pumpkin and yeast sediment to a secondary fermenter and let sit for 2 weeks.

10. Once your secondary fermentation is done, boil 3/4 cup corn sugar in 1 cup of water, add it to your beer, and bottle it. The beer should be ready to drink in about 2 weeks (on Halloween for me, if everything goes according to plan).

Original Gravity: 1.072
Finishing Gravity: -
ABV: -

9/27/10: I tasted the unfermented wort before pitching the yeast, and I can already tell this is gonna be a good beer. Lots of dark, coffee-like, malty flavor, with a finish of pumpkin pie and a lingering, pleasant bitterness from the hops. The fermentation took off right on schedule, about 12-15 hours after pitching the yeast. It's bubbling away happily underneath my desk.

No comments:

Post a Comment