Back to making beer

American pale ale For the first time since before Amelia was born, I made beer! An American pale ale is now chugging away in our dining room: my standard recipe, with Alexander pale malt, Chinook kettle hops, and Cascade to finish. Hopefully I’ll follow through on this. My last batch of beer is sitting in the basement, reminding me not to over-commit. (I wonder if pale ale vinegar is any good.) Part of the reason this should go better: I’m not going it alone. Chris Delany-Barmann has volunteered to help me brew and bottle. When I most recently brewed, Tom Irish and I partnered, sharing labor, motivation, and yeast. Brewing wise, there are many things much easier with an extra pair of hands.

This week, Chris and I are going to brew Thursday. Kelly Quinn is going to join us, too. Since, like last year, Erin and I have pumpkins volunteering out of the compost pile (though not in a tree), I think a pumpkin ale is in order. However, I don’t want six gallons of the stuff. So I’m planning to split a batch into pumpkin ale and porter (Erin’s favorite style). Here’s the plan:

Main boil: five gallons water, 1 lb crystal malt, 8 lb amber extract, 1 oz Centennial hops (bittering).

Porter: one gallon water, 0.25 lb black patent malt, 0.5 lb chocolate malt, 0.25 lb roasted barley, 1 oz Cascade hops (finish).

Pumpkin ale: one gallon water, 3 lbs roasted pumpkin, 0.25 pc nutmeg, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 pc ginger, 1 oz Mt Hood hops (finish).

We’ll start the main boil with the crystal malt in my grain bag, making tea, then add the extract and bittering hops for a 60-75 minute boil. In two smaller pots, we’ll make tea with the dark grains, and steep the mashed pumpkin and spices. When the main boil is done, we’ll add the finishing hops to each side pot, and start chilling the main boil. I use an immersion chiller; this week, we’ll use my pre-chiller (a second copper coil dunked in an ice bath) to cool the main boil as much as possible.

We’ll pitch the entire main boil onto the yeast cake from the pale, then siphon back about 1.5 gallons into a small carboy for the pumpkin ale. Then we’ll strain each of the side mashes into their respective carboys. With a little luck, this will give us about 2.5 gallons of pumpkin ale, or about a case, and four gallons of porter, maybe a case and a half.

I think those spice amounts are right — I don’t want to overdo it. We can always add spices to secondary. More pictures and tasting notes to follow!

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5 Responses to Back to making beer

  1. Jacob says:

    Sounds like the last time you made beer was when I was over.

    Pumpkin beer can be fantastic if not too overly ‘seasoned.’ There is more than a handful of nasty beers who make seasonal beers that force the tastes so hard down your gullet that it makes it hard to justify buying a six pack. You know what your doing though, thought I’d just get that out there.

  2. cbd says:

    Ha, I think it may have been. Doh. Well, I should send you some of this pale, then!

    I totally agree on the spicing. I made a winter warmer which had a reasonable amount of spice though the balance was wrong — cloves overpowered the nutmeg and cinnamon. Hoping to avoid that this time.

  3. Michelle wardlow says:

    Looks like someone took vertical gardening to the next level! This might prove useful in the future…Maybe plant a tomato plant there next time! Free trellis, and it ain’t goin anywhere either!

  4. Glenn says:

    Glad to hear you’re brewing again Bradley. I just got a new sink put in our basement so that I could get brewing in our new house. I’ve got the garden spot planned for starting a hop crop next year.

    • cbd says:

      Thanks, Glenn. We brewed again today; the fermenters are chugging along behind me. I love pitching onto yeast cakes! Maybe I’ll get a chance to write it up tomorrow.

      If you plan more than one kind of hop, spread ’em out. A friend here had a nice crop–he made a wet hop brown that was fantastic–though the hops were all mixed together.

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