We know it's almost Fall when pumpkin beers hit the shelves. It seems every year that this happens earlier and earlier. No complaints here. Pumpkin beers are the most anticipated, sought-after seasonal around, gaining even more popularity each year.
Pumpkin beers fall under the "Spice, Herb, or Vegatable Beer" category under the Beer Judge Certificiation Program. For those unfamiliar, BJCP publishes style guidelines and promotes both literacy and appreciation of beer. This particular category is extremely broad. The beers range in alcohol content and color, usually with an orangey tint if using real pumpkins or puree. Typically, they start from a specific base under the BJCP such as Amber, Porter, Wheat, etc. From the heavily-spiced ale, to the more subtle, or even boozy, there is something for everyone to enjoy. A couple of my favorites this season include the ever-so-popular liquid pumpkin pie known as Southern Tier Pumpking, and Sam Adams Fat Jack, a double pumpkin ale with sweet caramel malts.
A lot of my inspiration in brewing comes from delicious beers that I enjoy and also from mixing multiple beers as a bartender. When it came to brewing my own favorite seasonal, I envisioned a pumpkin ale mixed with a vanilla stout. So I got to work to create a pilot batch for this decided Imperial Pumpkin Stout that we're internally calling, "Plunderin' Pumpkin." This brew sits in at 8% ABV with 52 IBUs. It has a two-row base with Victory, Caramel, and Chocolate malts. For the pilot batch, I added four pounds of organic pumpkin puree to the mash, along with traditional pumpkin spices in the boil, and pour organic vanilla beans to the secondary.
This creates certain issues when we eventually scale "Plunderin' Pumpkin" up to a 30bbl commercial brew. More than 700 pounds of pumpkin will be taking over the mash tun, contributing an authentic, scrumptious flavor. 700 pounds of pumpkin isn't exactly something we can just go buy at the local super market. So, we're working on that. Depending on when construction is completed, we might try to quickly brew this for the holidays. Otherwise, we will have a whole year to source the pumpkin and perfect the recipe. If we are unable to make it this year, we look forward to releasing "Plunderin' Pumpkin" next Fall. Cheers!