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Each autumn, shelves of beer stores around the country begin to take on an orange tint. Brightly colored labels announce the arrival of pumpkin beer, a fall seasonal with a long history in the U.S. Early colonists made beer entirely from the plentiful orange squash, because malted barley was tough to find.
Modern breweries don’t need to go to those extremes, but instead add pumpkin and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to different ales. Some of these beers are very heavy and sugary — Southern Tier Pumking is a good example — while others are less extreme, such as Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, which balances the sweet spices with the bitterness of hops.
Issues at Hand
All types of the style have been on the rise in recent years, along with craft beer in general, which has led many breweries to up production and release these so-called autumn beers as early as August. Some beer aficionados have complained about this (just like you hate seeing the Christmas displays pop up like weeds the day after Halloween, they hate the proliferation of pumpkin beers in August). For example, Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn recently tweeted this: "@sixpoint Any pumpkin beer on shelves now is clearly not made with this year's pumpkin. Pumpkins are not harvested until October or November."
BeerPulse even picked up on the mini controversy and put the question to its readers. We asked around a bit to get some other brewers’ takes on the subject. Do they use fresh pumpkin at all? Does it matter if the pumpkin is from "this year"? And why are we seeing pumpkins on the shelves before Labor Day?
Turns out most breweries do not in fact use "this year’s crop" to make their brew. "Since local pumpkin season isn’t until the fall, the timing doesn’t work out," Janelle Miley of Delaware’s Dogfish Head tells us, explaining, "We have to brew all of the Punkin in the summer in order to have it on the shelves in the fall." For the record, Dogfish uses cooked, canned pumpkin for the 7 percent ABV Punkin, and it works out very well.
Easton, Pa.’s Weyerbacher also uses canned pumpkin, which ends up in its Imperial Pumpkin Ale, a hearty and caramelly 8 percent ABV take on the style. "All brewers who bottle their pumpkin that I know of are using canned," says founder and president Dan Weirback.
New Jersey’s River Horse Brewing Co. produces Hipp-O-Lantern, an 8.5 percent ABV ale brewed with molasses, and lead brewer Chris McGrath, spells it out like this:
"If you wait until October or November (to use this year's pumpkins), you run into a lot of issues. By the time the pumpkins are harvested, packaged, and shipped by the farmer, ordered by the brewery, delivered to said brewery, beer is brewed, fermented, conditioned, filtered, packaged, shipped to distributor, and then finally shipped the retailer or bar, you’re looking at a bare minimum of a two-month process; and realistically probably more like a three-month process. Which means the beer probably wouldn’t get to the consumer until the end of December, and now you have out of season beer."
Speaking of staying in season, are pumpkin beers being shipped earlier and earlier? McGrath has definitely seen a change, and says his microbrewery moved up production dates in order to meet increased demand. "We brewed four tanks of pumpkin in 2010, 11 in 2011, and this year we're on track to brew 25 tanks."
Michigan’s Arcadia Ales makes Jaw Jacker, a 6 percent ABV spiced beer that doesn’t actually have pumpkin in it but is often lumped in with the style, since it features all the spices one would use to make pumpkin pie. Production started one week earlier than last year, says head brewer Stacey Roth, due to an increase in sales. Dogfish, on the other hand, aims for a Sept. 1 release, a date that hasn’t changed since it began producing the style.
Sixpoint’s Autumnation is the odd one out, unique not only thanks to its use of this year’s pumpkin (we gather), but also just-harvested Citra hops. Using fresh hops is extremely rare in most of the beer world, especially for breweries outside the Pacific Northwest, where most hops are grown. The result is a very flavorful, fresh-tasting 6.7 percent ABV ale with much more hoppy flavor than others of this season.
So we suggest you try a few different pumpkin beers and stick with the ones that suit your palate, be they fresh or not. And if a few happen to make their way into your fridge before Labor Day, we promise we won’t tell.
— Danya Henninger, The Drink Nation
More From The Drink Nation:
Bonfire Beer: Five Craft Cans for Fall
10 Colorado Beers That Don't Lead to Bad Decisions
Beer Review: Captain Lawrence Golden Delicious
Pumpkin Ale Recipe - Feedback Appreciated!
So, I have been wanting to do a Pumpkin Ale recipe for the past few weeks but have probably looked at TOO much info on here. There are so many good recipes that I have decided to try my hand at creating one on my own (this is my third batch ever, BTW). I want to be able get the "pumpkin ale taste" for sure. I am not sure what the gravity readings would be on this, either. Hoping for something in the ABV range of 6-8?
If y'all could weigh in on your thoughts, I would really appreciate it! Want to get this done by end of week!!
5 Gallon Extract Recipe
8.25 lb Pale LME (could use DME??)
.5 lb Crystal 60L
.25 lb Special Roast
.5 lb Biscuit Malt
60 oz Canned Pumpkin at 60 min (I have read all the opinions on canned v real pumpkins. can't find real ones now so going canned. is 60 minutes the right call? later in boil?)
1 oz Hallertau at 60 min
1 oz Hallertau at 5 min
1 lb Light Brown Sugar at 10 min
Spices at 5 min (1/2 tsp each of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and clove. should I go more?)
Yeast: planning on 1056 as it is what I used in my first two batches. kinda scared to try another one for this brew. But how much yeast? Don't want to do starter yet, either. One pkg enough?
I plan to run wort through sieve into fermenter.
Planning to taste prior to secondary and add more spices and/or some vanilla.
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Myth #2: The beer can prevents the Maillard effect (a.k.a., flavorful browning) from occurring.
As far as the claim that that the beer can prevents the Maillard effect (a.k.a., flavorful browning) from occurring inside the cavity—well, I don’t know about you, but I look for the browning on the exterior. Dark crisp skin is, of course, the best part of a roast chicken and thanks to its vertical position and the fact that the skin on the back of the bird roasts as well as the skin on the breast, beer canning gives you all the crisp skin you could wish for.
I’ve never seen a chicken brown in the cavity. In fact, I often stuff a chicken with lemons or garlic or celery or herbs to flavor it from the inside out. What matters to me about the interior is flavor. I’ll save the Maillard effect—the luscious browning and cellophane crispness—for the skin.
To indulge, or not? Debunking myths about pumpkin treats
Fall brings about pumpkin-flavored mania at restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores around the Midwest.
A quick Google search for "pumpkin flavored food" turns up items like Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte, Pumpkin Spice Frosted Flakes cereal, Dairy Queen's Pumpkin Pie Blizzard, Hostess Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes, a Pumpkin Spice flavored RXBAR, and Blue Diamond Pumpkin Spice almonds.
Ellie Stamerjohn, a Dietetics Intern and Graduate student in the Master of Science in Dietetics program at Mount Mary University, said a pumpkin itself has plenty of nutritional value.
"Pumpkin is a fruit - it's in the squash family, but it's a fruit," Stamerjohn said. "It's high in Vitamin A, which is great for skin health, for eye health, and has protective qualities against cardiovascular disease."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends a Daily Value (DV) of 5,000 International Units (IU) of Vitamin A from a varied diet of both plant and animal foods.
One half cup of canned, pureed pumpkin contains approximately 250% DV of Vitamin A.
Taylor Prellberg, also a Dietetics Intern and Master of Science in Dietetics student at Mount Mary, said the only difference between canned and fresh pumpkin is Vitamin C content.
"Vitamin C is very sensitive, so when anything is done to it, it breaks down easier. When it's made into a canned form, it does break down slightly," she said.
Vitamin C, of course, helps support your immune system.
"But there are so many Vitamin C sources out there, it wouldn't be a nutrient I'd be concerned with, when it comes to pumpkin," Prellberg added.
Prellberg cautioned that consuming pumpkin or pumpkin spice food and drink doesn't guarantee the Vitamin A benefits.
She noted many popular products, citing the Pumpkin Spice Latte as an example, contain pumpkin flavoring but no actual pumpkin.
Prellberg recommends always reading a product's nutrition label to see if a pumpkin-flavored item actually contains real pumpkin.
"Things listed first on the label are used in the highest quantity," she said. "So keep an eye on whether pumpkin is one of the last things listed. If it is, there's only a small amount."
"When you take the pumpkin away, the health benefits go away too. The flavoring is just artificial," Prellberg said.
She said items like pumpkin pie or pumpkin bars, which do use real pumpkin, also contain high amounts of sugar and should be eaten sparingly.
"You're still getting the Vitamin A," she said. "But because of the sugar, you don't want to eat those in excess."
As part of their work at Mount Mary University, both Prellberg and Stamerjohn contributed healthy, pumpkin-themed recipes to the website healthyshelves.org.
All recipes on the website align with current, dietary guidelines for Americans.
Stamerjohn developed no-bake, pumpkin energy bites containing puffed rice cereal, oats, canned pumpkin, peanut butter, chocolate chips, honey and cinnamon.
You can view the full recipe by clicking here.
"They're high in fiber with the pumpkin and the oats, but low in added sugar with only a tablespoon and a half of honey," Stamerjohn said. "There are also a lot of healthy fats from the peanut butter, so it's going to keep your blood sugar stable."
"You just store them in the fridge for about a week," she said.
Prellberg created a pumpkin soup.
"It has a can of the pureed pumpkin in it," she said.
Prellberg cooked the broth, along with celery and onions, in a pot for eight minutes before adding the pumpkin and a mix of frozen vegetables and bringing everything to a boil.
Prellberg said the cook time from there is only about 15 minutes.
"This is more of a savory take on pumpkin," she said.
Both students said the prevalence of pumpkins in grocery stores this fall presents a good opportunity to try out recipes like theirs - which use the fruit while limiting sugar.
"Since it's fall, pumpkin is everywhere," Stamerjohn said. "So it's a good time to build up on Vitamin A."
She said Vitamin A can also be found in other orange-colored fruits or vegetables - like carrots or peppers.
"Given most Americans lack vegetable intake, Vitamin A is probably something most people are lower in," Prellberg said.
Beer Department: Debunking the myth of “Helium beer” once and for all
Since April 1 is April Fool’s Day, I feel that this a good time to address one of those pesky misunderstandings about beer that just won’t seem to go away: helium beer. The myth is that there are one or more beers out there that are imbued with helium rather than carbon dioxide or nitrogen. Beer drinkers are keen to try this bizarre-sounding beer, excited to try a beer that also makes your voice high pitched. Our staff gets asked about the availability of helium beer from time to time and we even receive the occasional email inquiring as to where it can be purchased. The problem is, and I can’t stress this enough, helium beer does not, never has, and never will exist. Helium beer is no more a reality than the Loch Ness Monster, unicorns, or the strange old wives’ tale that swallowed pieces of bubblegum take years to digest. None of these are remotely grounded in observable reality, and yet, they persist. So where did the myth of helium beer get started?
As compared to the other myths I just mentioned, helium beer is a relatively new phenomenon and unique to the internet, that grand tool of disseminating misinformation to the masses. A few years back, several brewers from a few highly esteemed breweries, including Stone Brewing Co., began circulating videos of them drinking beer that was purported to be helium beer while their voices drifted ever higher into the stratosphere. These videos quickly went viral, garnering tens of millions of views and untold shares across platforms like Facebook and YouTube. The issue is that it was all an elaborate prank just the brewers having a bit of fun. The video effect of their voices becoming high pitched was achieved either through post-production software that manipulated the audio or seamless editing that allowed the brewers to suck down actual helium between takes. In the brewers’ defense, they may not have anticipated how seriously people would take the videos or how widely they would spread, but there’s no going back once you unleash that can of worms. So here we are, with a seemingly intractable hoax that continues to rear its ugly head. When I tell inquiring customers that helium beer doesn’t exist, they often don’t believe me and I thus have resorted to explaining the science to them.
The primary reason why helium beer can’t exist is that helium is completely insoluble in water. While CO2 and nitrogen are both, to varying degrees, soluble and will thus stay in solution once injected, helium will not. Helium is lighter than air and would, therefore, rise up and exit the beer completely. That’s really the crux of it: helium is insoluble in water and thus will not stay in beer. It’s that simple. And no, you can’t add liquid helium to a beer either. Helium changes from liquid to gas at -220 degrees Fahrenheit, so even adding liquid helium to beer in a carefully controlled laboratory setting wouldn’t work. The temperature would need to be so cold that the beer would instantly freeze solid. Given that helium gas wouldn’t stay in solution in beer and liquid helium has to be so bitterly cold that it would freeze beer, we can rightfully and unequivocally conclude that the laws of physics and chemistry dictate that helium beer is a scientific impossibility.
For the sake of argument, however, let’s assume that someone had earned a Nobel Prize for defying the laws of science and wanted to craft a helium beer. Helium is actually far more dangerous than inhaling a balloon might suggest. Helium replaces oxygen in your body and does so on a gradient, thus the more helium you breathe, the faster you will lose oxygen in your body. The worst thing that can happen from inhaling a balloon is you’ll get dizzy and temporarily pass out. Once unconscious, you’ll stop breathing helium and your blood oxygen levels will return to normal. However, prolonged exposure to concentrated levels of helium can actually pose a hazard for suffocation if your body isn’t getting enough oxygen. There have actually been deaths reported from helium overdoses in very rare, unusual circumstances. Given the risk associated with helium, I’d be willing to bet that our various government regulatory agencies would never dream of approving a beer with these kinds of risks.
So there you have it, a (hopefully) succinct exploration of why helium beer simply cannot exist. So the next time someone strikes up a conversation about it, you can politely inform them of just how wrong they are. Besides, Jungle Jim’s has way too many delicious beers that don’t have helium in them. Stop by and grab some. Cheers!
And even though the ship did sink, Mr Maltin said she did so 'on an even keel' and it took two and a half hours.
By contrast, he highlighted the example of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which 'rolled over much more quickly' during the disaster in 2012 off the coast of an Italian island.
'So actually you could say Titanic was safer than modern ships are today,' Mr Maltin claimed.
The crew didn't have binoculars and so could not spot the iceberg in time
Before the Titanic left Southampton, there was a reordering of the officers – with Henry Wilde coming over from the RMS Olympic with Captain Edward Smith.
As a result Second Officer David Blair left the Titanic and it is thought he took the key to the cabin with him, which would have given officers access to a binoculars case.
Speaking to presenter and fellow historian Dan Snow, Mr Maltin conceded in the History Hit documentary that 'there were no binoculars in the crow's nest that night.'
However, he explained that the best way to detect icebergs at night is with the naked eye.
Speaking to presenter and fellow historian Dan Snow, Mr Maltin conceded in the History Hit documentary that 'there were no binoculars in the crow's nest that night.' However, he explained that the best way to detect icebergs at night is with the naked eye. Pictured: The Titanic's lookout, Frederick Fleet, who issued the warning about the iceberg
'That's because the naked eye has a wide field of vision and that helps the way that we detect objects,' he said.
'Whereas, if you're trying to look through binoculars, it is really hopeless because the binoculars are used to inspect an object you've already detected.'
Mr Maltin in fact argued that, had they had binoculars, the crew would have been slowed down in declaring news of the iceberg to the ship's bridge.
He added: 'Instead of thinking "is that an iceberg or not" and checking it out with the binoculars, they just rang the bell three times which meant "iceberg, dead ahead".
Captain Smith then ordered the ship's crew to take evasive action but was not able to turn quickly enough to fully avoid the ice.
Titanic tipped up and sank horizontally
In the 1997 Hollywood film about the disaster, which stars Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet, the Titanic splits in two before the bow (front) tips up horizontally.
However, Mr Maltin said this is not how the vessel actually sank.
Because the iceberg struck the ship near the front on its starboard (right) side, that was were water flowed into the vessel.
It meant that the stern was lifted out of the water and then broke away.
But because it was 'so well sub-divided', Mr Maltin said it 'crashed back down' on to the water.
In the 1997 Hollywood film about the disaster, which stars Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet, the Titanic splits in two before the bow (front) tips up horizontally
The passengers who were on the stern, which was 'almost everyone at that stage' actually then thought they were 'going to be fine'.
However, because the bow was having a 'tug of the war' with the stern as it sank, it did terminal damage to the still-floating rear part.
Mr Maltin said: '[It] did so much damage pulling at her keel that the damage to the stern that was caused by the bow was greater than the damage caused by the iceberg.'
Despite the film scenes of the Titanic violently sinking as passengers clung on to its rails, Mr Maltin said the stern in fact 'sank very quietly', allowing remaining passengers to swim off it.
One passenger remarked that his head did not get wet as he swam away, Mr Maltin said.
The third class passengers were locked below deck while the others escaped
In James Cameron's 1997 film, third class passengers are seen being locked below deck beneath huge metal gates.
However, this is not actually what happened.
Mr Malton said: 'In fact, first class stewards were sent straight down to the third class to tell people exactly where the boats were.'
It is true that there were gates which separated first, second and third class. But this was a legal requirement set by US immigration authorities to avoid the spread of infectious diseases.
'The law was that no passenger ship could go to America without these gates shut. It was only in a state of emergency that the gates were allowed to be opened,' Mr Maltin said.
In James Cameron's 1997 film, third class passengers are seen being locked below deck beneath huge metal gates. However, this is not actually what happened
On the Titanic, the gates were opened as soon as a state of emergency was declared, 47 minutes after the ship hit the iceberg.
Addressing the fact that more third class passengers died than those in second class, Mr Maltin said it was because they 'did not want to' get in life boats.
He said that, in 1912, boys were classed as adults from the age of 13, meaning teenagers were only allowed into life boats after women and children had taken their places.
Because poorer families were going to America in search of a new life, they did not want to lose teenage or male members of their family.
'So you could imagine these women and men with families going to America,' Mr Maltin said.
'What you don't want to do is leave behind your 13-year-old son, your 14-year old son, your 15-year-old daughter.
'So what they did is they decided they would be better off sticking together.
'If they were going to leave the breadwinner behind dead in the icy waters of the Atlantic, what hope would there be for the mother on her own?'
Titanic didn't have enough lifeboats
Much has been made of the fact that the Titanic only had 20 lifeboats, which was enough to carry just over 1,000 of the 2,208 passengers.
However, Mr Maltin said that, because half the lifeboats would have been put out of action by the listing of the ship, the Titanic would have in fact needed to carry twice as many everyone needed if they were to save all souls onboard.
'The fact is, if you want to have enough life boats on a ship for everyone, you need to have twice as many as everyone needs,' he said.
Much has been made of the fact that the Titanic only had 20 lifeboats, which was enough to carry just over 1,000 of the 2,208 passengers. Pictured: Some of the Titanic survivors in a lifeboat
'Every ship almost settles on an uneven keel, it lists to the port or starboard. When it's listing, half the lifeboats are put out of action.
'So if the Titanic needed 30 lifeboats, then she actually needed to carry 60 to allow for that eventuality,' he said.
Because this was impractical, the Board of Trade instead opted to have 'ships properly built and properly subdivided', Mr Maltin said.
'What the authorities said was that any properly subdivided ship could actually carry a limited number of lifeboats in order for the lifeboats to act as a ferry from a stricken liner to get people to nearby vessels,' he added.
It has also been argued that the Titanic's rudder was too small to effectively manoeuvre the enormous ship.
However, Mr Maltin said it was the same size as the one which was on the Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic.
The Olympic remained in service until 1935 and its captain said it had the best handling of any ship he had ever commanded, Mr Maltin said.
The horrific 1912 Titanic tragedy
Constructed by Belfast-based shipbuilders Harland and Wolff between 1909 and 1912, the RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat of her time.
Owned and operated by the White Star Line, the passenger vessel set sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on April 10, 1912.
The liner made two short stops en route to her planned Atlantic crossing — one at the French port of Cherbourg, the other at Cork Harbour, Ireland, where smaller vessels ferried passengers on and off board the Titanic.
Nearly five days into her voyage, the Titanic struck an iceberg at around 23:40 local time, generating six narrow openings in the vessel's starboard hull, believed to have occurred as a result of the rivets in the hull snapping.
At just before midnight on April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg while travelling on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. Within three hours, the 'unsinkable' ship had slipped beneath the waves of the freezing Atlantic Ocean, killing more than 1,500 people
The Titanic took on water some fifteen times faster than could be pumped out, with the hull damage proving too extensive for the vessel's watertight bulkheads to keep the flooding from spreading across the liner's compartmentalised lower decks.
After around two-and-a-half hours, the vessel broke into two sections and sank, each settling to the seafloor around a third of a mile apart.
Around 1,500 people were believed lost in the tragedy, including around 815 of the liner's passengers.
The ship's main feature was the Grand Staircase. It was built from English solid oak, and enhanced with wrought iron. The decorated glass domes above were designed to let in as much natural light as possible
At its launch, the luxurious Titanic was the largest ship in the world, and was carrying some of the wealthiest people in the world, as well as hundreds of people from Britain, Ireland, and elsewhere who were seeking a new life in the United States.
Eight Chinese men were on board and six survived, landing in New York three days later aboard the Carpathia, the first ship to arrive at the scene of the disaster.
Under the United States' Chinese Exclusion Act, the men were transferred 24 hours later to a British steamship and sent to Cuba
Nearly five days into her voyage, the Titanic struck an iceberg at around 23:40 local time, generating six narrow openings in the vessel's starboard hull, believed to have occurred as a result of the rivets in the hull snapping. Pictured, the iceberg believed to have sunk the Titanic
Pumpkin Beer: Debunking the Myths - Recipes
Brew Your Own Magazine (BYO) - Subscribe and support the blog!
Adding Fruit to Sour Beer - September 2010
Kvass Revival - December 2010 (with Nathan Zeender)
The Cult of American Saison - July/August 2011 (with Nathan Zeender)
Sour Beer Orientation - November 2011
American Wild Ales - Running Feral Fermentations at Home - September 2012
Fermented Foods - October 2012
Dark Lagers: The New Possibility - January/February 2013 (with Nathan Zeender)
Blending Sour Beers with the Solera Method - May/June 2014
Experimental Homebrewing: Approach Unconventional Beers with Confidence - July/August 2014
Collaborative Fermentations: Blending brewer's yeast strains - March/April 2015
Brewing with Lactobacillus: Overview and Evaluation - May/June 2015 (with Matt Humbard)
The Science of Hop Glycosides: Hop aroma buried under your nose - July/August 2015
Foraging for Ingredients: Finding and brewing with wild ingredients - September 2015
Hard Cider with a Twist - Weird ciders: More than fermented apples - October 2015
Nitrogen and Stout Faucets: Pouring foam you can eat with a spoon - November 2015
Hop Oil Analysis and Blending - December 2015
Overnight Acidification - January/February 2016
Understanding pH - March/April 2016
The Science of Syrups - July/August 2016
Hoppy Fruit Beers & Fruity Hopped Beers - July/August 2016
Not Another Pumpkin Ale: The new pumpkin beer styles - September 2016
All About Brett - October 2016
Sour Beers from Extract - October 2016
Dehusked Dark Malt - November 2016
Acid Tolerance of Brewer's Yeast - December 2016
Hoppy Sour Beers - December 2016
Brewing Day Priorities - January/February 2017
Spunding Valves - March/April 2017
Low Dissolved Oxygen Lagers - May/June 2017
Drink Your Vegetables - July/August 2017
Mineral Profile in the Glass - September 2017
Kveik - October 2017
Working with Barrels - November 2017
One Batch, Many Beers - December 2017
The Freedom of Homebrewing - January/February 2018
IBUs: Modern Beers with Old Formulas - March/April 2018
Brewing with Wine Yeast - May/June 2018
Hop Extracts - July/August 2018
Sour Sans Bacteria: Brewing with lactic acid-producing yeast - September 2018
Brewing Table Beer: The challenges of making a 3% ABV beer - October 2018
Fermentations Apart: Selecting different yeast for different jobs - November 2018
Recipe Design Ethos - December 2018
Producing Wort for Mixed Fermentation - May/June 2014
With more than 600 posts on this site it can be a bit overwhelming, here are a list of some of the more in depth, interesting, and well done posts I have made since starting this blog. If I'm missing some that you think would be worth adding, let me know.
10 Homebrewing Myths Debunked - There is a lot of misinformation about homebrewing ingredients and processes.
11 Tips for Better Hoppy Beer - Includes general process tips that will make your hoppy beers taste fresher and hoppier.
All About Brettanomyces - A survey I completed for Greg Doss for an NHC presentation he was working on. It gives my general thoughts on brewing with Brett. Pair that with Hop Oil Analysis.
American IPA and Hop Bill Analysis - A list of the hops used in some of my favorite IPAs, and a bit of analysis on how commonly the various hop varieties appear.
Anatomy of a Clone - The Lost Abbey's Cable Car - My most ambitious clone and the thought process that went into creating the recipe.
Book Reviews - Links to all the brewing book reviews I've written.
Brewing Lambic: Mythbusters Style - Lambic brewers follow a complex process, but do they have to?
Brewing Sour Beer at Home - My thoughts on brewing, fermenting, aging, and bottling sour beers.
Capture Your Own Microflora - Make a starter from the wild yeast and bacteria in your local air.
Designing a Beer Recipe in 10 Steps - The process I go through every time I create a recipe.
Fire-Pit Gruit - A day spent brewing a beer without hops over an open fire.
Harvesting Sour Beer Bottle Dregs - A list of commercial beers that have harvestable wild yeast and/or bacteria.
Homebrew Water Treatment – A Practical Guide - When I want to adjust my water for brewing, this is how I do it.
How To Homebrew : All-Grain Beer - A guide to the basic methods and equipment I use to brew beer.
Maintaining Microbe Cultures - How to keep cultures of Brett and lactic acid bacteria on hand and ready to pitch.
Mistakes Every New Homebrewer Makes - A list of suggestions on how to avoid common pitfalls for the first time brewer.
Treatise on Oaking Homebrew - The general theory and practice behind my use of oak in homebrew.
Testing the Alcohol Content of Ice Concentrated Beer - A day in AJ's lab running the test to figure out just how much alcohol EisAdam contained.
Session Ale Brewing Tips - A series of suggestions for brewing better low alcohol beers that maintain the flavor and body of the strong beers everyone loves.
Why Sour Beers? - An article I wrote for HomeBrewTalk about why I love brewing sour beers so darn much!
Basic Brewing Radio - September 7, 2006 - Single-Hop Small Batch Experiment
Basic Brewing Radio - December 28, 2006 - Belgian Sugar Experiment
Basic Brewing Radio - September 20, 2007 - Offbeat Yeast Part One
Basic Brewing Radio - September 27, 2007 - Offbeat Yeast Part Two
Basic Brewing Radio - May 15, 2008 - Alternate Hopping Strategies
Basic Brewing Radio - March 13, 2008 - Belgian Sugar Experiment II
Basic Brewing Radio - December 4, 2008 - Beer Blending Experiment
Basic Brewing Radio - October 8, 2009 - Solera Brewing and Barrel Aging
Final Gravity - May 27, 2010 - Mike the Mad Fermentationist..sake and beer in DC
Basic Brewing Radio - December 9, 2010 - Kvass: Beer with Bread
Basic Brewing Radio - December 16, 2010 - Barrel Aging Update
BeerSmith - January 27, 2011 - Historic Beer Brewing
Basic Brewing Radio - March 10, 2011 - Berliner Weisse
Basic Brewing Radio - September 1, 2011 - Brewing Saison
BeerSmith - September 15, 2011 - Session Beer with The Mad Fermentationist
Final Gravity - September 16, 2012 - Harvest Fest special part 1
Basic Brewing Radio - March 8, 2012 - Solera Tasting Pt. 1
Basic Brewing Radio - April 5, 2012 - Solera Tasting Pt. 2
Basic Brewing Radio - October 18, 2012 - Sour GABF
BeerSmith - January 28, 2013 - Pro Beer Brewing Startup with Modern Times
Basic Brewing Radio - January 31, 2013 - Dark Lagers
BeerSmith - October 28, 2013 - Modern Times Brewery Follow Up
Basic Brewing Radio - July 3, 2014 - Michael Tonsmeire at Club Night
BeerSmith - July 22, 2014 - Sour Beer Brewing with Michael Tonsmeire
The Sour Hour - August 28, 2014 - First Episode
Basic Brewing Radio - November 12, 2014 - Mad Berliner Weisse
Basic Brewing Radio - November 20, 2014 - Mad Weird Fermentations
BeerSmith - January 7, 2015 - Beer Brewing Secrets
Brewing Business - March 9, 2015 - Michael Tonsmeire - The Mad Fermentationist
Fermentation Nation - April 13, 2015 - Intro to Sours & The Mad Fermentationist
Chop & Brew - May 28, 2015 - Influence of Mashing on Sour Beer Production
Basic Brewing Radio - August 6, 2015 - Modern Times Brewing
Craft Commander - December 3, 2015 - Michael Tonsmeire "The Mad Fermentationist"
Basic Brewing Radio - January 7, 2016 - Tonsmeire Recipe Tips
BeerSmith - April 15, 2016 - Embrace Homebrewing
Sour Rangers - June, 2016 - Michael Tonsmeire on Sour Beer
Trellis to Table - June 16, 2016 - Mike Tonsmeire, the Mad Fermentationist
Basic Brewing Radio - July 14, 2016 - Collaborative Flemish Red
Basic Brewing Radio - August 11, 2016 - Tonsmeire Funky Honey Beer Experiment
Basic Brewing Radio - July 28, 2016 - Tonsmeire Taps
Basic Brewing Radio - September 22, 2016 - BlueJacket/The Arsenal
The Food Flow - November 1, 2016 - The Art of Homebrewing Beer
The Brew Files - February 8, 2017 - Michael Tonsmeire Fails Gracefully At Cloning Oerbier
The Sour Hour - April 23/30, 2017 - Part 1 and Part 2
Good Beer Hunting - October 17, 2017 - Michael Tonsmeire and Scott Janish of Sapwood Cellars
The Brew Files - December 12, 2017 - Double the Juice with Mike
BeerSmith - February 26, 2018 - Brewing New England IPA
Uncapped - January 16, 2019 - Sapwood Cellars
Good Beer Hunting - January 28, 2019 - So, you opened a brewery. Now what?
Basic Brewing Radio - March 14, 2019 - Scaling Up with Sapwood Cellars
Basic Brewing Ratio - August 8, 2019 - Mike Tonsmeire Meetup
See What You Can Brew - August 10, 2019 - The Mad Fermentationist
Modern Times: The Podcast - Episode 5: The Mad Fermentationist
Pumpkin Ale - Home Brew Recipe and Commercial Microbrew Recipe
The date, September 16th, 2002 the place, Hops in Winter Park . Due to the awesome generosity of Matt Glass at the Winter Park, Florida Hops, I was able to enrich my meager homebrewing skills by helping brew my first 3.5-barrel (99 gallon) batch of beer. In keeping with my 11-year tradition of home brewing Pumpkin Ales, Matt kindly asked me to collaborate with him on creating our own micro-brewed Pumpkin Ale.
Kudos To The Originator
Up front, I feel it necessary to acknowledge the following mentors who influenced the recipe brewed at Hops. For starters, the Pumpkin Ale homebrew I made 10 years ago was based on a published recipe created by Luke Scott at Hearts Homebrew. About 11 years ago, Luke found an all grain microbrew recipe for Pumpkin Ale in a magazine. During Jury duty, he converted it to a partial mash homebrew recipe, published it in Hearts catalog, and the rest is history. Luke's recipe started my yearly quest for brewing the Ultimate Pumpkin Ale. This quest is my motivational key, driving me to create an ever-evolving recipe that, thus far, seems to improve each year I make it.
Over the years, I have also tried many micro-brewed examples of Pumpkin Ales. The most notable comes from Salem and Boston Beerworks, both located in Massachusetts .
Kudos to the Masters
With absolutely no experience using professional equipment, such as that in Hops, I set forth seeking advice from whom I consider the Grand Master Brewer of Pumpkin Ales. Scott Houghton was the local Brewmeister for Salem Beerworks, located in Salem , Massachusetts . What better location to capitalize on a Pumpkin Ale than the home of Witches, Jack-O-Lantern's, and Pumpkin Farms? Scott and his assistant Jeremy Cross have been brewing this wonderful Pumpkin Ale in Salem for 7 years based on 11-years experience to draw from by the parent brewery, Boston Beerworks. Each year I am fortunate enough to be in the New England area during Autumn, the Boston/Salem Beerworks Pumpkin Ale never disappoints and always makes the trip worthwhile.
Prior to even getting into brewing the beer, or learning about Hops equipment, I sort after useful information. During my multiple phone conversations with Scott and Jeremy, they changed my thinking about a number of procedures I once implemented in my homebrew Pumpkin Ale recipe. For starters, they informed me that it is not important to attempt a conversion of the starches in the pumpkin, as there isn't enough sugar derived to justify the effort. In fact, if you combine the pumpkin with the grains during steep and sparge, you are almost guaranteed to clog your equipment therefore mashing should not even be implemented. I pretty much experienced the fun with clogging my masher during 8 of the 10 years I made this ale, as I once attempated to convert the pumpkin starch during a 90 minute steep with my grains. No matter what equipment I used to sparge, it always ended up getting clogged. Little did I realize that conversion and fermentable sugars was not the point of using the pumpkin in the recipe. Secondly, the myth about having to use only "Jackal" pumpkins is just that, a myth. In fact, Scott and Jeremy told us to use ordinary canned pumpkin provided there are no preservatives. It is recommended however, to caramelize the pumpkin. This can be don e by spreading the canned pumpkin on cookie sheets as thin as possible, and backing in the oven at 350 for 1-hour until it is a dark golden color.
Since the purpose of adding pumpkin to the beer is to derive color and flavor, what better place to extract both qualities than in the boil. At first, I questioned this idea and asked if a 1.5 hour boil of pumpkin will impart a vegetable character to the beer, but I should know better then to have questioned the Masters. Based on Scott's recommendation, we introduced the 38-lbs of caramelized canned pumpkins to the wort at the very beginning of the boil. From the minute the pumpkin hit the boil, Hops Restaurant smelled like Autumn and Grandma's kitchen.
Scott also helped us better understand spicing during brewing. Initially, I was of the impression that the spices should go in last in order to infuse the maximum amount of aroma without boiling it away. Little did I realize that the procedure for adding certain spices is very similar to that followed when adding hops. Scott told us that it is indeed possible to obtain some desirable bitterness from cinnamon thus making it worthwhile to add at the beginning of the boil. He informed us that it is also possible to extract desirable flavors and aromas from the cinnamon and nutmeg by following the same timelines as that followed when adding hops. Scott's lasting comments were when he said, "just be careful and have fun with it." Although I can take that many ways, it made me think of, "relax, don 't worry, have a homebrew."
With our newfound spice information, Matt Glass and I decided to introduce a 90-minute spice addition (for bittering), a 20-minute spice addition (for flavor), and a two-minute spice addition (for aroma). Each step of the way, the spices ware carefully combined to an exacting amount along with three varieties of hops for added complexity.
I realize that no one will continue reading this article unless I show the recipe, so here it is. Keep in mind it is for 99-gallons. You all-grainer's will have an easier time converting this than the partial-mashers.
• 150-lbs 6 row malt
• 2.25-lbs dark chocolate (450 Lovibond)
• 38-lbs canned pumpkin (caramelized in the oven at 350 for over 1 hour)
• 2-oz Chinook at 90-minutes left (beginning of boil)
• 3-oz Willamette and 3-oz Cascade at 20-minutes left
• 6-oz Cascade at 2-minute left
• 1-1/2-oz Cinnamon and ½-oz Nutmeg at 90-minutes
• 3-oz Cinnamon and 1-oz Nutmeg at 20-minute
• 3-oz Cinnamon, 1.5-oz Nutmeg and 1.5-oz crushed Coriander at 2-minute
Now to the Brewing
Well, thanks to Matt Glass and Hops generosity, you can see only the finest ingredients were at our disposal and placed into this brew. Matt and I combined our ideas and created what we hope to be, the best damn Pumpkin Ale this far south of the Mason Dixon . BASICALLY (inside joke for Matt), I informed Matt about how I create the homebrew batches, suggested what we should shoot for in this batch, and Matt processed the information, provided the necessary feedback and scaled the recipe for the 99-gallon batch size. We worked together as a perfect team (right Matt?).
The excitement started with at 9:00am with a 45-minute mash at 165 ° F. We then re-circulated the wort for one hour to set the grain bed and to extract the desired color. The first wort measured at 23.0 degrees Plato (prior to boil).
Upon completing the re-circulation, we began the 90-minute boil. At the very start of the boil, we added the 38-lbs of caramelized pumpkin, the first hop addition and the first spice addition. The boil was rigorous with a powerful pumpkin pie aroma that filled the brew room, and the restaurant.
With time to kill, I proceeded to the restaurant where I devoured an awesome burger that was the size of half a Texas Cow. Not only has the Hops beer gotten better in the past few years, thanks to Matt, so has their food.
When lunch was over, we got right back in the thick of it. During our intense labor, a farther son team came to the brewery for information on the 'chemistry of brewing.' The 10th-grader was working on a chemistry paper for school, and due to the goodness/kindness/enlightenment of his father, he decided to write the paper on beer. It was a treat to discuss the 'chemistry of brewing,' as they diligently took notes. I wouldn't be surprised if the dad showed up at one of our CFHB meetings in the near future. Besides plugging our club, I sent the dad racing off to Hearts to pick up some Cantillon Grand Cru (thanks Tom Moench ) and George Fix (God rest his soul) book, "The Science of Brewing," two basic essentials in learning about the 'chemistry of brewing.'
Time progressed and we added our flavoring hops and spice with 20-minutes left in the boil. At the 15-minute mark, we added refining agents and yeast nutrients. At the very last two minutes, we added our final dose of aroma hops and spices to the brew. By this time, the restaurant was filling with an intense pumpkin pie aroma and causing me to quiver with joy over what we have created. The final brix was 18.2 Plato leaving Matt fearful of the power we have unleashed with this potentially high alcohol beer.
We completed the brewing process at about 4:00pm , when I had to kindly excuse myself and leave Matt to whirpool the wort for 20 minutes. After whirpooling and extracting the coagulants, Matt cooled the wort prior to introducing it to the fermentation tank where a healthy colony of 1056 Yeast awaited its presence.
Now over one year later, both the bottled and kegged version of the beer improved over time. Flavors are complex and balanced, and the spice and pumpkin character is noticeable, and in harmony with the beer. I managed to stash a 5-gallon keg of it away and all those present are welcomed to indulge and enjoy.
This recipe once resembled the version found in Hearts catalog. Over time, I have tweaked it based on experience and personal taste. Also, this is not the same recipe as the one made at Hops. In the homebrew version, I recommend using small amounts of crystal malt with a healthy dose of Munich and Vienna malts for color, head retention and character. The "biscuit" flavor from the Vienna/Munich malts will provide the pie shell flavor similar to pumpkin pie. I also don 't recommend adding ginger. I have never cared for the character of ginger in beer and don 't think it extracts desirable flavors in any stage that it's added during the brewing process. In its place, I recommend coriander in the finish only, as it adds to the spice complexity in the aroma.
Homebrew Recipe - For a 5-gallon partial mash batch:
• 6-lbs to 8-lbs of canned pumpkin (without preservatives)
• 1 ½ -oz Chinook at 90-minutes (beginning of boil)
• 1-oz Willamette and ½ -oz Cascade at 20-minutes left
• ½ -oz Cascade at 2-minute left
• 1-tbsp Cinnamon and ½-tbsp Nutmeg at 90-minutes
• 1-tbsp Cinnamon and 1/1-tbsp Nutmeg at 20-minute
• 1-tbsp Cinnamon, 1-tbsp Nutmeg and 1tbsp crushed Coriander at 2-minute
• 1-tbsp Irish moss for clarifying
Caramelize the pumpkin on cookie sheets by baking at 350 degrees for about 1-hour. The pumpkin will turn a dark brown color on the top layer. While baking pumpkin, follow standard procedures for mashing and sparging grains. Take the sparge water (wort) to a boil while adding the caramelized pumpkin and first hop/spice addition. Note, this will be a 90-minute boil in order to produce melenoidins and provide a more dextrinis wort. At the last 20-minutes, add the second hop/spice addition. With 15-minutes remaining, add the Irish moss. At the last two minutes, add the remaining hops/spices and remove from heat. After 2-minutes of steeping, cool wort as quickly as possible, add to carboy diluting to a full 5-gallons, and pitch yeast when below 90 degrees. Let ferment for about 4 days. There will be a tremendous trube on the bottom of the carboy. This is common due to the pumpkin and grains. It will be challenging to rack as it may clog the rack tube several times. Rack the beer and let sit about 1-week. Another large trube may develop as there is a lot of things floating around in this beer. Rack again and let sit in carboy for about another 2-weeks. This beer is not a hurry up and ferment. It may take a few rackings to get it to clear out and eventually stop fermenting. When you're confident fermentation is complete, rack, prime and bottle/keg. Most importantly, enjoy.
Thanks to Matt Glass , Hops, Scott Houghton, Jeremy Cross, Luke Scott, Tom Moench , George Fix and Hearts Homebrew Supplies for the inspiration.
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Thanksgiving Art, Facts, and Some Myths Debunked
It’s Thanksgiving today in the United States, so we thought it would be a great time to debunk what you thought you knew about this national holiday that pretends to be about giving thanks. #cueominousmusic
Doris Lee, “Thanksgiving” (c.1935) (via Art Institute of Chicago)
According to the Pew Research Center, turkeys are getting bigger, and most are from the states of Minnesota and North Carolina. The US is also exporting more turkeys than ever, and Mexico is by far the biggest market for US turkey (412.7 million pounds in 2012), followed by Canada (31.2 million pounds) and Hong Kong (26.6 million pounds).
Every wonder if there’s a connection between turkey, the bird, and Turkey, the country? The New York Times published an op-ed that explains:
It’s not a coincidence. It’s not that the two words just sound alike. Turkeys are named after Turkey. But there is a connection. You just have to go to Madagascar to find it. Let me explain.
Once upon a time, English mealtimes were miserable things. There were no potatoes, no cigars and definitely no turkey. Then people began to import a strange, exotic bird. Its scientific name was Numida meleagris its normal name now is the helmeted guinea fowl, because it’s got this weird bony protuberance on its forehead that looks a bit like a helmet. It came all the way from Madagascar, off the southeast coast of Africa, but the English didn’t know that. All the English knew was that it was delicious, and that it was imported to Europe by merchants from Turkey. They were the Turkey merchants, and so, soon enough, the bird just got called the turkey.
Jennie A. Brownscombe, “Thanksgiving in Plymouth” (1914), Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth (via lakenhal.nl)
According to the Library of Congress, the “first American Thanksgiving” was celebrated in May 1541 by Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, who led 1,500 men in a thanksgiving celebration at the Palo Duro Canyon:
Coronado’s expedition traveled north from Mexico City in 1540 in search of gold. The group camped alongside the canyon, in the modern-day Texas Panhandle, for two weeks in the spring of 1541. The Texas Society Daughters of the American Colonists commemorated the event as the “first Thanksgiving” in 1959.
In 1564, French Huguenot colonists celebrated thanksgiving in Jacksonville, Florida, followed by celebrations in Maine (1607), Virginia (1610). Finally, the most famous Thanksgiving celebration, in the Plymouth Colony, took place in October 1621:
The celebration included athletic contests, a military review led by Miles Standish, and a feast on foods such as wild turkeys, duck, geese, venison, lobsters, clams, bass, corn, green vegetables, and dried fruits. In 1841, Dr. Alexander Young contended that this harvest celebration was the “first Thanksgiving,” and the origin of an American tradition. This interpretation gained such widespread acceptance that other contenders for the distinction faded into obscurity.
Native Americans ate pumpkin dried, stewed, baked, and roasted. In the Great Lakes area, tribal cooks roasted pumpkins stuffed with wild rice, rendered fat, venison, and buffalo. In New England, colonists took a cue from the locals and figured out ways to sneak the hardy squash into every meal of the day: settlers consumed pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin flower blossom sandwiches, pumpkin cornbread, pumpkin soups, and, inevitably, pumpkin beer. A pumpkin pie recipe appears in the 1796 edition of “American Cookery,” though in the early days settlers were more likely to bake a whole pumpkin, hollowed and filled with sweetened milk and spices.
Did you know that the original written source for the Plymouth Thanksgiving was actually stolen from the US in the 18th century and ended up in Canada and then Britain:
After the siege of Boston, when the British occupied downtown, troops ransacked the Old South Church (and turned it into a riding school, of all things) and found Bradford’s Plymouth Plantation lodged in the steeple. One (or several –who knows?) soldier took it as a spoil of war, and it made its way to Canada and later to Great Britain where it somehow (again — who knows?) found its way into the Library of Fulham Palace, the official residence of the Bishop of London. There it was used and referenced by several British historians of early America, bringing it to the attention of American scholars — who had apparently forgot all about it?