How NOT to make an Imperial Pumpkin Stout

Greetings and salutations!

Allow me to express my deepest sympathies for all the high ABV pumpkin ale fans out there. We had our first total failure to produce a beer. However, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and I want to share our mishap to the world so this travesty doesn’t happen again to any other home brewer out there that might be looking at making a 10%+ imperial stout flavored with real pumpkins.

So, the initial problem was reading online that we needed about 6 cans of pumpkin puree for every 5 gallons that we were expecting to boil. Then not understanding that out equipment simply wasn’t designed to do a 20 gallon partial mash batch with 24+ cans of puree. We had to remove grains from the all grain recipe to fit all the pumpkin into the mash, and the result was that the water we put in quickly turned into a viscous paste that wouldn’t flow. The lack of room in the mash tun for more fluid space and the removal of the grains that would have provided a filter allowed the high amount of pumpkin puree to kill our aspirations for an amazing brew.

The solutions we have thought up so far include either reducing the size of the batch to allow for an all grain recipe, or buy larger equipment for mashing so that we can fit everything in and not rely too heavily on extracts to meet our target OG. Let’s just say we aren’t going to make another attempt on a pumpkin beer till probably next year, need to lick our wounds and get a few more reliable beers under our belt before taking on Dan’s favorite gourd yet again.

So, what are we planning on doing next? Well, since we haven’t used up all the extract we had for the pumpkin imperial stout recipe … I think aiming for the same exact recipe, sans pumpkin, isn’t a bad plan of attack. Adjust the spices a little so that it becomes a winter warmer styled high ABV stout. We should expect this to finish fermenting around early 2015. We’ll also be looking at a lighter ale that will hopefully be ready before the holidays, but more news on that in December.

If you don’t hear from us till after national turkey day, have a good one and enjoy the time with your families!

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