Whew! Already deep into the fall and the season has blown by like a leaf. And like a leaf, it will soon be dried up and awaiting it's slow decay. Man, this blog entry got spooky real quick.
The second batch of Saison turned out to be lighter in color and awfully fruity, with an apple crisp note that was very overwhelming at first. Since the fall weather doesn't really require the kind of thirst quenching this beer is good for, I was able to resist too much tasting and let it age for a few more weeks. The resulting beer had a less pronounced apple character and, while sweeter, had a dry finish that still hit pretty close to the marks I had been aiming for. I'm going to shelve this beer for now, but I want to double down and see if I can get it even closer on the next batch. I think a slightly lower temperature in the mash might get me about where I need to be, but there's only one way to be sure. I'm saving bottles from each batch for a grand analysis later on in the year.
In the meantime, I have been trying to plan ahead and add a seasonal brew attempt to my homebrew cycle. Pumpkin beers are all the rage, so it seemed fitting to take a stab at making one to my and Wife's tastes. It is important to note that flavors most identified with pumpkin beers is often not the pumpkin. The pumpkin itself adds a "squashy, earthy" texture. It can also take a backseat to, say, the mouth feel of a heavy porter or stout as well. Personally, I enjoy the pumpkin with a bit of what makes a pumpkin pie so good: Clove, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and other common pie spices. You can add just pumpkin or just spices, but they compliment each other so well it would be a real shame to miss out on either. As a result, I was determined to use fresh pumpkin with a compliment of spices in an ale that would feature this combo.
The ale itself was simple and unobtrusive. The base was a standard U.S. malt with Munich Malt and Crystal 40L malt for a little color and some background flavor. If you're not into grain, that will make a nice lighter ale without any heavy toffee, caramel, sweet, or deep coffee notes that darker roasted malts might add. Into this mix I added 6.5 lbs of pie pumpkins and a reserved selection of clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and mace. There were a multitude of other spices I could have added, but the last thing I wanted was a few billion spices trying to vie for the attention of my taste buds. Simple is hard to do.
Really, the brew was the easiest part. The hard part was cutting, gutting, and roasting the pumpkin. Oh, that's right, I roasted the pumpkin. I highly recommend having a capable assistant to take care of the pumpkin. It takes around an hour and the gutting takes as long as it wants to. The fermentation was fantastic, as it made the whole closet smell like a pumpkin pie.
Full disclosure: it's been long enough between blog posts that I've managed to ferment, bottle and pour this one. It's spicy and thick at first, then is deliciously light by the time it heads down your throat. It's a big hit with the crowd. While I'd like to see if what this would be like as a porter, I think having as an ale keeps kit from being weighed down (that's a fancy way of saying you'll want to drink more of it). Happy Fall!