2013 Punkin’ Porter

The 2013 Punkin’ Porter.

This photo makes it appear that there is more carbonation than there really was, but at least it isn’t flat. I’m very happy that it has any carbonation after the disaster of our first attempt to keg carbonate and bottle with a counter-pressuer bottle filler.

Tastes good and roasty with a nice amount of spice. If anything I think it’s a little heavy on the pumpkin; it has a real thick mouthfeel.

2013 Punkin’ Porter [Brew Day]

Starting gravity 1.078 (expected)
oops! (actual)
Final gravity 1.014 (expected)
1.021 (actual)
ABV 8% (expected)

This is the fourth year of brewing the Punkin’ Porter, which is the only one of our brews that has had so many repeat appearances. Before kicking off our brew day we did a side-by-side tasting of the 2012 and 2011 batches. Unfortunately, the 2012 had a slight sour note to it. I assume this comes from experimenting with roasted pumpkin seeds, but really could stem from any part of the process of using real pumpkin. The 2011 batch was–even after two years–pretty amazing!

Brewing Notes

  • We followed the Extreme Brewing recipe but only used canned pumpkin this year.
  • We used two 29oz cans of Libby’s pumpkin purée and one 29oz can of Libby’s Pumpkin Pie mix (which is purée with pumpkin pie seasoning)
  • In past years we have added the canned pumpkin directly to the boil, but we interpreted the directions differently this time and instead first boiled the pumpkin for ~20 minutes in 1/2 gallon of water. We then added more water and the crushed grains for our 45 minute steep at 155 degrees. I think the pumpkin pre-boil is only for whole pumpkin, but we thought it might help release more pumpkin flavor. A lack of pumpkin flavor has been our main complaint over the years.
  • Before starting the brew timer, we strained the wort through cheesecloth multiple times to try and remove all of the sediment. We usually lose a gallon or more of our beer because of the sediment that settles during fermentation. We didn’t have very much cheesecloth but it seemed to work. More cheesecloth in the future!
  • The rest of the process pretty much followed the recipe, except we only used 0.5 tsp of allspice because our old notes show that we prefer it to the full 1 tsp listed in the recipe. We used the full 1 tsp of cinnamon and nutmeg listed in the recipe. All spices were dried (not fresh).


  • Two 29 oz cans of Libby’s pumpkin purée and one 29 oz can of Libby’s Pumpkin Pie mix
  • 1 lb crushed black patent malt
  • 1.5 lbs crushed pale 6-row malt
  • 3.3 lbs Light LME
  • 3 lbs Amber DME
  • 1 oz Hallertau hop pellets (bittering @ 60 minutes)
  • 1 oz Cascade hop pellets (@ 20 minutes)
  • 0.5 oz Hallertau hop pellets (@ 10 minutes)
  • Spices: 0.5 tsp allspice, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg — all dried/ground (not fresh) (@ 5 minutes)
  • Wyeast 1056 American Ale Yeast

We’re going to try bottling this batch with a Counter-Pressure Bottle Filler. This will be our first attempt at using a Corny Keg to force carbonate beer with CO2.

Update October 7: After a week the keg hasn’t carbonated as expected. We initially had the PSI too low (only ~14 PSI) for basement temperature of around 63 degrees (we guessed 50). I’m upping to 30 PSI to try and get it carbonated and can then level it out.

Brewed September 14, 2013
Bottled October 15, 2013
Tasted October 17, 2013

Backyard Pale – 2012 Harvest (Backyard Belgian)

Wow! The 2012 Harvest tastes completely different from the 2011 Harvest. It tastes like a yeasty Belgian instead of a Pale Ale. And holy hell is it bubbly!

I didn’t know which yeast we used for the 2011 Harvest, so I guessed on the general American Ale yeast (Wyeast 1056). Even though the flavor is very yeasty I would be surprised if this was the cause.

The old notes said “light DME” so instead of amber DME I got Pilsen Light DME. Maybe that is the culprit?

Not a bad brew, but not at all what we were expecting.

Apple Purée and Cinnamon Stick

Just like with the Apricot Purée, I made an apple purée for the Apple Brown Betty Fall Ale.

I cut apple chunks and discarded the cores before puréeing and then heated the purée to ~160-170 degrees to get rid of any baddies. Then after cooling a bit, added it to the secondary fermentation bucket after a few days of primary fermenting. I put the purée in a mesh grain sack to keep it from turning into a huge mess. I also added a single cinnamon stick.

The primary was in a carboy, so I did transfer to a bucket for secondary fermentation. Then a week later (August 1) I pulled the sack of apple puree out (but left the cinnamon stick).

Apple Brown Betty Fall Ale (Small Batch) [Brew Day]


Starting gravity 1.053 (expected)
~1.060 (actual)
Final gravity N/A (expected)
1.014 (actual)
ABV ~6%

Half-Batch Brewing

I’m just brewing a small batch recipe (half) because this recipe might not be any good. Even if it is good, I don’t know that I want a full 5 gallons of this, so I just split the recipe in half and left all of the timings the same.

A 2.5 gallon batch seemed like an easy task for the kitchen stove. Unfortunately, bringing 2.5 gallons to a boile took a lot longer on the stove than with the turkey fryer!


This recipe is from The Homebrewer’s Recipe Guide. The main recipe (not including the puree) is pretty simple:

  • 0.25lbs chocolate malt
  • 3.3lbs Light (Pale) liquid malt extract
  • 0.5lbs dry malt extract (Amber)
  • 0.75oz Fuggles pellet hops at 60 minutes
  • Wyeast 1098 British Ale

Brewing Notes

  • During the boil I peeled, cored, and diced 2lbs of apples (1 lb each of Red Delicious and Granny Smith) which ended up just over 1.5 lbs

  • After the 60 minute boil, I steeped the following ingredients for 30 minutes. I put the diced apples in a muslin bag to get them back out easily, especially since I also had the wort chiller in the pot.
    • 0.25oz Hallertau pellet hops at 0 minutes
    • 2 lbs of diced apples
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • The gravity was extremely high at 1.072 (expected 1.053), but I added more water to get up to 2.5 gallons which brought the gravity down to about ~1.060.


Extra Apple and Cinnamon Addition

After five days I added another 2 lbs of apple purée and a cinnamon stick to the fermenter during transfer. It will sit on that for another 7-10 days before transferring again (really!?) and then rest 3 days before bottling.

Brewed July 20, 2103
Purée and transfer July 25, 2013
Bottled August 5, 2013
Tasted August 19, 2013

Backyard Pale (Belgian) – 2012 Harvest [Brew Day]

Starting gravity oops! 1.062? (actual)
Final gravity 1.014 (actual)
ABV ~6%

Brewing Notes

  1. This is a late brew using last year’s (2012) hop harvest.
  2. We followed the same recipe as the 2011 Harvest Backyard Pale, but with a different hop breakdown. I didn’t write down which yeast we used, so I got 1 package of American Ale yeast for this batch.

Final Hop Tally

  1. All of the Centennial (~3/4 oz) and 0.5 oz Cascade @ 60 minutes (bittering)
  2. 1+ oz Cascade (~1.25 oz?) @ 12 minutes (flavoring)
  3. 0.5 oz Cascade @ 1 minute (aroma)
Brewed July 15, 2013
Transferred N/A
Bottled August 5, 2013
Tasted August 19, 2013

Apricot Honey Wheat Ale

The first bottle tasted was the last bottle filled and has nearly an inch of sediment settled in the bottom of the bottle:


  • Very tart flavor up front. Wonder if either the apricots sat in the fermenter for too long, or maybe due to the amount of puree trapped in this bottle (wishful thinking).
  • To me, the flavor is pretty obviously a mix of apricot fruit and extract.
  • Slightly bitter taste at the end. This is consistent with the early wort tastings and part of the reason why we added all 4oz of extract.

Update July 10, 2013: The second bottle for opened is from the middle of the bottling process and has much less sediment. It is less tart and tastes much better overall! Good apricot aroma and not overpowering with the apricot.

Update August 17, 2013: Different bottles have been pretty hit-or-miss. I think that during bottling we didn’t let it settle enough after transferring to the bottling bucket–especially because we tried different amounts of apricot extract, re-stirring after each addition. We were probably too impatient.