2016 Pumpkin Belgian Blonde

For our annual pumpkin beer this year, we wanted to try something new.
Jer found this article about designing the perfect pumpkin beer, and the mention of a Belgian pumpkin ale sparked our interest. Maybe we’ll get more pumpkin flavor with a lighter beer (compared to our usual Punkin’ Porter recipe).

See all of our previous Pumpkin Beers here

Results

Overview

Starting gravity (actual): 1.078
Starting gravity (expected): 1.074
Final gravity (actual): 1.020
Final gravity (expected): 1.015
ABV ~8%

It’s not bad, but it’s not great. Much better than we expected when tasting the beer during bottling. It wasn’t fully carbonated when cracking open the first bottle after 12 days, but was on its way.

I think my favorite year so far has been the 2013 batch.

Update: After another week or so the beer did get carbonated and is actually pretty good. It’s got a lot of pumpkin flavor and a lot of spice. Maybe too much squash flavor. I wouldn’t repeat this recipe exactly, but it’s much better than the brew notes (below) were predicting.

Recipe

We started with the clone recipe for the Double Enghien Blonde Ale in the CloneBrews book. We made a few substitutions based on what was available, but nothing that should be a problem.

Malts and Sugars

4 oz crushed Belgian aromatic malt
(used Dingemans Aromatic malt 17-21L)
2 oz crushed Belgian biscuit malt
(used Swaen Honey Biscuit malt 30-35L)
7 lbs Extra-Light (Pilsen Light) DME
8 oz Wheat DME
8 oz Belgian clear candy sugar
(used Blonde candi syrup)

Hops

1.5 oz East Kent Golding pellet hops 60 minutes
0.25 oz East Kent Golding pellet hops 15 minutes
0.25 oz German Hallertau pellet hops
(used another 0.25 oz East Kent Golding)
15 minutes

Other

5x 15 oz cans Farmer’s Market organic pumpkin purée
0.5 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground clove
1 tsp fresh grated ginger

Yeast

2 packs Wyeast 1762 Belgian Abbey Ale II

Brewing Notes

Timeline

Brewed August 31, 2016
Spiced & Bottled October 12, 2016
Tasted October 24, 2016

  • We changed our pumpkin strategy this year. For all of our previous pumpkin beers, we steeped the pumpkin purée along with crushed grain and removed it for the full boil.

    This year we added the pumpkin late, at 15 minutes as suggested in the designing perfect pumpkin beer article. This makes sense because that’s when you add the flavoring hops. We used five 15 oz cans of pumpkin purée (75 oz), which is about 4½ pounds.
  • No spices during brewing. Usually we add spices right near the end of brewing. Instead, we’re going off of one of the tips on brewing pumpkin beer from Elysian founder Dick Cantwell and head brewer Steve Luke, the kings of pumpkin beers.

    Our plan is to instead add the spices just before bottling, after tasting the beer and deciding on what combination of the “faithful 5” (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and clove) will go well with this beer. We’ll find out if it’s ok to add the spices and bottle without letting it rest first.
  • This might be terrible. It took us forever to schedule a day to bottle this beer and when we finally did, we were not happy with the flavor. Sour? Off flavors? Dirty squash aftertaste? So we didn’t care to try multiple spice combinations and just added ~1 teaspoon of each of the “faithful 5” spices, except for allspice (½ tsp) which we’ve found to be overpowering in the past.

One thought on “2016 Pumpkin Belgian Blonde

  1. The second bottle I opened was more carbonated, though still pretty light. Flavor was subtle to medium spice, which felt balanced to the pumpkin flavor. Also on the sweet side. Could use more of the Belgian yesters we were hoping for.

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