It was decided that this year’s beer, being a lighter beer with a lower alcohol content wasn’t really going to ruin Cinderella like the previous 6.8% thanksgiving beers, so a new name was needed.
A poll has been running on this blog for the last month and at close yesterday we had a winner.
This year’s beer is a basic American amber beer made with roasted pumpkin and spices. It’s a little heavier on the spices this year and has a deep red colour. It’s just what you need to warm you up on a dark, driech night.
If you fancy having a go at this beer yourself the recipe is further down in this post or if you are wondering why pumpkin beer is associated with Thanksgiving or who was Stingy jack?
The Legend of Stingy Jack
People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”
In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o’lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o’-lanterns.
Pumpkin beer and Thanksgiving
The first pumpkin beers were created when the first settlers from Europe arrived. They wanted beer, but had to find substitutes for the barley malts so readily available across the ocean. They could have imported British beer but after the long journey across the ocean the beer was usually less than fresh when it arrived. Pumpkin wasn’t the only ingredient used with fermentable sugars. Corn stalks, molasses, tree bark, and parsnips were some other alternatives used.
One early fermented pumpkin drink was to use pumpkin and gourd juice fermented like cider, which was sour and tangy. Pumpkin beer also became a major ingredient in “flip”, a colonial drink of rum, beer, and sugar. Contradicting sources make it unclear whether cinnamon and nutmeg were yet added. One of the first pumpkin beer recipes, from 1771, makes no mention of these spices, while others speculate the spices were used to cover up the sour taste.
In the 1800s, barley malt became more readily available in America as farmers realized it’s money-making potential. The use of pumpkin for beer waned.
A New Era
Thanks to the craft beer movement, its use became popular again in the late 1980s. Buffalo Bill’s Brewery, established in 1983, was the first to bring back pumpkin beer in 1985. Theirs is made with pumpkin (not all pumpkin beers are), and is a nod toward pumpkin pie.
Make your own Pumpkin Beer
Batch Size: 18 litres
Style: American Amber Ale (6B)
Color: 30 EBC
Bitterness: 25 IBUs
Boil Time: 60 min
Est OG: 1.046 (11.4° P)
Mash: 66C for 60 mins (roasted pumpkin goes in the mash)
Est FG: 1.010 SG (2.6° P)
2kg Pale Malt
300g Crystal Malt – 40L
200g Crystal Malt – 60L
1.5kg Munich Malt
50g Black (Patent) Malt
40g Goldings, East Kent [5.0%] – Boil 60 min
1pkgs Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
4kg of roasted pumpkin in the mash
Add 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice and 1 of cinnamon to the keg