The Road To Ruin: the original Hodgeheg seasonal ale

Well it’s that time of year again, pumpkin ale time. If you don’t remember from last year, we made pumpkin ale for thanksgiving at Mole End. It was such a success that we’re doing it again.

We opened the naming of the beer up to a poll right here on the blog with Valerie’s idea of “Cinderella’s Ruin” winning. It’s such a good name that I almost feel guilty that we’ve stolen a possible beer name from her and Dave.

So the road to ruin all started yesterday with the almost impossible task of finding 8 kg of pumpkin flesh about a month earlier than it is generally in the shops. All the usual beer ingredients were easy enough to get our hands on, in fact easier than usual as I now cycle home from work past the brewing shop, although cycling with that extra 6 kg of grain in my backpack was hard going. The pumpkin however was a bit of a challenge, so after visiting various supermarkets it was time to take on the advice of Luke and Valerie and look for tinned pumpkin.

Last year worked out perfectly as Luke (the very Mole of Mole End) had a load of frozen pumpkin in his chest freezer. Unfortunately we don’t have a chest freezer to store pumpkin in, but Valerie and Luke recommended trying tinned pumpkin. Our American friends will be very familiar with tinned pumpkin, but I must confess to having never seen such a thing. So off to the organic, slightly specialised green grocers in Edinburgh.

Tinned pumpkin is pureed pumpkin flesh, in a tin. That simple, so theoretically it should be just the same. The only thing I am concerned about is that it’s pureed, so I’m a little worried about how it will affect my ability to run water through my mash to extract all the lovely stuff from the grains. I didn’t have that worry last year as when I originally made this beer I used a different type of brewing where all the grain and pumpkin was in a fine mesh bag. I may resort to at least putting the pumpkin into a bag this year.

Unfortunately, the style of beer we are making takes around two months to be ready to drink (at its best anyhow) so to have it ready for thanksgiving on Nov 28th means getting a head start so until we have a huge chest freezer where we can store pumpkin flesh for the coming year, tinned pumpkin it is..

There may be some of you reading this and thinking, “Pumpkin beer? I’m sure I’ve never seen that in my local.” And you’d be right. Pumpkin ale is very much an American thing, especially around thanksgiving when all things pumpkin go bump in the night.

There are records of pumpkin beer in the states as early as 1801 although maybe not as we would recognise it today. The beer I’m making uses pumpkin as an additional flavouring, whereas back in the early years of the US, pumpkins were used as a source of fermentable sugar from which to make beer as the availability of barley wasn’t great. Nowadays chances are when you pick up a commercial pumpkin beer there’s no guarantee that there will even be pumpkin in your pumpkin beer. A large amount of commercial brewers add pumpkin pie spices to their beer to give it the association of pumpkin, but don’t actually include any pumpkin in the production of the beer.

I’m adding both, the spices are from Valerie’s pumpkin pie recipe, but it’s very subtle.

If you fancy trying to make my version of pumpkin beer, here’s my recipe (very simplified).

Cinderella’s Ruin -spiced pumpkin ale

  • 5 kg pale malt
  • 0.7 kg crystal malt 20L
  • 0.03 kg chocolate malt
  • 8 kg pumpkin flesh

Mash the grains and pumpkin at 68 degrees C for 60 mins

Boil the resulting wort for 60 mins with the following hop additions

  • Styrian Goldings 5.19% 30 g at beginning of the boil
  • Styrian Goldings 5.19% 30 g for 10 mins
  • Styrian Goldings 5.19% 30 g for 5 mins

I do a 2 stage fermentation;

2 weeks primary

2 weeks secondary (add your spices)

Then 30 days to condition.

Then enjoy, preferably with friends.

pumpkin ale brew day

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