Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Spiced Pumpkin Wheat Ale Experiment: American vs. German Yeast

I decided to brew up a spiced pumpkin ale for the holidays. As I was thinking about how much cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and clove to use it dawned on me that splitting the batch between a German yeast and an American one would showcase the different flavors each yeast could pair with the spices. Many German wheat yeasts produce banana and clove flavors, while American wheat yeasts are a bit more subdued in this department. I have never brewed a pumpkin ale before or used a yeast starter until making this beer, but I have to tell you, this batch fermented down in less than 3 days, and this was at a constant temperature of 65 degrees F! I pulled a sample of each to taste on day three and the beers already tasted wonderful and ready to bottle!

Recipe & Notes
Bavarian Pumpkin Ale (Extract)
6-D American Wheat or Rye Beer
Author: Orion Chandler
Date: 10/7/2011
Size: 1.25 gal
Efficiency: 70.0%
Attenuation: 79.6%
Original Gravity: 1.055 (1.040 - 1.055)
Terminal Gravity: 1.012 (1.008 - 1.013)
Color: 10.89 (3.0 - 6.0)
Alcohol: 5.5% (4.0% - 5.5%)
Bitterness: 20.6 (15.0 - 30.0)
1.675 lb Dry Wheat
.10 oz Northern Brewer (9.1%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min
2 lb Canned Pumpkin (Baked) - added during boil, boiled 30 min
.15 oz Mt. Hood (6.5%) - added during boil, boiled 15.0 min
1.0 ea White Labs WLP300 Hefeweizen Ale
1.0 ea White Labs WLP320 American Hefeweizen Ale
1 tsp Allspice - added during boil, boiled 0.0 min
1.0 tsp Nutmeg (ground) - added during boil, boiled 0.0 min
.25 ea Cinnamon Stick - added during boil, boiled 0.0 min
.25 tsp Cloves (whole) - added during boil, boiled 0.0 min

Bake pumpkin at 375 degrees for 60 minutes.
Start boil with 1.5 gal water, boiled down to .75 gal, then top up with .5 gal for 1.25 total gallons to ferment.
Split batch in half, .62 gallons per half.
Add American yeast to one batch at 65 degrees, and German hefeweisen yeast to other half at same temperature.
Ferment at 65 degrees for 21 days.
Check flavor and add more spices as needed to each batch.
If total yield is 1 gallon for both batches, then assuming it bottles into 11 bottles between both batches, add .062 ounces sugar per bottle for 2.5 volumes of co2 per bottle(I CAN USE BROWN SUGAR ON HALF THE BATCH!). This is an average ale carbonation level.
Bottle Condition for 3 weeks at 65 degrees.
Cold condition for 5 days in fridge.
10/7/11: Fermentation began after 3 hours at 66 degrees! OG: 1.055
Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.17

Initial Tasting 10/13/2011(3 days into fermentation)
So far I prefer the flavor of the American variety batch but both are good. The spice flavor is very light in both beers, but is shines through slightly more in the American wheat. I think I will add more spice to it now that initial fermentation has died down as I am not afraid of the rapid fermentation scrubbing delicate aromas from the brew. The initial flavor is that of a standard wheat beer, and finishes with a crisp spiciness more from the yeast than the spices. The pumpkin flavor if anything is in the background. This beer finishes crisp on the palette and is not overly sweet or malt forward. The German yeast batch is same as above, but with a soft level of clove that is quite mild. I think the low fermentation temperature kept the flavor from becoming dominating as German wheat yeasts can do. The balance between bitterness and maltiness is great. Initially I had intended this beer to be a little more malt forward, but I am pleased with the results so far. If it tastes too dry I can bottle prime it with dry malt extract to not only add flavor but also leave more residual unfermentable sugars in the ale. These beers are very tasty for being only 3 days old! I can't wait to see how these pan out over the next few months.

Second Tasting (12/18/2011)
I accidentally added 8 times as much priming sugar as I was supposed to. This is what a tablespoon of table sugar added to each 12oz bottle looks like when you pop off the cap:
And after a few minutes, the head took over the entire glass!

The final gravity ended at 1.016 and tasted way too sweet, almost like a Bock but without the malt backbone. For all of you out there wondering how much sugar to prime with I now have an answer. Add half a tsp of table sugar per 12oz bottle for an average volume of CO2 of 2.5 volumes. I further split the two batches into two versions of each original version and added twice the spices to the second group of each batch, these came out way too spicy and were quite nasty.

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