Jun 082011

Old beer cansI opened up the chest freezer I use as a serving fridge, not really knowing what to expect. It had been almost a year since I had poured any homebrew, and I figured the inside of the freezer would be a mess, full of nasty, empty kegs and some kind of mold/slime combination. I wasn’t looking forward to the cleaning job that surely awaited me.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered a nice, clean interior stocked with three almost-full kegs of beer, and a bottle of champagne to boot! The freezer had been held at a steady 40°F the entire time, and the kegs were all pressurized. Only one question remained – was the beer still drinkable??

It looked like I had about 7 or 8 gallons of a pumpkin spice I had brewed (which had turned out a bit more “imperial” than I had intended) and around 4 gallons of the Kölsch I brewed last August. I poured a few pints, called the wife over, and proceeded to hope for the best…

…and it was good!! All the beer was excellent! The carbonation levels could use some adjustment, but the pumpkin spice ale had mellowed nicely, and the Kölsch didn’t have any off-flavors to speak of! This was great news, since I worry so much about sanitation and the longevity of my beers. I’d love to brew up some special Belgians or barleywines and cellar them for a few years, and this gives me a boost of confidence that my procedures are pretty sound and I might be able to pull that off.

Now, I’m left with a problem I don’t mind having – how to dispose of many gallons of tasty homebrew to make room for many more gallons of tasty homebrew?

Sounds like a party to me!

Sep 232008



The weather is getting cooler and it has been far too long since I have stirred a mash. I’ve been dying to make a pumpkin spice beer for quite some time now, and I think the time is right to give it a shot.

Sadly, I’ve read that you won’t find pumpkin anywhere near most pumpkin beers – they are often brewed with pumpkin pie spices instead of the real deal. Using real pumpkin involves roasting and mashing the stuff, then trying to sparge through the resulting mess – too much work for most people, it would seem. Both sides are very polarized on the issue – the spice heads say there is nothing but heartache and pain to be gained by mashing large orange squashes, while the pumpkin heads say you can’t call it a pumpkin beer unless it actually contains authentic Jack-o’-lantern brains.

Who is right? Damned if I know, I haven’t made one either way. The way I see it, there is only one way to settle this – a pumpkin beer face-off. I shall brew two batches of wonderful and delicious pumpkin beer, one using nothing but spices and one with spices and real pumpkin added, and see which one prevails.

Why spices in both? ALL pumpkin beers contain spices (usually cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc…) – so I’m thinking a pumpkin beer made with real pumpkin but no spices would not be very good. Best way I can think of to compare the two is brew the exact same beer, except for the pumpkin addition, and see if the mouthfeel/body/taste differs at all.

Rumor has it some six-packs of these competing pumpkin beverages might get bottled and distributed as part of a contest near Thanksgiving. Any interest?