Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pumpkin Kegging

Inspired by recent talk of mashing and fermenting in a pumpkin I decided instead to take the easy route and serve some commercial pumpkin ale out of a pumpkin.

I took a standard pumpkin, cut the top out scraped out the "guts" like I was getting ready to carve it. I cut a small circle in one side of the pumpkin and then screwed in the spigot from my bottling bucket, it took some extra scarping to get the nut screwed on the inside. I then chilled the pumpkin for a few hours in the refrigerator. I filled the pumpkin with a selection of pumpkin beers (Post Road, Dogfish Head, Saranac, Buffalo Bills, and Smuttynose). Amazingly it worked without leaking and the blend of beers actually tasted pretty good.

I really don't think serving from the pumpkin added much flavor, but it really enhanced the appeal of the beer to the "non-beer" people at the party. The key was to get both the beer and the pumpkin as cold as possible so that the maximum amount of carbonation remained in the beer.

As a plus when the beer was finished we got to carve the pumpkin. I gouged out the eyes and nose and a more artistically gifted friend carved the mustache.


Josh said...

AWESOME, I LOVE IT. I just tried my hand at my first pumpkin beer loosely based on this one. I skipped using an actual pumpkin and used the canned stuff - two cans at flame out. Pumpkin seems to be semi-waxy, even mashed, and did not impart too much of a flavor to the beer. Two teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice before bottling added to the brew significantly, but I think next time I need to put the pumpkin in at 30m. Anyway, neat idea, I am going to theft it for a halloween party.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I made a pumpkin beer two years ago that turned out pretty well. I roasted a sugar pumpkin then puireed it with a bit of water and added it to that mash (in the hope of converting any starches to sugars). It was my only stuck sparge, just awful even with a half pound of rice hulls. I don’t think I got too much actual pumpkin flavor either.

I agree that the spices are really what makes the pumpkin ale style, plenty of people and breweries don’t even bother with the pumpkin.

Good luck taping a pumpkin, just make sure to test it with water before you start dumping your valuable beer in there.

Unknown said...

i had a crazy stuck sparge when i did my pumpkin. i also used 1/2# of rice hulls and they seemed to do nothing.

oh well the beer is fermenting nicely, and smells great, i hope it tastes as such.

Eric said...

That's a pretty cool idea, never thought about that. Would be a fun way to change things up though. Did it have any leaking issues, or did it work pretty smoothly?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The second time I tried this it did leak a bit. The key is to put the spigot in the middle of a large rib. The second time I put it so it crossed over one of the creases between the ridges. Look for a pumpkin that is taller than it is wide so there is less room below the spigot. Hope that helps, good luck!

Haputanlas said...

I know you mentioned that you tried to get the beer and the pumpkin as cold as possible so as to conserve the carbonation. However, I've noticed that really cold beer and really cold containers produce far more head than normal.

I've attempted this with a growler and could only fill it up about half way (After the head settled). What did you do to minimize the amount of head yet maximize the volume of beer in the pumpkin?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

There is something else at play then, I've always had better luck filling chilled growlers. Getting the interior of a bottle/growler wet can also really help.

For the pumpkin it foamed up a bit, but I just kept it topped off with fresh beer whenever it got low.

Drew said...

I tried this for our Day of the Dead party. After hollowing it out, I used a small spray bottle to keep spraying the inside of the pumpkin with bourbon. Worked out pretty well. Might try lightly roasting it with a torch next time.