Sunday, March 15, 2009
Sour Butternut Squash Ale
Sometimes you try a beer that really broadens your perception of what you can do with an ingredient. I am normally not much of a fan of the "standard" pumpkin ale formula (amber, heavily spiced, not much actual pumpkin flavor), but last year my friend Scott shared a bottle of Alpine's Ichabod with me. Ichabod is a pumpkin beer that is made as a different style each year, the 2007 version we had was wine barrel aged for several months with a dose of Brettanomyces.
A sour pumpkin beer may sound like a way out there idea, but for fall 2008 both Jolly Pumpkin (La Parcela) and Allagash (Drunken Promise) did sour/funky pumpkin ales as well. Sadly I have not had the pleasure of trying either of them. It is nice to see several breweries going off the beaten path on a style that normally has so little variation.
I couldn't get much information on Ichabod, so this recipe is not a clone. For the base beer I just came up with a recipe for a malty Belgian brown/red of my own design. The base malt was pils, with some Munich and melanoidin for bready maltiness. I added some wheat and flaked barley for body and head retention. The grist was rounded out with two types of crystal malt for residual sweetness and flavor, and a bit of carafa for color.
Pumpkin was out of season when I wanted to brew, so I decided to use butternut squash instead (butternut squash tastes better and is easier to work with than pumpkin anyway). I was amazed that my 3.75 lb squash
(after it was seeded, peeled, cubed, and roasted) yielded only about 1.5 lbs to add to the mash.
I may add some more to the secondary fermenter at some point if the beer doesn't have much squash flavor.
For spices I went with classic fall choices, nutmeg and cinnamon. I think nutmeg in particular pairs well with the flavor of squash. I wanted the spices in a supporting role (there is so much going on in this beer as it is), so I just added a couple grams of each. As always it is easier to add more spices later than deal with an over-spiced beer.
The beer was pitched onto the yeast cake from the Funky Flower, so it should get pretty sour. I added 1 oz of medium toast oak cubes which had been soaking in cognac since last summer. I also added a cup of wine to help simulate wine barrel aging. I am hoping that the squash, spices, oak, and bacteria/yeast combine to make a complex autumnal flavor. This one should be ready to bottle by late fall, but it is really up to the yeast/bacteria to decide.
Recipe Specifics (All-Grain)
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.19
Anticipated OG: 1.067
Anticipated SRM: 16.7
Anticipated IBU: 17.4
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71 %
Wort Boil Time: 120 Minutes
7.00 lbs. German Pilsener
2.00 lbs. Munich Malt
1.56 lbs. Butternut Squash
1.00 lbs. Wheat Malt
0.50 lbs. Crystal 90L
0.50 lbs. Crystal 55L
0.25 lbs. Flaked Barley
0.25 lbs. Melanoidin Malt
0.13 lbs. Carafa Special II
0.63 oz. Amarillo @ 60 min.
2.00 gm Cinnamon @ 0 min.
1.00 gm Nutmeg @ 0 min.
1.00 oz Medium Toast French Oak Beans in secondary
WYeast 1056 + dregs (La Folie +Russian River)
Profile: Washington DC
90 min. @ 156
2/27/09 Peeled, cubed, and roasted a 3.75 lb butternut squash. 45 min @ 400 F. The pieces ended up soft, with brown spots, and a sweet aroma (and only 1 lb 9 oz).
2/28/09 Brewed by myself
Added the squash to the mash in chunks. Collected 7.5 gallons of 1.047 wort. Cinnamon was jarred, nutmeg was fresh grated.
Pitched onto the whole yeast/bacteria cake from the sour honey wheat beer that was brewed two weeks earlier.
3/14/09 Racked to secondary. Added 1 oz of oak cubes soaked in cognac. Also poured in a cup of J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon. Volume about 4.75 gallons.
3/21/09 Small pellicle starting to form. The sample I pulled tastes pretty good, some spice and wine/oak flavors evident, and maybe a hint of squash.
8/09/09 Added a bit of Primere Cuvee for eventual carbonation.
2/10/10 Bottled with 3.25 oz of cane sugar. Final gravity 1.012, surprisingly high for how sour the beer tastes. Dry hopped 6 bottles with 2 Citra cones and 1 Simcoe cone.
3/16/10 First tasting of the dry hopped version. It is good, but I should have reviewed it earlier when the hops were fresher.
Didn't do too well in the 2010 NHC, judges wanted more spice/quash flavor and aroma.
5/6/10 First tasting of the plain version. Very tasty, lots of sourness pretty complex. I don't think it needs more spice/squash (both are just over threshold).
6/9/10 Last bottle of the dry hopped version. Not what it once was, but still pretty tasty. That hops have gotten a bit grassy, not too surprising after 4 months on them in the bottle.