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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Spice Must Flow!

Pumpkin Spice Beers:

For the past few months I’ve been reading the original Dune series, by Frank Herbert. In the Dune universe everything is centered around the “spice”. It extends life, allows interstellar space travel, and is described as having a strong cinnamon flavor and aroma. Throughout the books, characters are constantly drinking spice coffee, spice beer, or eating spice laced food. I’m a huge geek so it was no surprise to anyone who knows me that I changed up my usual coffee, a light roasted breakfast blend, for a cinnamon flavored blend.

Over the weekend, I wanted to brew but couldn’t decide what. When my roommate Ted told me to brew a spice beer I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of that! In addition to Dune, my brew club is hosting a club “brewers challenge” on spice beers at the end of October, and fall is almost here which means Halloween parties and Thanksgiving dinner. How did I not think of this sooner? Pumpkin spice beer here I come!

I haven’t brewed a spice beer in a very long time so I had to do a little research first. The BJCP guidelines for spice beers are very non-specific. Basically the guidelines state that the entry must declare the spices used as well as the underlying style. While useful for judges it didn’t get me any closer to a recipe.  Next I hit up Brewing Classic Styles. The recipe there is a very clean porter style beer, this is important to let the spice flavors really shine. In Brewing Classic Styles, it’s recommended to use individual spices rather than a pumpkin pie spice blend so that you can adjust levels to taste.

What? Pumpkin pie spice? When most people think pumpkin pie they think of the spices in it, not the actual pumpkin flavor. Pumpkin on its own has little flavor. I found many online sources for roasting pumpkin (to enhance its flavor) for home brew but I knew I didn’t have the time or energy to do that. Pumpkin pie spice is Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, and Allspice. These spices could go well in either a porter or a stout. (Side note: the main difference between these two styles is Roasted Barley, required for a stout, not allowed in a porter). You can use about a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half of pumpkin pie spice for moderately bodied and hopped ale. You can also use 6 to 10 pounds of oven roasted pumpkin if you so desire. Cut the pumpkin into small pieces, roast at 325 for an hour or so, let cool, and then either add directly to your mash (you may want to use rice hulls) or add to water with your specialty grains. I took the Brewing Classic Styles method and used individual spices with a basic Robust Porter recipe.

All grain recipe:
10 lbs Ameican 2-row malt
1 lb. Dark Munich Malt
1/2 lb. Crystal 40L
1/2 lb. Crystal 120L
1/2 lb. Special Roast Malt (50L)
1.5 to 2 oz. Goldings at 60 mins. (you could also use Fuggles or maybe Saaz)
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2. tsp. Ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. Allspice

You could use about 1 ½ tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice in place of the separate spices. All spices are ground and as fresh as possible. I added my spices to the last 5 minutes of the boil in a spice bag. Mash at about 154F for a medium bodied beer.

Extract recipe:
8 lbs Light Malt Extract
1 lb Dark Munich Malt (if you can find Munich malt extract use 0.5 lb. instead)
0.33 lb. Crystal 40L
0.33 Crystal 120L
0.25 lb Special Roast
Use the same hops and spices as above, adding spices in the last 5 minutes of the boil.

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