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Jim Doherty

Pumpkin beer attempt

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I attempted a pumpkin pie beer by experimenting with some left over grains, not sure what I wound up with after bottling today. Here are the details:

I steeped 2 oz Honey malt, 2 oz Pilsen malt and 10 oz of canned pumpkin puree (farmers market organic pumpkin to be exact) in a muslin bag for 30 minutes at about 160 degrees F. Basically followed the standard partial mash recipes protocol. After the 30 minutes, I boiled for about 10 minutes, removed from heat and added 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice, then added a can of Grand Bohemian Czech Pilsner, then added to my 3 g Fast Fermenter as per the usual steps.

I used a whole pack of Safale US-05, pitch temp at 74 degrees F. I fermented in my keezer at 68 degrees for 8 days, then moved to my usual storage spot under the stairs at around 73 degrees. Total ferment time was 22 days.

OG was 1.118 according to my brix refractometer. For the final, I used the hydrometer and was at about 1.010 to 1.012. 

Here is my dilemma. It had a very odd smell, not bad, but not really good, hard to place. Didn't really match any of the standard off flavor descriptions. I assume it is related to the pumpkin and the spices. When I was bottling it, there was a very faint scent of the spices, but that could have been wishful thinking on my part. It tasted almost like a dry cider, not pumpkin beer like at all. 

I had meant to add some fuggle hops for the 10 minute boil, but guess I forgot.

3 questions:

Is there hope for this concoction conditioning into some semblance of a pumpkin beer? 

Is it possible to over pitch by using the whole pack of Safale US-05? I noticed the pack is about twice the size/weight of the yeast that comes with the cans of extract. This is my first time using that yeast and also the keezer to control fermenting temps. 

Does this seem like a candidate for bottle bombs due to the taste and/or gravity readings?

 

I plan to let it ride and sample after at least month in the bottle, but curious as what the experts have to say and advise. Thanks in advance. This group is awesome. 

Jim

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ive never used pumpkin in a recipe however i looked at the MRB recipe for Pumpkin Rising and it looks like the instructions say to add it a week into fermentation, and that is after baking for a while, not with your steeping grains. I think you'd get more of the pumpkin flavor by adding it after 1 week. Pumpkin spice ale instructions tell you to add it once the wort is in the LBK. Hey, maybe it turns out great for you. Let us know!

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I've never used the brix refractometer, but if that OG is correct then the ABV sounds like it is running about 14%. I think that's too high a gravity for US-05 and it could be that some other alcohols like fusels may be involved.

 

Others far more experienced than me might know better, but I think that too high a gravity for yeasts, the alcohol will kill off the yeast and that's likely to produce off flavors.

 

@RickBeer can likely correct my impressions on this and advise on your mistakes, but what's done is done and you'll have to see what you end up with. Sounds like it would be way

too strong for me but I'm somewhat of a lightweight and about 7% is as high I'll drink and at that its about one and done!!

 

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JD,

 

There is no way with the process you described that your actual OG was 1.118.  That is also true if your FG was 1.010.  That just will not happen in fermentation with beer yeast.

 

I would need more of a description of the odd smell to help out there.  I will say that a pitch at 74 is not really good.

 

Dawg

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As stated, it's impossible for the OG to be that.  Absolutely impossible.  And fermentation was way too high.  

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While I have been brewing the Mr. Beer kits for over a year or so now, up until recently I haven't bothered with gravity readings and checking pitch temps and fermenting temps (which explains a lot on why my brews have been just ok, I know, no lecture needed on that aspect) so I am still pretty new at the "proper" ways of brewing. The pumpkin beer was actually my first attempt at fermenting at a controlled temp. I had just bought the keezer and other equipment off Craigslist to eventually go all grain, 5 gallon batches (not quite there yet time wise and still need a few more pieces). 

Up until recently, I just went with the standard protocol of Mr. Beer - 3 weeks in fermenter, 3 weeks carbonation, and minimum 3 weeks conditioning and ferment up to 76 degrees max. I hadn't been checking my pitch temps as well, I had assumed my refrigerated filter water was enough, but now use gallon spring water jugs and put in freezer about an hour before brewing. 

I bought the brix refractometer recently, so it is most likely user error on my part. All I know is that when I read the sample from the wort the reading was at the top of the scale. Maybe all the pumpkin puree floating in there threw it off. 

Regardless, I am not so concerned with the alcohol volume in this batch, but more so wondering what the experts think I may wind up with. Eventually I will find out. 😀

The reason I steeped the pumpkin instead of adding it straight to the fermenter at the start or after a week as some recipes call for was that I read a recipe online that added the puree in the boil and another guy said he got a bad infected batch and not to assume it was properly pasteurized in the can.  

As far as the odor, I noticed it when I first emptied the trub jar at the one week mark of fermenting. I assumed it was due to the pumpkin puree. It's very hard to describe, as I never smelled anything like it in any brews thus far. It was almost like a sour, dirty smell, like a dirty sock, but not strong, more faint, if that makes sense. The actual "beer" when I bottled was pretty clear, with a slight orange color. At start of fermenting, it was a bright orange, but slowly darkened. The taste, as I said, was like a very strong dry cider and not beer like at all. 

Taking out the obvious errors in OG reading and pitch temp, what are the expert opinions on what this might end up as? Will it stay cider like or morph back closer to some type of beer? 

Again, thank you all for the replies. 

 

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2 hours ago, Jim Doherty said:

While I have been brewing the Mr. Beer kits for over a year or so now, up until recently I haven't bothered with gravity readings and checking pitch temps and fermenting temps (which explains a lot on why my brews have been just ok, I know, no lecture needed on that aspect) so I am still pretty new at the "proper" ways of brewing. The pumpkin beer was actually my first attempt at fermenting at a controlled temp. I had just bought the keezer and other equipment off Craigslist to eventually go all grain, 5 gallon batches (not quite there yet time wise and still need a few more pieces). 

Up until recently, I just went with the standard protocol of Mr. Beer - 3 weeks in fermenter, 3 weeks carbonation, and minimum 3 weeks conditioning and ferment up to 76 degrees max. I hadn't been checking my pitch temps as well, I had assumed my refrigerated filter water was enough, but now use gallon spring water jugs and put in freezer about an hour before brewing. 

I bought the brix refractometer recently, so it is most likely user error on my part. All I know is that when I read the sample from the wort the reading was at the top of the scale. Maybe all the pumpkin puree floating in there threw it off. 

Regardless, I am not so concerned with the alcohol volume in this batch, but more so wondering what the experts think I may wind up with. Eventually I will find out. 😀

The reason I steeped the pumpkin instead of adding it straight to the fermenter at the start or after a week as some recipes call for was that I read a recipe online that added the puree in the boil and another guy said he got a bad infected batch and not to assume it was properly pasteurized in the can.  

As far as the odor, I noticed it when I first emptied the trub jar at the one week mark of fermenting. I assumed it was due to the pumpkin puree. It's very hard to describe, as I never smelled anything like it in any brews thus far. It was almost like a sour, dirty smell, like a dirty sock, but not strong, more faint, if that makes sense. The actual "beer" when I bottled was pretty clear, with a slight orange color. At start of fermenting, it was a bright orange, but slowly darkened. The taste, as I said, was like a very strong dry cider and not beer like at all. 

Taking out the obvious errors in OG reading and pitch temp, what are the expert opinions on what this might end up as? Will it stay cider like or morph back closer to some type of beer? 

Again, thank you all for the replies. 

 

 

Having never done a pumpkin beer I have nothing to add as far as what you can expect.  I just want to ask that you follow-up on this thread once you start drinking them as I'm very curious as to how the batch'll turn out.

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2 hours ago, Jim Doherty said:

I bought the brix refractometer recently, so it is most likely user error on my part. All I know is that when I read the sample from the wort the reading was at the top of the scale. Maybe all the pumpkin puree floating in there threw it off.  

If there was a lot of puree floating around in the wort that would explain the reading being off.

2 hours ago, Jim Doherty said:

As far as the odor, I noticed it when I first emptied the trub jar at the one week mark of fermenting. I assumed it was due to the pumpkin puree. It's very hard to describe, as I never smelled anything like it in any brews thus far. It was almost like a sour, dirty smell, like a dirty sock, but not strong, more faint, if that makes sense. The actual "beer" when I bottled was pretty clear, with a slight orange color. At start of fermenting, it was a bright orange, but slowly darkened. The taste, as I said, was like a very strong dry cider and not beer like at all. 

OK, so the odor coupled with the strong dry cider taste sounds like it might probably be some type of infection.  If that is the case, there is not much chance of it getting better.  It is possible that the pumpkin didn't give you the infection but possibly the pumpkin pie spice because you didn't boil it.  Also the pumpkin may have just degraded in the fermenter and basically started to rot.  You said you used organic pumpkin puree from a farmers market.  It most likely was not cooked like canned pumpkin would be.  That would make a difference as well.

 

Use this link https://learn.kegerator.com/off-flavors-in-beer/  and see if you can identify the smell based on these descriptions.  Then you can see what the cause is and try to correct it.

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@Jim Doherty, perhaps a dumb question, but I recently witnessed it. When did you take your refractometer reading? Was it at full volume in your fermenter or in your kettle? 

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I took the reading from the full volume of the fermenter. 

 

Also to clarify, it was canned pumpkin I got at the grocery store, the brand name is Farmers Market Organic. I added the pumpkin spice at the end of boil, so I would think that that would kill anything bad that might be in there. I am thinking that it is the pumpkin puree that is causing the off smell and taste. 

 

There was nothing unusual visually in the fermenter, such as floating masses of gunk or pellicles, etc.  I have seen dozens of pics online from people with all kinds of shit floating in the top of the fermenter asking if it's an infection. So I guess my stupid question is: can there still be an infection if there is nothing visually abnormal (no floating masses in or on top of the beer)? 

 

It seems this Frankenbeer will be one to remember in the long haul. I will definitely keep this thread updated as time passes. 🤢 hopefully this isn't me after sampling it in a few weeks. lol

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I wanted to do an update. Sorry for lateness, been a little busy with work. Around the first week of November, I put one bottle in the fridge for 2 days then tried it. It tasted like a sour beer, can't recall what it resembled, but definitely not pumpkin beer. I only drank about 3 sips then dumped it, didn't want to risk getting sick. Was not good.  Reminded me of an experiment I did last spring where I used some left over Mr. Beer yeast and 2 gallons of organic apple cider from the super market. At first those tasted like a dry cider, after two months, hard to drink. Over the summer they got a little better, but not good. I left one bottle (plastic Mr. Beer liter bottle) in the fridge for about 6 months and it was finally pretty good.

Anyway, I put another bottle in the fridge 2 days ago, will probably try it end of week or this weekend and will try to update sooner. 

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Not a scientific study, but I will say that it seems that pumpkin beers have a very high failure rate, as in "this doesn't taste like pumpkin beer".

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Agreed, but they all seem to have a similar flavor. This thing I brewed is unlike anything I have brewed so far. I have since used the same equipment to brew a few other styles of beer. I am hoping it's not an infection that may affect things down the line if it's in the fermenter (I have four 3G Fast Fermenters and don't know which one I used) or another item I use across the board. Unfortunately, everything I brewed since this one is still conditioning and I guess I won't know until later if it is an infection that can carry over. I starsan the crap out of everything, so I hope not. Maybe I somehow brewed a cider style instead of an ale, or what ever this thing was supposed to be. LOL.

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Tip - number your fermenters.  Put in your brewing notes which fermenter you used.  Put your batch numbers on your bottles, which then ties back to the fermenter.  Future issues discovered can be traced back to a common cause sometimes.

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Thank you. Very sound and valuable advice! After almost I year of winging it, I recently started keeping a log with details. I still have so much to learn..... 

 

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I have been brewing for 6 1/2 years.  I've made mistakes as recently as this year...

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On 9/27/2018 at 12:32 PM, BDawg62 said:

JD,

 

There is no way with the process you described that your actual OG was 1.118.  That is also true if your FG was 1.010.  That just will not happen in fermentation with beer yeast.

 

I would need more of a description of the odd smell to help out there.  I will say that a pitch at 74 is not really good.

 

Dawg

 

I'm no 'expert' by far, as the guys on this forum know, but I just made some MRB Pumpkin Rising and the one thing that jumped out at me when I read Jim D's post was the 74F at pitch.  That's way too high, isn't it?  I added my pumpkin and spices after the first week, after baking it in the oven (to caramalize the sugars) at 350F for 40 minutes.  Jim's batch may still work out, I don't know enough to say one way or the other, but I'm pretty sure the pitch temp was way high for the recipe and the yeast.  I wish him good luck and hope he feeds back to us later, when the brew is ready to drink. 

 

(also, my original readings for the MRB recipe was 11.7 brix with a 1.047;  finals were 5.2 & 1.004.  But then, I took no readings upon adding the puree and spices so these numbers are not really indicitive of actual abv).

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I attempted to drink another one. Still very sour/cider like, no hint at all that it was supposed to be a pumpkin beer or any kind of beer. I think this may be my first dump batch. I am going to keep letting it ride. I managed to get down half a bottle with no ill effects. I probably could have finished it, but wanted to save room for good beer. For the record, I like sour beers, but not this one. It's clear in the glass, good carbonation, looks like beer...…. 

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10 hours ago, Jim Doherty said:

I attempted to drink another one. Still very sour/cider like, no hint at all that it was supposed to be a pumpkin beer or any kind of beer. I think this may be my first dump batch. I am going to keep letting it ride. I managed to get down half a bottle with no ill effects. I probably could have finished it, but wanted to save room for good beer. For the record, I like sour beers, but not this one. It's clear in the glass, good carbonation, looks like beer...…. 

Bummer.  Other than the high pitch temp, I can't say why your beer didn't turn out - if you followed all the MRB instructions correctly.  I made this beer about 5 batches back and mine turned out fine.  The only thing different that I did was to cut back a bit on the added spices (from advice garnered here on the forum) and I'm glad I did.  It was good, but almost too spicy still.  Definitely NOT sour/cider like at all.  I don't know what else to say...

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my one and only pumpkin beer was a mr beer pumpkin weis. it came out horrid... mostly due to operator error. partly due to badly sanitized pumpkin puree from libbys canning plant in mexico. i didnt roast the puree.. dumped a whole can into the fermenter. what a mess. long story short, the wort developed a lacto bacter infection. it had big snotty grey bubbles on the wort. it stunk. it tasted like beer mixed with unflavored sour yogurt.  it was a pain to bottle..

 

i drank it anyway. the last bottle was actually tolerable after several months but still kind of yuck. never will i do a pumpkin beer again. they just arent my thing. tried one from the liquor store and it was disgusting too.

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On 1/23/2019 at 10:35 AM, Jim Doherty said:

I attempted to drink another one. Still very sour/cider like, no hint at all that it was supposed to be a pumpkin beer or any kind of beer. I think this may be my first dump batch. I am going to keep letting it ride. I managed to get down half a bottle with no ill effects. I probably could have finished it, but wanted to save room for good beer. For the record, I like sour beers, but not this one. It's clear in the glass, good carbonation, looks like beer...…. 

@Jim Doherty, sorry to hear about your beer fail, I think most us have hit that wall a few times.

 

When it's happened to me I recorded what the most likely cause was and recommended solution, and then if I think there's no chance it's an issue that might condition out given time, I get over it . Bottles get cleaned, sanitized, and back into rotation after the bad beer got dumped.

 

Lol, I've brewed a few batches that were technically correct but after giving them the benefit of doubt, I found that yeast or recipe just was not in my wheelhouse after all. Again noted what I didn't like in my spreadsheet  and moved on. Too many good commercial and home brews chilled in the fridge for me to keep something that I don't enjoy.

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