Based on the number of search engine referrals I’m starting to get from people looking for pumpkin beer recipes, as well as the flurry of Twitter chatter on the topic, I’m guessing home brewers everywhere are getting ready for fall.

I brewed a pumpkin ale last year, and it turned out pretty well. As part of the recipe, I added about 30 ounces of pumpkin pie filling from a can directly into the boil at about the 30 minute mark. It definitely darkened up the beer, which I was OK with, and you could certainly taste it in the finished product (though it wasn’t as pumpkin pie-like as some might prefer).

But this year, I wanted to switch it up a little, more for the sake of experimentation than anything. Instead of using pumpkin pie filling from a can (which I’ve since learned may not really be pumpkin at all, but rather cheaper forms of squash), I wanted to make this year’s batch as authentic as I could.

So I drove around town Saturday morning, hitting up every grocery store and roadside vegetable stand I could find in search of the gourd. Unfortunately, my efforts proved fruitless (ha!). I realized I was probably a few weeks early before pumpkin becomes more readily available, as noone had it in stock. So, I reluctantly resigned myself once again to using pie filling (100% pumpkin…I checked), but this time in the mash instead of directly in the boil to see how it impacts flavor and aroma.

However, if you do procure a pumpkin and want to prep it for the mash, you can simply cube about 5 pounds worth, lay it out on a cookie sheet, and bake the pumpkin at 375 degrees for an hour to soften the meat. Add the slightly cooled pumpkin directly to the mash along with the grains. Not sure how much fermentable sugar might be added with this method, but I’d expect fairly negligible amounts.

For this year’s version, I also opted to switch up the grain bill just a bit…I backed off the 2-row by a few pounds compared to last year’s recipe, as I didn’t want the beer to be an ass kicker in the 7-9% ABV range (I also did away with the brown sugar for the same reason). Also, instead of using Carapils to add some mouthfeel and texture, I went with oatmeal, which I thought would add a bit more interest and complexity to the beer.

Here’s the recipe in its entirety:

Mash at 152 degrees for 60 minutes
Boil volume 6.5 gallons (batch volume 5 gallons)
Target OG: 1.056 FG: 1.014 (should get it to about 5.5% ABV)

7 lb 2-row pale malt
1.5 lb Vienna malt
1 lb Munich malt 
1 lb flaked oats
0.5 lb Crystal 60L
.25 lb Chocolate malt
30 oz pumpkin pie filling (not spiced, just straight pumpkin…add to mash)
2 oz Willamette (add at 60 and 15 minutes)
Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale (1000 ml starter)

Spices (add at 10 minutes)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks