The Brew Site

Elysian, Pumpkin, New School

Terrific pair of articles today at The New School on Elysian Brewing’s Great Pumpkin Beer Festival, and an interview with Dick Cantwell, Elysian’s Brewmaster (and “the pumpkin guy”). I’ve been wanting to go to the Pumpkin Beer Fest for years now, and Ezra’s review (with lots of pictures) is the next best thing. And how I’ve been yammering lately about moving beyond the “classic” pumpkin-pie-in-a-glass style pumpkin beer? Check it out:

Some of the more interesting offerings were Rock Bottom’s Cerveza Calabaza, brewed with two gallons per barrel of Whey from Beecher’s Cheese to add creaminess; Silver City’s Punk Rauchen, a smoked German style rauchbier, only instead of using smoked malts they roasted fresh pumpkin over apple wood for 6 hours before adding it to the mash; Elysian’s Coche de Medianoche, a Mexican-themed pumpkin beer made with cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, pan-roasted guajillo chilies, and both Indian and African cayenne pepper, with a late addition of fresh epazote from Prosser Farms. This was definitely one of the standouts.

The interview with Cantwell is just as good, and this paragraph jumped out me (as someone who brews with pumpkin almost every year):

We mostly use frozen, blanched and puréed pumpkin from a farm in Oregon.  We get it in 30 pound buckets.  We’ve also used canned, and we’ve roasted them as well (as we did in this year’s Saison of the Witch, brewed with the Tom Douglas restaurants here in Seattle, with pumpkins and fennel from their farm near Prosser). We add it in the mash, kettle and fermenter, and have had few problems with runoff or fermentation.  Pumpkin tends to thin expected gravities (because of the water content), so that has to be kept in mind.  You also get different effects of pumpkin character depending on the style, yeast and techniques used. Some are very sort of slippery pumpkiny, others barely discernible.  I figure if we’re making better than a dozen every year, it’s okay to have varying effects.  I do think it’s important to be able to pick up some pumpkin character, though.

I had never considered water content from pumpkins before.