Pumpkin Beer - a family affair.

The temperatures are starting to wane a little. The sun is setting a little quicker, and the sun is rising a little slower. You know what that means....

NO! Not PSL time - seriously wrong blog for that. Back of the line for you!

Last year's version came in as above. Good, but strong.
It's pumpkin beer time! (toooootally different  ;-)  )  In my case, a strong pumpkin ale - a sort of repeat from last year. Sort of in that my grain bill was the same, but genius brewer here forgot to check his hop supply and had to make some brew-day substitutions. I also decided to up the volume a bit and knock the ABV down to single digits.  It should still be a high single digit though.  So here's a little brew-day review of Powerslide, round 2.

The choice came down to Saturday or Sunday to brew. It became clear very quickly that Sunday would be the best choice. Saturday was full of yard work and attempting to keep the kids busy while my lovely wife worked on more weighted blankets for her surprisingly busy Etsy shop, Soothing Fabrics.  Attempting was certainly the key word...

Sunday came and the cooler weather was perfect - cooler in the morning and not too warm for hanging around a boiling kettle in the afternoon.  The kids were primed and ready for some backyard brewing time, especially my son, who had been talking about brewing a beer for at least a week by this point.  My lovely wife was even kind enough to cut and roast the squash for me that I use in this brew...even more kind since it was a smaller homegrown pair that were difficult to scrape off the skins.

My lovely wife, taking care of the roasted squash.
Everything went pretty smoothly, probably since everyone was ready to have a brew day - we hadn't done one in a long time.  Mashed in at a little above temp, but knocked it down with a little recirculation and it held the remainder of the time.

Can you smell the grainy goodness?
I'm still loving having this massive burner - kicked up the water to sparge temperature in about 10 minutes and once I was through with the rinsing/sparging, it brought it boil before I could eek out the last bits of liquid from the mash tun/cooler.

While all of this was going on, the kids got their brew on as well.  My son put together an earthy brew featuring pine cones and a bit of mulch while my daughter created something a bit more complicated, perhaps Italian, featuring tomatoes and oregano.  ...and potatoes.  ...and the roasted squash skins.  What can we say - sometimes you just use what you can find!  Most importantly, they had a good time when not helping with hop additions.

Earthy goodness.
A savory assortment of flavors.
Daddy's little brew-day helpers.
The kids did eventually wear out from the hard work of brewing and retreated to the house. Thankfully, the timing worked out well so I could clean up their brews while mine finished boiling.

By the end of the brew day, I was left with a great smelling brew that came in at about 1.084 OG.  But then there's the questionable starter.  Didn't mention that just yet, did I?  Well, something strange materialized at the top of the settled out yeast recently. It looked like a tiny little dome on the moon - same color as the yeast, but everything else in the jar was completely level/flat.  I didn't think much of it at the time, especially since the Belgian yeast that is in another jar has a profile reminiscent of the cascade range.  I made the starter the night before and pitched it. Then I noticed that the little lump held together as I swirled the yeast in the flask.  THEN I noticed it had a dark spot.  So I sanitized a spoon and fished it out.
Basically what it looked like in the jar.
The underbelly. What? The? Heck??

So here I sit with 3 gallons of lovely wort fermenting away (yes, it's motoring away) wondering if I've infected the thing by being slightly cheap and/or lazy. Time will tell and, of course, I'm hoping for the best.

Oh - also bottled up the cider last night.  Apple/pear with blackberries. Came in at just under 7%, but boy oh boy is that a strong almost 7%!  I might be wishing I used 12oz bottles instead of the 16 ouncers, but I was saving the 12's for the pumpkin beer.

What's brewing next?  Seeing as how I've been told that I have too many hops in the freezer, it's definitely time for round 2 of the Imperial IPA.  I'm thinking some combination of Chinook, Citra, and Cascade...or Centennial. I'll have to see how it all pencils out since I did 10 hop additions as well as dry hopping last time.  Until then, I'll be working on harvesting a few hops here and there since the Hoods and Willamette hops are ready to get picked.