My favorite pumpkin ale from Shipyard hits stores in a week or so, but I’m really looking forward to the end of September. That’s when my first batch of Mr. Beer pumpkin lager should be good to go.
Now, I know that Mr. Beer tends to get a bad rap from homebrew purists, but I have to honestly say that I’ve been using it for about four years now and have been pretty happy with most of the beer I’ve brrewed. So far, I’ve brewed West Coast Pale Ale, Bewitched Red Ale, Octoberfest Vienna Lager, Whispering Wheat Weizenbier and the Witty Monk Witbier I just finished was damned good. Of course, I did have one stinker in there as the Firecracker Red Ale was horrible, but I’m not sure if that was my fault because it was the first time I tried brewing with fruit. But, as any good brewer would, I sucked it up and drank the entire eight-liter batch myself because I didn’t want to see it go to waste.
So, last year around Thanksgiving, I made sure to pick up an extra can of pumpkin puree just for this occasion. Then, a couple weeks ago, I plunked down $16 with Mr. Beer for a can of West Coast Pale Ale, one can of Mellow Amber Unhopped Malt Extract and a packet of dry brewing yeast. The only other things I had to provide were brown sugar, ground cinnamon and nutmeg.
While my wife sat in our sunroom praying I wouldn’t mess up the entire kitchen, I dove right in a couple nights ago and got started.
Brewing with Mr. Beer is actually very simple. I just filled the supplied keg with 4-quarts of cold water. Then, I measured 4 cups of water into a 3-quart pot and brought it to a boil. Next, I added a 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 2 tsp of ground cinnamon and a 1/2 tsp of nutmeg. Whew… did that smell good.
After that, it was just a matter of stirring in the west coast pale ale beer mix and the unhopped malt extract before pouring everything into the “keg.” After adding a little water to bring the keg to the 8.5 quart mark, I stirred it, added the pumpkin, stirred it some more, added yeast, waited, then stirred it yet again.
After saying a few prayers, I screwed on the lid and stuck the keg in a small closet in my basement, where it’s always right around 68 degrees. That’s where it will sit for the next two weeks, at which time I’ll bottle it using eight, one-liter plastic bottles which will lager for about another month.
All in all, it took about 30 minutes from start-to-finish and I only spilled a little bit when my wife wasn’t looking. I’d say that’s a winner across the board!
Of course, Tom Petty knew what he was talking about. The waiting is the hardest part.
How will it taste? Did I stir it enough? Did I sanitize everything properly before starting? Is it going to be too cool in the basement for the keg? Oh my… it’s amazing I can even sleep at night knowing that my beer is sitting defenseless in my basement, but that’s the way it goes.
We’ll see if I’m enjoying pumpkin lager or if I’m forcing down a bad batch of brew in a couple weeks.