Ok, it’s official, ‘Hello, My Name is Beer’ now has a new resident brewer – Lucas Victor Steiner! My son! He was born on August 7th and can already say ‘Porter’, ‘Cascade Hops’ and ‘Imperial Pint’. Well, maybe not, but I can see the beer brewing fire in his eyes growing already. As soon as he can grasp a hop cone, he’ll be helping daddy make a new beer!
And, Lucas has played a big role in inspiring our next brewing concoction – a Pumpkin Ale, as ‘he is our cute lil’ Punkin’!’. Well, that and I just really want to make a Pumpkin Ale that actually tastes like pumpkin… or at least more of what I think a pumpkin ale SHOULD taste like. I feel like a lot of pumpkin ales on the market have ‘Pumpkin’ or ‘Punkin’ on the label/ingredients list, but when the fine ale touches my tongue, the orange gourd flavor is no where to be found (or just minimally) – even with the modern pioneer of the pumpkin ale: ‘Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale’. Though a fine beer by itself, I just don’t taste the “Pumpkin Pie in a bottle” like it claims. So, with this recipe, I plan on trying something ‘new’ taking it ‘olde school’…
Did you know that Pumpkin Beer was one of the first beers made in America? Well, it makes sense if you think about it – with their new, un-cultivated terrain, a lack of luscious fields to grow in and little to no tools to reap and harvest what fields they had, it just wasn’t that easy to acquire barley/wheat for making beer. So, they had to rely on other sources of sugar to supplement what barley/wheat they had. In tight times, they commonly supplemented their beer or just made it purely from corn. But corn has it’s limitations in terms of sugar conversion and general nutrition, so brewers tried other things – molasses, apples and random vegetables being among them. Benjamin Franklin was known to make a mean molasses beer for his family, though most records show that making beer with a large amount of molasses was, ‘barely a step above dung’. Though a lot of ingredients did not work out well, Pumpkin was one that did. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and one of the first big brewers of the time, Samuel Adams was known to make tasty brew of this bright orange vegetable.
However, the worthy challenge we are inviting now is how to mesh the old flavor with the new style. As you see, the beer back then and the beer today are completely different monsters. ‘Their’ beer was made to be nutritious (so it was thick, complex and murky) while ours is meant to be refreshing, tasty and fun. So, I still need to do some testing to mesh styles, but I at least plan on baking a pumpkin (after making a jack-o-lantern out of it of course) and adding the meat and the seeds to the mash. I also want to research what kind of spices they added to their beers in the place of hops (as hops were heavily taxed at the time and could not be acquired cheaply for the average family).
Yay! I haven’t brewed in a while, and what a wonderful adventure to start off the new season with! Stay tuned for more updates!
-Matt, Head Brewer