The Spoils of Wort: Pumpkin Ale Afterflavoring

You may remember me from such diaries as the last one on pumpkin ale!

The ale continued it’s pace of slow bubbling, and it’s getting on week five in the fermenter. I did start marking down the level of trub on the side and finally realized it wasn’t making more trub. The light fizzing was obviously something else. Infection? Beer-AIDS? What could it be?

I got on the Beer Advocate forums and started looking around. Finally someone suggested that if it’s a Big Brew, it may have a lot of suspended carbonation. Unlike wine, there is no “outgassing” phase since we generally like carbonated beer. But if we have a lot of suspended carbonation, and we have a layer of trub or yeast still suspended in the beer, it creates nucleation sites for the carbonation to be released. It’s the mentos and diet coke effect. Sure enough I took a hydrometer reading and it was down to 1.010, which is where finished beer usually is.

I went to check on my mason jar of spices and was horrified to find all the alcohol had evaporated out and what was left was a disgusting slurry of crap. However, it smelled great! I added a bit more vodka to get it less thick and dumped it into the beer and was met with a bit of fizzing. Yep, suspended carbonation. I tried a shotglass of it and the beer was good, but maybe not as good as it should be. The spices were just a bit disappointed and subdued, but this project also went on twice as long as it should have before bottling. I think for tonight before bottling, I’m going to steep identical levels of spices in hot water to get the aromatics going and dump them in to taste. I may also add a bit of almond.

Is it beer? Yes, and it’s good. It’s dark and malty and there’s enough room left from the mild hopping to let the spices give it some kick without undoing the balance between the malt sweetness and the spicyness of everything else. Is it pumpkiny? Not really. This was the most disappointing part about this brew because I made a royal mess out of a baking sheet to try to get the pumpkin in there. While we missed the target, it’s not a failure either.

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