Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Butternut Brown Autumn Ale

After all the pumpkin brews I downed during my last double brew session, I wanted to do a pumpkin beer really bad.  We made one at adam's place last week using canned pumpkin.  It didn't cause any issues with sparging and seems very promising, but it wasn't mine and I had to have my own in order to retain control of all aspects of the brew.  I like to do as much as possible without using pre-made products and thus did not want to use canned pumpkin, which I hear is actually not pumpkin but some field squash called dickensen. Really its all pretty darn close to the same thing but whatever, I want to prepare my own.  Pumpkins are not available here yet...I mean, there are a few, but right now its all about the butternut squash, a breed of neck pumpkin, that is very in season.  I picked up three large butternut squash from the grocery and went to work peeling and cubing them.  Let me be the first to tell you this is no easy task, and going into this next year, I will probably revert to using the canned pumpkin.  After peeling and cubing the squash, I pre-heated the oven to 350 and spread out a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkled some brown sugar over the top of them.  Why?  I don't know, cause I wanted to and it made the house smell awesome.  It took three batches and by the time I was done, not only was the weather very much autumnal, it was a little too autumnal for me to be outside brewing.  Lower fifties spitting the coldest rain of the season.  I did not want to and did not have enough time left in the day to brew a batch of beer so into the fridge went the squash pieces (cooked) where they have sat for the last two days.

That brings us up to pace and up to right now, about 4:45 pm on a very nice september day.  I struck in about a half hour ago @ about 154 with a grain bill I concocted to be similar to a northern english brown.  I've been drinking quite a bit of newcastle for some unknown reason* at the bar and thought it would accept the spices and squash well...I've never used squash in beer so we'll just have to see how it works out!  I put two and a half pounds of the mashed up butternut squash in the mash with about a half a pound of rice hulls when taking into consideration all the info about stuck pumpkin mashes.  This is about 24% of the mash.  FYI and mine for next year, that left me with about a pound of butternut squash leftover, maybe more, so it looks like I'll be making some pumpkin bread, which is fine by me.  I love that shit.  I don't know exactly how many pounds I started out with...maybe 10-12 lbs raw unpeeled squash, I forgot to write that down.  I'm wondering if I could do this without the rice hulls and then just use the spent grain/squash mix to make bread with?

Man was that awesome.  Adam stopped over to drink/brew beer and eat food.  We made habanero cream cheese stuffed jalepenos and ribeyes on the grill with sauteed garlic n' onions and twice baked mashed potatoes.  I think I have ate eight whole jalepenos at this point in time.  The brew went off with out a hitch. The only problem I encountered with sparging is when I had to stop to regain my focus because hot pepper hands and peeing do not mix.  I really need to keep some gloves around when I do these things.

For spices, I put in one vanilla bean (scraped and chopped up), 4 cloves, a half a mexican cinnamon stick, and about 5 or so grams of semi crushed jamaican allspice berries.  I will be adding 2 more vanilla beans in the secondary.  This one smells and tastes awesome!  I just hope this yeast kicks in.  The only thing left to note is that the smack pack I got from the HBS was slow to swell and after about 10 hours in the fermenter, I still see no signs of life.  I'm sure it will be fine but I'm a little irked as I've had bad luck with semi-outdated yeast lately.  Its so much easier and always more viable when I grow it out myself first.  I need to start a yeast library.

*it was free

UPDATE 10/26/10 - Kinda fell out of the blogosphere? the last month and a half or so.  Being unemployed got to me and I got a bit depressed.  The boil order imperial porter has helped but I want to let it age!!!  Anyway, I have a new job and I'm back.  I haven't really done much lately but put off bottling any chance I can get.  This beer fermented out fine and was aged for two weeks on two more vanilla beans (scraped and chopped up).  I was hoping to have this done for halloween but that's not gonna happen.  I finally bottled it up on 10/24/10 and I'm extremely excited.  The taste is exactly where I wanted it to be and if I don't overcarbonate it, this one is going to be excellent.

UPDATE 11/06/10 - Sampled this one over the last couple days.  Despite the excitement in the last update, I'm relatively disappointed with what I have here.  Disappointed, but not upset or uninspired.  I'm relatively new to using spices in beer.  This is a learning process.  The base beer itself is good, and the spices are good, its the amount of allspice that is the problem.  If I can stress anything I've ever read about brewing with spices its that they need to be used in extreme moderation.  I always feel like I'm not adding enough when I brew with spices and beings that by the time spice additions roll around during brewday, I'm pretty juiced up and historically I decide to put more in than I previously determined was necessary.  Not anymore, lesson learned for sure.  What really impresses me is the body that the butternut squash gave this beer.  It has a very smooth well rounded mouthfeel that I think would be pretty tough to get by any other means.  The spices are spot on too, exactly the flavor I wanted but TOO much.  If I halved or even used only 1/3 of the allspice, this beer would be exactly what I envisioned.  It's definitely getting another go-round next year.  

Butternut Brown
Northern English Brown Ale


Type: All Grain
Date: 9/20/2010
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Brewer: Raymond Wagner
Boil Size: 6.57 gal Asst Brewer: Adam Clark
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Brew Pot (6+gal) and Igloo/Gott Cooler (5 Gal)
Taste Rating(out of 50): 35.0 Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00
Taste Notes:
Amount Item Type % or IBU
8 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 82.93 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 4.88 %
8.0 oz Victory Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 4.88 %
4.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 2.44 %
4.0 oz Chocolate Wheat Malt (400.0 SRM) Grain 2.44 %
4.0 oz Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 2.44 %
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min) Hops 16.3 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (1 min) Hops 0.7 IBU
0.20 oz Allspice (Boil 10.0 min)* Misc *1/3 next year!
0.50 items Cinnamon Stick (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
1.00 items Vanilla (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
2.00 items Vanilla (Secondary 7.0 days) Misc
2.50 lb Squash/Pumpkin (Mash 60.0 min) Misc
4.00 items Clove (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
 Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.052 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.054 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG Measured Final Gravity:1.015
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.00 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.08 %
Bitterness: 17.0 IBU Calories: 242 cal/pint
Est Color: 19.5 SRM Color:
Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge Total Grain Weight: 10.25 lb
Sparge Water: 4.85 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.4 PH
Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
 60 min Mash In Add 12.81 qt of water at 169.6 F 154.0 F 


  1. I've been waiting for a new post. Glad I checked. The Butternut is good, and you need to do one about the graff... and brew some more.

  2. I need a blog update on the sour twins, too.