Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

CUJO SPICE 3.0 pumpkin helles lager

For my annual fall pumpkin beer this year, I decided to switch up the base recipe. In 2011 I did a rye ale base and in 2010 I did just a basic amber/pale ale base. 2012 is the year of the lager for me (#2012!), so I opted to do a helles base. Thought it would set a decent, unobtrusive stage for the pumpkin to shine through. Also, pumpkin… halloween… hell-es… Sounded appropriate.

I brewed this on 8/26, back when it was still relatively warm out. It was really tough to get the wort down to lager pitching temp (low 50’s). My ground water+immersion chiller only took it to 78°F, after which I transferred to the fermenter and let it cool further in the fridge. I woke up by happenstance at around 2:00am (5 hrs. after putting the fermenter in the fridge) and the temp had made it to the low 50’s, so I pitched at that time. When I woke up the next morning, the temp had continued to drop all the way down to the mid-low 40’s. Oops! I turned the temperature regulator up further on the fridge and brought the temp of the wort back up to the 50’s over the next day. I believe this attributed to a slow start to fermentation. All in all, it took nearly 36 hrs. for visible signs of fermentation to show. Something I’ll make sure to do better in the future is to calibrate the temp of my chest fridge/freezer further ahead of time when I plan to ferment in there. For this brew day, I didn’t turn up the temp until I started brewing. I really should allot 48 hrs. to accurately move the temp from 37°F (where it generally sits) up to the low 50’s for lager fermentation.

Here’s the recipe (based on Jamil’s helles in Brewing Classic Styles):

CUJO SPICE 3.0

5.35 gallons
All Grain
1.050~OG→1.007~FG→5.6%ABV 15 IBU 5.2°L SRM
Yeasts
1600 ml starter 1 day prior
WLP838 – Southern German Lager
White Labs (Lager)
2 vials
Fermentables
11 pounds
Pilsen
35ppg, 2°L
10 pounds
91%
Munich (Light)
33ppg, 8°L
12 ounces
7%
Melanoidin
36ppg, 28°L
4 ounces
2%
Hops
1 ounce
Hallertauer
5%, Pellet
1 ounce
100%
Batch sparge
90 minutes, 8.12 gallons
Strike
Hit target of 149-150°F
4.12 gallons
165°F
90 minutes
Sparge
  158°F
4.00 gallons
170°F
Boil (pre-boil OG was 1.040)
90 minutes, 7.5 gallons
Hallertauer hops
5%, Pellet
1 ounce
60 minutes (+30)
Irish moss 15 minutes (+75)
29oz. canned pumpkin baked 350°F for 15 min. (too long/hot, slightly burnt) with 1/4 c honey drizzled and 2 tsp pumpkin spice sprinkled over it prior to baking 15 minutes (+75)
3 tsp pumpkin spice 5 minutes (+85)
Ferment
  • 7 days @ 55°F (majority of activity during days 2-5 after pitch)
  • 3 days @ 68°F (diacetyl rest)
  • Kegged, no secondary, on day 10
  • Lagered at 35°F for 31 days

Tasting notes 10/5: after lagering for a month, this 1.050 OG helles still could use some age to smoothen it out, but it’s not horrible right now. It’s very clear. The yeast flocculated quite well. My big complaint is that I don’t think the pumpkin is coming through very much at all! Bummer… It’s usually very easy to over-spice a beer and ruin it for competition, as the flavors should be balanced and the base style should remain evident. I definitely don’t have that problem. I wonder, when I compete this one in BJCP category 21, will I get kudos for subtlety or get knocked for having the pumpkin too hidden?

Fermenting away!

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