November 29, 2012

Dunkelweizen + Pumpkin Pie Spices = My New Pumpkin Beer?

I wasn't very happy with my last attempt at making a pumpkin beer and although I had wanted to give it another try this year there were too many other beers I wanted to brew and usually fall means Oktoberfest and lots of commercial pumpkin beers so not a lot of homebrew gets drunk in our house this season, anyway. Well this year we didn't seem to find as many oktoberfests or pumpkin beers as we had hoped. One excellent pumpkin beer we found was a brand new beer by local brewer Lakewood Brewing Co. called Punkel, which is a Dunkelweizen with pumpkin spices. Punkel definitely lived up to our own hype; it's delicious. Although there's not a lot of weizen yeast character coming through it is probably more of an American-style dark wheat beer in the same way American wheat beers sometimes call themselves hefeweizens.

A few weeks ago I looked around at my current bottled homebrew and realized we're actually running short on beers my wife will drink and since I had meant to brew a dunkelweizen earlier in the fall I thought it would be fun to make a proper German dunkelweizen and add pumpkin spices. We also have important friends coming into town in three weeks -- the feller who made we want to try homebrewing and his wife -- and I'd like to have some good beers for them to try since it's been a couple years since they tasted our beer. Three weeks is really fast to push out a beer but a weizen can definitely ferment fast and as a low gravity beer it should be ready in the bottle in a couple weeks. I've never pushed out a beer that fast so we'll see how it goes.

The recipe below is my standard dunkelweizen recipe, which I really like. I keep thinking about adding a touch of chocolate malt to give it a slight roast edge but my wife thinks it's perfect so I keep it as is for her. The pumpkin spices were selected by looking at a lot of recipes and figuring out which ones were described to have the same characteristics I like in pumpkin beers. I prefer the more earthy spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, than the more fragrant spices, like ginger and allspice, that can make pumpkin beers taste a bit like potpourri. As usual, this is a one gallon recipe.

This will be my first attempt using my new two gallon cooler as a mash tun for my smaller batches. I am using a bag to hold the grains, rather than rebuild the spigot, so it will be more of a BIAB technique but I'm really hoping it will hold a consistent temperature better than using a pot on the stove, which was getting cool too fast.

Pumpkin Dunkelweizen

Batch size: 1 gallon
ABV: 5.55%
IBU: 17.4
SRM: 12.4
OG: 1.056
Est. FG: 1.013

Water Profile - Munich. Started with RO water and added:
2 grams chalk
0.5 grams calcium chloride
1.5 grams epsom salt

1lb Wheat Malt
0.5lb Munich Malt
0.25lb C60L
0.25lb Pale Malt

Mash Profile - Double Decoction
Infuse 0.63 gallons at 119F for 113F rest for 25 minutes
Decoct 1.10 qt and raise mash to 148F for 30 minutes
Decoct 0.49 qt and raise mash to 158F for 30 minutes
Sparge with 1.58 gallons at 178F

Boil time: 60 minutes
0.25oz Saaz [4%] at 60
1/2 tsp spice addition at knock out (see spice recipe below)

Ferment at 66F with WLP300 for one week, bottle condition at 4 volumes for 2 weeks.

Spice recipe:

1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp clove

Mix together and add appropriate amount to beer. I only needed a very small amount of this spice blend but I didn't have an easy way to mix it in a much smaller quantity. You can scale the recipe up if you need to make a larger blend. Having extra on hand not only means you're ready for another batch but it also means if the spices are too weak before bottling you can make a spice tea and add in the bottling bucket until you are happy. Alternatively you could use the store bought pumpkin pie blend but I find it tends to be a little to floral for my taste.


Fermented four days at 66F, raised to 69F for two days, let free rise last day. Bottled with 1.25oz corn sugar in weizen bottles. Added a few extra ounces of water to the priming sugar to make up for excessive trub. Obtained 7.5 16.4oz bottles. Will carbonate for two weeks at room temperature ~70F.

Spice blend tasted good at bottling. No potpourri flavors. Flavor begins with a clovey dunkelweizen flavor that is slightly muddled and then finishes out into a great pumpkin spice flavor. Aftertaste of spices remains with a slight tannin astringency on the tongue. Looking for the flavors to blend a little better after carbonation and expect carbonation will help scrub the remaining tannins off the tongue.


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