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Picture of Homemade Pumpkin Beer
0 Glass_01.jpg

With the end of the year comes an abundance of fall produce such as squash and pumpkin. Grateful to have a large harvest of pumpkin this year from the Lyle Center, I decided to do something I’ve never done before: make a pumpkin ale.

Step 1: Gather the Ingredients and Equipment

Picture of Gather the Ingredients and Equipment

The recipe I used is Charlie Papazian’s Pumpkin Ale. Other recipes were pretty similar; however, this one is on the high side in terms of adjuncts (non barley base ingredients) which is a plus due of the large quantity of pumpkin I had available.

For those who have not homebrewed before, I would not recommend this recipe as it involves a significant amount of specialized equipment and familiarity with the process. Although the steps are fairly straightforward, the process is lengthy and certain mistakes can lead to an entire batch being ruined which can be quite costly. There are many malt extract (unfermented beer concentrate) recipes available which require minimum investment in equipment. However, for those who are looking for something more challenging, the procedure I follow here (all grain brewing) opens up a world of possibilities in terms of control over the process and ingredients.

Ingredients (The following are modifications I made or options I chose):

Grains – I used 2 row Great Western Malt instead of the recommended 6 row. There is less diastatic power in 2 row but the calculation found here shows that there is plenty of diastatic power even with adjuncts composing half of the main mash ingredients

10 lb pumpkins

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

Safale US-05 Ale Yeast I found at my local homebrew store


Baking Trays

Knife or Chopping Tool

10 lb scale

100g scale – or scale sensitive enough to measure ½ ounce

Grain Mill (optional – local homebrew stores usually have one available. Mine is a Monster Mill)

Brew Pot (10 gallon or larger)

Heat Source – straddling the brew pot over two burners on my cooking range is adequate for boiling the wort. Not all ranges produce enough heat so a propane burner or other heat source would be required.

Ladle/ Small Saucepan – for scooping grains and liquid from the brew pot to the lauter tun. I use a small saucepan because all my ladles are too small.

Lauter Tun (straining contraption I made by following the directions for the Zapap Lauter Tun)

Thermometer (I just use the one on the side of my Brew Pot)

Wort Chiller (bent copper tube that connects to a garden hose to chill the wort or unfermented beer)

Food Grade Vinyl Tubing – for transferring liquids from one container to another

Drilled Stopper/ Fermentation Lock – for connecting the blow off tube. A popular alternative is a fermentation lock. It is debatable whether it is necessary or not; I have left wort out to pick up wild yeast but the air turned out to be as sterile as a clean room. I have also let beers ferment with just a paper towel covering it without any problems with contamination but maybe it’s because I’m in Southern California.

Hydrometer – checks density of liquids. Used to determine alcohol content by calculating the difference.

Fermentation Vessel - mine is a PET carboy but any food safe bucket will do

Bleach & Containers for Sanitation – I dunk everything the unfermented and fermented beer comes in contact to prevent anything other than the intended yeast from fermenting the beer

Bucket – 5 gallon or larger, food grade

Bottles – new or cleaned used ones

Bottle Filler – mine has a spring which acts as a valve and only opens when pressed against a hard surface like the bottom of a bottle. It isn’t necessary as the spigot at the bottom of the bucket can be used to control the flow. Even the spigot isn’t necessary since a siphon can be started and the tube pinched when needed to stop the flow; however, I found the bottle filler handy in minimizing splashing of the beer which becomes sticky and hard to clean.

Bottle Capper – there are two designs: one with two handles that works like a cork opener and one that is a lever. I found the lever design to be more reliable than the other one.

Watertight Container – exploding bottles are no joke. Aside from the mess (I know from experience), it's also dangerous. I now bottle condition my bottles inside a watertight container to contain any explosions resulting from improper priming (adding a fermentable ingredient to the bottle) or contamination.

OlgaK387 months ago
Thank you! Very clear directions too
auto131428287 months ago
Too much plastic comes in contact with liquids. Use stainless and glass instead.
t.rohner7 months ago
Very nice instructable
This year, our (club of four) brewery turns 20. We once expreimented with a potato beer, but the lautering was so slow, that we dumped the mash. I can imagine, that with pumpkin, it could be the same. I tried a pumpkin ale at the times square brewery many years ago. To be honest, i didn't taste the pumpkin, but only the spices. We then brewed a christmas ale with similar spices with good success. (Our girls liked it more than we liked it.) With so many new hop varieties coming to market every year, we mostly stick to traditional ingredients. We brew a raspberry wheat every year, which is very nice. We also make some cider and whisky.
dwleo7 months ago
OMG! in the name of everything hoppy, WHY?
IoquirS7 months ago
May sound unbelievable, but a few minutes ago I was talking with a friend about trying, for the second time, to brew a pumpkin beer. My first trial was not good for a serie of reasons: I used a lot of pumpkin, up to 14 Kg (metric) for a 40 liters recipe. Because of this I've had a lot of work baking it, the resulting mass of chomped pumpkin and barley was really hard to lauther and, to finally kill the recipe, I used too much allspice and the resulting beer had allspice as the only, strong, domminating flavor. Not good!

It was nice to read your instructable, very well written and detailed. Thanks!
Made me feel encorauged to try again.
cesarakg7 months ago
Hi! Do you have the metric version of the quantities? Thanks in advance.
timothytdiy (author)  cesarakg7 months ago
Cesarakg - There are quite a lot of different steps that need to be converted since everything is in Imperial. I may get to it when I have time but I am sure there are many tutorials on homebrewing written natively in metric. Aside from the addition of pumpkin, the recipe is quite similar to a general homebrewed beer recipe.
schaapkameel7 months ago
Very cool! This will be the first project to embark on when I abandon the current ones!