Pumpkin Milk Stout By: Ben Bakelaar

Yes that’s right, it’s that time again... pumpkin stout time! The perfect complement to any fall endeavor. A taste of Thanksgiving without the family drama. A smooth, roasty, sweet massage on your tongue. Is it getting hot in here? I think it is, so take off all your cloves... OK, please forgive me for that last one. I just happen to love pumpkin, and there is no better beer style to go with it than a milk stout. So without further ado, I bring you last year’s article on the pumpkin stout. And make sure you order your partial mash or all-grain kit today! Leave a comment with which recipe you are brewing (kit or modified), and what the result is.

LAST YEAR’S RECIPE

Pumpkin Milk Stout - 5 gallon batch (All-Grain) or (Partial Mash)

Grains @ 158f for 60 minutes
9 lb Pale malt (2 row)
1 lb Black patent malt
1 lb Caramel/Crystal 40L malt
1 lb Flaked oats

Hops
1 oz Northern Brewer @ 60 min boil
1 oz East Kent Goldings @ 30 min boil

Other additions
1.5 tsp Allspice ground dry spice @ 15 min boil
1.5 tsp Nutmeg ground dry spice @ 15 min boil
1.5 tsp Cinnamon ground dry spice @ 15 min boil
1 lb Lactose @ 60 min boil

Original gravity: 1.068 SG
Mash volume: 15 quarts @ 173f

This recipe yielded a sweet, tasty dessert-style beer. Although the spices were overpowering at first, within 4 weeks they had mellowed to an appropriate level. It all depends on your taste of course - when I am brewing a spiced beer, it’s not for hints of flavors... I want to taste that spice!

Let’s compare this recipe to Randy Mosher’s “Fundamental Stout - Base Recipe” in Radical Brewing. I highly recommend the book - you can buy it here! (http://www.love2brew.com/Radical-Brewing-p/l2l009.htm)

9.5 lbs pale/mild malt
1 lb black patent malt
1 lb dark crystal malt

Hops
1.5 oz Fuggles @ 90 min boil
1.5 oz Fuggles @ 15 min boil

Original gravity: 1.060 SG

As you can see, fundamentally they are the same recipe. The base malt comprises 75%-80% of the grains. Black malt comprises another 8%-10%, and crystal malt comprises the final 8%-10%. In my recipe, I decided to go off the beaten path right from the beginning, so I added an additional pound of oats to give it a creamier, thicker mouthfeel, and an additional pound of lactose to sweeten it up so it would taste more like pumpkin pie. Finally, compared to my recipe, Mosher uses an additional 1 oz of hops, which I would say is normally a great idea when you are making a plain dry stout, but 2 oz will definitely do the trick if you are going for a thicker, sweeter stout.

Since the beer turned out so good, after drinking down (and giving out) that keg and getting feedback, I decided the main tweak would simply be to cut the spices down a bit. This is a common piece of advice to newer homebrewers, and one that I can attest to as solid advice. However, if you do go overboard with your spices, just give your beer a few extra weeks, you might be surprised how much it has mellowed in that time. I also figured I would bump the ABV slightly by adding an extra 0.5 lbs of base malt, so that it would meet the category guidelines for an “Imperial” stout. Finally, I split the 1 lb of Crystal 40 malt into 0.5 lbs of Crystal 60 and 0.5 lbs of Chocolate. There were some definite chocolate undertones to the first batch and I wanted to try to bring that out more.

However, on brew day, it turned out I had forgotten two of the special ingredients at home - my flaked oats and lactose. Never let some forgotten ingredients deter you from continuing your brew day though! Well, unless its base malt. But even then you can just brew a lower gravity beer. So anyway, I carried on, and my on-the-fly modified recipe now looked like this:

Grains @ 158f for 60 minutes
10 lb Pale malt (2 row)
1 lb Black patent malt
0.5 lb Caramel/Crystal 60L malt
0.5 lb Chocolate Malt

Hops
1 oz Northern Brewer @ 60 min boil
1 oz East Kent Goldings @ 30 min boil

Other additions
1 tsp Allspice ground dry spice @ 15 min boil
1 tsp Nutmeg ground dry spice @ 15 min boil
1 tsp Cinnamon ground dry spice @ 15 min boil

At this point I didn’t know what the original gravity target was, but it didn’t really matter. I knew my numbers and percentages were pretty good, I was just missing that “extra” from the oats and lactose. I also didn’t recalculate my water additions, I just eyeballed what looked like a pretty normal mash and went with the flow. This beer is happily carbonating in my keg, and in fact I’m having a pint of it right now. It still has a ton of flavor, and the spices are more present than the roast. The chocolate malt seems to have rounded out the roast as well, and the bump from 40L to 60L malt gives it a slightly more complex flavor. The ABV is, of course, lower, so I would estimate this is a ~5% beer while the first batch was ~6.5%. If anyone tells you that you need higher ABV for a tasty beer, tell them you know better. That perception is simply a result of mass-market beers which thrive off of lack of flavor.

So, what should I do for my third batch? The pumpkin oatmeal milk stout (batch 1) is awesome as a sweet dessert beer, but you probably wouldn’t have more than 1. The regular pumpkin stout (batch 2) is awesome as a quaffable weekend beer, and probably almost qualifies as a session beer. So you know what, why don’t we shoot for a “true” session beer. This article by BeerAdvocate back in 2005 sheds a little bit of light on a session beer. So to go “big” on this, I’m going to go all the way down to 3.5% ABV and try to get the tastiest beer that I can.

Grains @158f for 60 minutes
6 lbs Pale malt (2 row)
0.5 lb Black patent malt
0.25 lb Caramel/Crystal 80L malt
0.25 lb Chocolate Malt

Hops
1 oz Fuggles @ 60 min boil
1 oz Fuggles @ 30 min boil

Other additions
0.5 tsp Allspice ground dry spice @ 15 min boil
0.5 tsp Nutmeg ground dry spice @ 15 min boil
0.5 tsp Cinnamon ground dry spice @ 15 min boil

Original gravity: 1.035 SG
Mash volume: 9 quarts @ 173f

I’ve dropped the base malts way down to hit the lower gravity target. I’ve upped the Crystal malt from 60L to 80L to hopefully impart some more flavor. I’ve chosen a low-alpha hop (Fuggles) so that we don’t overpower the roast with hoppiness. I’ve also cut back the spices, anticipating that the drop in ABV will let the spices flavor come out more clearly. This one will get brewed sometime in January 2012, so stay tuned!