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Adventures in Homebrewing Shades of Gourd Kit

Today I brewed the "Shades of Gourd" pumpkin spice ale kit from Adventures in Homebrewing. They describe the beer as a light and elegant pumpkin ale.

The kit arrives with all the grain in a plastic bag. The hops and spices are in other bags, combined with priming sugar and/or yeast depending on how you order the kit.

The Recipe

The kit contains the following:

  • 7 pounds of 2-row Pale Malt
  • 1 pound of Honey Malt
  • 12 ounces of Crystal 60L Malt
  • 12 ounces of Crystal 10L Malt
  • 8 ounces of Carafoam Malt
  • 1 ounce of Tettnang hops pellets (marked as 2% AA in my kit)
  • 20 grams of Pumpkin Pie Spice
I added the following:
  • 1 packet of Safale US-05 yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Super Irish Moss, rehydrated in water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
  • Campden tablet added to mash and sparge water to remove chlorine and chloramine
The yeast matches with the Adventures in Homebrewing options, but I already had it on hand. The other two items were designed to clarify the beer and ensure yeast health during fermentation.

Despite being called "Shades of Gourd" the recipe sheet doesn't call for any pumpkin or squash. I didn't add any, either.

The recipe calls for a 152F mash, and a 168F mash-out. There is a single hops addition at 60 minutes and a spice addition at 5 minutes. 

BeerSmith estimates the following qualities for the brew:
  • Original Gravity: 12.64 Plato
  • Bitterness (IBUs): 6.2 (the AIH instructions say 19 IBUs)
  • Color: 9.6 SRM
  • Estimated ABV: 5.4% (the AIH instructions estimate 5.1%)
  • Estimated Final Gravity: 2.51 Plato
After building my usual brew day sheet, I got to work crushing the grain.

The Mash

I added 4.25 gallons of water to The Grainfather along with a Campden Tablet and began heating it to the mash temperature of 152F. Another 3.25 gallons were added to my sparge water kettle for later use, along with some Campden Tablet.

Grain was crushed using my Cereal Killer grain mill, then scooped into the kettle a few scoops at a time and stirred to ensure it all got wet.

The grain was mashed at 152F for 60 minutes, then raised to 168F for 10 minutes. While all this was going on, the sparge water was heated to 170F and removed from the heat.

The grain basket was lifted out and locked into position. When the dripping began to slow down, sparge water was gravity transferred into the grain basket to sparge it. Meanwhile, the kettle began heating the wort to mash temperature.

Pre-boil volume reached 6.4 gallons, a little shy of the 6.6 I expected, so a quart was added to hit the target volume. The wort was stirred well. A refractometer measurement of 11.2 Brix was a bit below the 12.4 I expected to see, but I continued anyway, knowing I could boil off water if need be.

The Boil

Recently, I've begun trying to improve the clarity of my finished beers. I've read that boiling the wort for 30 minutes without any hops pellets can help to improve clarity, so I've switched to 90-minute boils to see if this seems to make a difference.

Following was my boil schedule for this brew:
  • 90 minutes: Boil wort only, no hops or other ingredients
  • 60 minutes: Add the hops pellets in a muslin bag
  • 15 minutes: Add yeast nutrient
  • 10 minutes: Add rehydrated Super Irish Moss and whirlpool for a few minutes
  • 7 minutes: Recirculate wort through the counter flow chiller to sterilize it
  • 5 minutes: Add the spice mix
  • 0 minutes: Run cold water through the counter flow chiller to cool it, then begin pumping wort through it into the fermenter
The boil went smoothly, resulting in a final volume of 5.6 gallons.

The beer was pumped into the fermenter, chilled to 79F. Final volume appeared to be 5 gallons.

The fermenter was moved to my fermentation chamber and a cooling jacket wrapped around it. The temperature controller was set to keep the wort at 68F throughout fermentation. It quickly began cooling the wort as soon as it was activated. The dry yeast was pitched on top of the wort before the fermenter was fitted with the jacket.

The refractometer estimated the beer's original gravity at 13.1 Brix, a bit higher than the 12.6 Brix that BeerSmith estimated. BeerSmith says my efficiency for the batch was 83.1%.

The Fermentation

The plan is for the beer to ferment for two weeks at 68F. It will then be disconnected from the cooling system and moved into my mini-fridge, where it will be cold-crashed to 40F and held there for up to a week. As with the Super Irish Moss, this cold crashing is hoped to improve the beer's clarity. Biofine finings may also be added.  

The night before bottling, it'll be removed from the fridge and allowed to warm up.

Post-Mortem

All things considered, this beer pretty close to plan. I'd calculated that I would have 6.4 gallons of wort before the boil, at 12.4 Brix. I actually had 6.4 gallons at 11.2 Brix. It's possible the wort just wasn't stirred well enough at that point, given the finished gravity and volume.

After the boil, I expected 6 gallons at 12.6 Brix but wound up with 5.6 gallons in the kettle at 13.1 Brix and just over 5 gallons into the fermenter (with about a half-gallon left in The Grainfather's kettle).


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