Tag: BeerSyndicate (Page 2 of 6)

The Homebrew Quiz

By D.J. PANDER

The Homebrew Quiz

Last time we tested your Beer IQ with THE BEER QUIZ.

This time, we’re challenging your homebrewing knowledge with The Homebrew Quiz.

Just like before, there are three levels to The Homebrew Quiz: Normal, Challenging, and Hard.

It’s recommended that you begin with the Normal Homebrew Quiz, and then proceed from there, however all three levels are provided below.

Good luck.

THE HOMEBREW QUIZ (NORMAL)

THE HOMEBREW QUIZ (CHALLENGING)

THE HOMEBREW QUIZ (HARD)

[Special thanks to Daniel J. Leonard for his collaboration and technical assistance on this project.]


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Hi, I’m D.J. Pander.  I like beer.  I also blog.

Deschutes Beer Clone Recipes

The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery
[Image courtesy of BeerSyndicate.com]

Having trouble sourcing a bottle of Deschutes’ The Abyss (rated a World-Class 100 points by BeerAdvocate)? Don’t feel like arranging an online beer trade?  Well, if you’re a homebrewer and know a thing or two about recipe formulation, Deschutes Brewery has been so kind as to point you in the right direction by revealing many of the key details of several of their tasty brews ranging from the hopped up wit beer, Chainbreaker White IPA, to yes, even the dark, immeasurably complex Imperial Stout, The Abyss.

But what fun would it be if they gave you every last detail of the recipe?  Deschutes is leaving it up to you to figure out temps, times, and weights.  And if your aim is to match The Abyss and you’re desperately in need of some liquid inspiration, as of November 13th, Deschutes has released their 2014 installment of The Abyss for distribution.  [Currently Deschutes distributes to about half of the states in the U.S. and British Columbia and Alberta, Canada.]

Oh, one hint on replicating The Abyss: The brewery has indicated that they add blackstrap molasses and Italian brewer’s licorice (presumable to the boil), then vanilla beans and cherry bark to the finish (secondary).  After which point, 28% of the brew is barrel-aged for 6 months in barrels: 6% bourbon barrels, 11% Oregon Oak, and 11% Pinot Noir, and then blended.  Of course this particular barreling aspect will be difficult to reproduce at the home level, which is where some creativity will be required.  Your final ABV should fall between 10-11%, and bitterness should come in at a whopping 86 IBUs to balance out the copious amount of malt.

Happy cloning!

[Click on image(s) below to enlarge.]

Deschutes Clone Recipes

Deschutes Clone Recipes

For Black Butte Porter clone tips, Deschutes’ flagship brew, try fermenting with Wyeast 1187 Ringwood Ale yeast, but make sure to allow a sufficient diacetyl rest unless you’re shooting for Black Butter Porter.  Ringwood yeast can be finicky and slow starting, so pitch a healthy starter (1 million cells per Plato), and plan on an attenuation of 68-72% with high flocculation (great for clarity).  Deschutes uses a proprietary house yeast for their Black Butte (and probably anywhere else where you read the words “English Yeast” on their recipes), but per the head brewer, Wyeast 1187 is your best bet.

If you really want to nail the particular biscuity English yeast profile, you can try your hand at reculturing  some yeast from a bottle or two of Black Butte (link: How to Harvest Yeast From a Beer Bottle). It’s not as difficult as some might think, not to mention, you’re saving on yeast money!  Here’s another idea: reculture some yeast from a bottle of Black Butte (using a bomber would probably be easier), but also buy a vial of Wyeast 1187.  Once your wort is chilled, split the batch into two fermentors, adding the Wyeast 1187 to one batch, and your recultured yeast to the other and see which one you think is closer once everything’s said and done.

Wheat was revealed to be the secret ingredient in Black Butte that aided in the brew’s head retention and creamy, silky mouthfeel, and should make up approximately 8-11% of the grain bill.  The recipe also calls for about 5-7% Chocolate Malt with roughly equal parts American (Briess) and English (Hugh Baird) Chocolate Malts.  The rest of the grain bill is made of domestic 2-Row Pale Malt, Carapils for body, and a fair amount (about 5%) of 75L Crystal Malt, but anything between 70-80L should work.  Starting gravity is between 1.055 and 1.058, and final gravity is 1.016 – 1.018, leaving you with an ABV of around 5.6%.  Per the head brewer, you’re looking at an SRM in the low 60s (60-61), however this seems a bit high.  25-30 SRM might be more like it.

Brew with somewhat hard water; if necessary add some gypsum to about 129 ppm to end up with basically a neutral pH of 7.1.  Mash-in at 130°F for 10 minutes, then raise to a conversion temperature of 156°F (plus or minus 2 degrees) for 60 minutes, and finally mash off at 168°F for 10 minutes to create some additional alpha amylase activity.  Your pH after mashing should be around 5.1-5.2, and then 4.4-4.6 after fermentation.

The prescribed 90 minute boil time is incorporated in order to produce a bit more caramelization and also to accentuate the chocolate malt.  As far hops go, Deschutes recommends staying away from citrusy hops.  In the past, Deschutes used to use either Galena or Nugget at boil for the bittering addition, but now appears to have switched to Bravo.  However, they’ve stuck with Cascade and Tettnanger for the flavor addition at 30 and 10 minutes before knockout, respectively.  IBUs should fall in the 28 – 32 range.  Ferment at a max of 65°F in order to reign in the fruity esters.

Here’s an attempt at an apparently spot on Black Butte clone first aired on The Jamil Show back in 2009 ( you may wish to make some adjustments to the following recipe based on the information above):

6 Gallon Batch (7.7 Gallon Preboil)
90 Minute Boil Time (70% Efficiency)
Preboil OG: 1.045
OG: 1.058
FG: 1.012
10.58 lb Pale Malt (2 row- Briess)
1.39 lb Wheat Malt
.7 lb Crystal 80
.42 lb American Chocolate Malt
.42 lb English Chocolate Malt
.42 lb 2-Row Carapils
.6 oz Galena (90 Minutes)
.25 Cascade (30 Minutes)
.25 Mt. Hood (5 Minutes)
Mash-In (130°F for 10 Minutes)
Sacc Rest (156°F for 60 Minutes)
Mash-Out (168°F for 10 Minutes)
Yeast: WLP 013
Fermentation Temperature (65°F )

Cheers!


Like this blog?  Well, thanks- you’re far too kind.  

Tweet-worthy?  That would be very kind of you

Want to read more beer inspired thoughts?  Come back any time, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter:

Or feel free to drop me a line at: dan@beersyndicate.com

Hi, I’m Dan: Beer Editor for Beer Syndicate, Beer and Drinking Blogger, Gold Medal-Winning Homebrewer, Beer Reviewer, AHA Member, Beer Judge, Shameless Beer Promoter, and Beer Traveler.  Interests? Beer.

Daniel J. Leonard

THE BEER QUIZ: What’s Your Beer IQ?

The Beer Quiz

We’ve all heard about Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences where he proposed that all people have a unique blend of eight different types of intelligence including visual, bodily, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical, and naturalistic.  Tests have been developed to help people determine which elements of intelligence are their strongest, and some schools have even based their curriculum around the concept.

However, Gardner’s work is not without controversy. The theory of multiple intelligences has been fiercely debated among psychologists, pedagogists, and academics who all agree that there is clearly something missing from Gardner’s list: beer intelligence.

To address this alarming oversight, Beer Syndicate has gathered together a think tank of scientists from the world’s top schools including Harvard, Oxford, and the University of Phoenix.

After the dust settled, a deceptively simple test emerged designed to assess an individual’s Beer IQ.

Simply called “The Beer Quiz, this test measures an individual’s beer knowledge through a series of questions of varying levels of difficulty: Normal, Challenging, and Hard.  At the end of the test, the individual’s score is tallied and a Beer IQ is calculated.

It’s recommended that you begin with the Normal Beer Quiz, and then proceed from there, however all three levels are provided below.

Good luck.

THE BEER QUIZ (NORMAL)

THE BEER QUIZ (CHALLENGING)

THE BEER QUIZ (HARD)

[Special thanks to Daniel J. Leonard for his collaboration and technical assistance on this project.]


Like this blog? Well, thanks- you’re far too kind.  Want to read more beer inspired works?  Come back any time, subscribe to our RSS feed or follow us on Twitter or share this link:


Hi, I’m D.J. Pander.  I like beer.  I also blog.

Dan Interviews Dan About Beer Blogs & Blogging in General

Dan:  Dan, you’re a self-proclaimed “beer blogger”.  In your opinion, what makes a good blog— beer or otherwise?

Dan: Thank you for asking that personally frustrating and almost certainly alienating question.  It reminds me of that quasi self-deprecating scene from Showtime’s Californication (a.k.a. Sex and the City for men), where David Duchovny’s character, Hank Moody, the drinking, womanizing, troubled novelist suffering from writer’s block, is being interviewed by a radio show host played by the great Henry Rollins when the topic of blogging pops up.

Seeing as how you are me, you probably remember it too.

Dan:  Yeah, that’s where I got the idea to interview you/us about blogging in the first place, but in the interest of not leaning on the fourth wall too much, refresh my memory. 

Radio Show Host: What’s your latest obsession?
Hank Moody: Just the fact that people seem to be getting dumber and dumber. You know, I mean we have all this amazing technology and yet computers have turned into basically four figure wank machines. The internet was supposed to set us free, democratize us, but all it’s really given us is Howard Dean’s aborted candidacy and 24 hour a day access to kiddie porn. People… they don’t write anymore, they blog. Instead of talking, they text, no punctuation, no grammar: LOL this and LMFAO that. You know, it just seems to me it’s just a bunch of stupid people pseudo-communicating with a bunch of other stupid people in a proto-language that resembles more what cavemen used to speak than the King’s English.
Radio Show Host: Yet you’re part of the problem, I mean you’re out there blogging with the best of them.
Hank Moody: Hence my self-loathing.

Dan:  So, are you saying that’s how you feel about blogging and the culture in general?

Dan: Maybe.  But to dodge that question in a subtly blatant way, I should tell you that when I first started, I really didn’t know what “blogging” was.

Dan:  What do you mean?

Dan: Well, I was doing this website thing called “BeerSyndicate” where, among other things, I was writing tutorials about homebrewing topics like how to beat the stuck fermentation monster or how to polish a keg.  I started getting burned out basically producing how-to manuals, and wanted to create a forum where I could talk about more op-edish, beer-related topics like why geeks are attracted to beer culture, or why we as Americans should have the right to legally drink in public in the U.S.  The next week I wanted to dig into beer history and gripe about how people get their facts mixed up about the once obscure beer style gose, or how beer styles are a completely made up hodgepodge.  The blog was sort of my catch-all category for anything that wasn’t strictly a tutorial, although I’d throw in a trendy how-to here and there like how to make a pumpkin keg for Halloween or Thanksgiving just to stay topical and bloggy.

About six months into “blogging”, someone told me that a blog was like a person’s online diary and you’re supposed to fill space with pictures of stuff.  I felt a little stupid because that’s not really what I was doing.  Then I was told that I write too much; which is not to say that my writing was filled with superfluous fluff or dime-a-dozen opinions, just that blogs are usually short—  like a paragraph or less. I kept getting reminded that the average person has an 8-second attention span, so nobody’s going to read more than a sentence if they’re actually reading anything at all.

Sorry LeVar Burton, but if a 15-second Instagram video is pushing the upper boundaries of our attention, what hope is there of finding gold at the end of the Reading Rainbow?

Dan:  If what you’re saying about short attention spans is true, it means most people stopped reading about halfway through your first sentence and won’t be around to see how you’re about to make like a billion enemies, correct?   

Dan: That’s the plan.

Dan:  So I take it you changed your blogging format to conform to the norm?

Dan: I tried.  I tried to compromise at least.  I thought maybe I could limit my posts to about a page, add some pictures, videos, interviews, interactive crap, maybe write up some top-ten style pieces.  I just couldn’t bring myself to schlock together some witty, two-sentence brain fart about something shiny that caught my eye in the beer universe, or self-righteously bestow some brilliant beer truth on par with what you’d find inside a fortune cookie just to pander to the lowest common denominator (LCD) or fit some pre-determined format of what a blog is “supposed” to be.

Dan:  You realize most people in entertainment make a career out of pandering to the LCDs, don’t you?

Dan: Yes.  But that’s not me.  And from my experience, most people in the craft beer and homebrew scene don’t fall into the LCD camp either.  Anne Frankly, I don’t really see that happening in the beer blogging world much either.  These are the people who you’d probably find lined up to hear Noam Chomsky speak long before you’d ever see them rocking out to the Dora the Explorer of rap, Pitbull.  “Don’t stop the party! No pare la fiesta!

Dan:  By the way, do you like how I set you up to pay a self-serving, contrived compliment to your supposed audience?  

Dan: By the way, do you like having me answer your questions so that I provide content for your so-called blog instead of you doing the hard work of coming up with original thoughts of your own?

Dan:  Point taken.  I noticed you kind of did a little space-filling/thought outsourcing yourself with that long quote you copied and pasted from Californication earlier. 

Dan: I was being ironical.

Dan:  Very clever.  Getting back to what makes a good beer blog.  Enlighten me.

Dan: Well, you have to have at least one of two things, but preferably both: new, interesting information about anything beer, and/or an interesting perspective.  That’s the secret formula to infotainment.

Also, two clichés come to mind: “content is king”, and “quality over quantity”.  As a blogger, you have to ask yourself what type of content you want to create: original content or meta-content (commentary about original content).  This is often the difference between someone who’s a writer and someone who’s a critic, although sometimes you’re both.  That said, if you’re not personally adding something meaningful and moving the beer conversation forward at least a little bit, you should stick to tweets, facebook, or Untappd posts.  Even Jack Dorsey, co-creator of Twitter, explained tweets as “a short burst of inconsequential information.” As a writer, you’re supposed to be doing something more than conveying inconsequential information.  You’re supposed to challenge the status quo, present original content, and inspire people to be critical.

Or not.  Maybe you stop fighting the losing battle and go the other route, sell out, and live by the law of “tl;dnr” (too long; did not read) and D.I.D. (Dumb It Down).  Contributing to the delinquency of minors is small-time.  Contributing to the delinquency of everyone… Now we’re talking!  Forget microblogs.  Even nanoblogging is pushing the attention span envelope.  Consider limiting your posts to either one word, an abbreviation, or simply an emoticon.  But remember, video is the new preferred medium, so start making video clips (the shorter the better), dump blogging, and become a vlogger.  Learn some basic editing in Windows Movie Maker if you’re a PC, or start with iMovie on Mac, then work your way up to FCPX (Final Cut Pro X).  Don’t be scurred, all of this editing software is relatively idiot-proof.  While you’re at it, don’t forget to vote “YES” on Prop 22 so that we can finally replace all English teachers with digital arts instructors!

Cast the widest net possible and pander, pander, pander to the LCDs.  Still not happy with your Google Analytics stats?  You’re clearly not lowbrow enough.  But you don’t have to take my word for it. Remember what Jay Z said in his “Moment of Clarity”, and I quote, “I dumb down for my audience, and double my dollars”.  Case in point: not only is Mr. Z saying this in a song directly to his fans (implying that they’re dumb), but the album where he said it, The Black Album, was his top selling recording of the 2000s!  Even the statistics point to Hova’s success at dumbing it down and pandering to those wading in the shallow end of the intelligence pool, at least according to the Musicthatmakesyoudumb infographic.

"Music That Makes You Dumb" Inforgraphic

The “Musicthatmakesyoudumb” infographic plots people’s favorite musicians with respect to their SAT scores.

But hey, the guy has sit-downs with Warren Buffett and a net worth of $550 million, so there’s obviously something to it. Jay Z may be dumbing it down with the best of them, but he’s clearly no dummy when it comes to business.  And you have to admit, it takes some balls to risk alienating your audience by telling them the truth about what you’re doing and why.

Contrast this with the “business/marketing blog”.  While some are straight forward about using the idea of a blog as a vehicle for promoting their own products for commercial gain, others try to pretend something more benign is going on, but are often little more than an advertisement in blog’s clothing (fake blogs).  Simply put, it’s exceptionally difficult to be impartial in your message if your ultimate objective is to maximize profit, but it can be done if you’re willing to take some risks.

Dan:  Speaking of the way you answered that last question, some people have called you, and excuse my language, an “asshole”.  What do you make of that?

Dan: I’m flattered.  Some of the best writers have been described as a-holes, not that I count myself in either category, but these are the writers making interesting points, waking people up from their dogmatic slumbers, and sometimes throwing in some humor as a further sign of intelligence.  There’s a fine line between striking a cord and a nerve.  Great writers do both.

When it comes to humor, including satire, it’s supposed to be provocative, shake you up, and make you think.  Humor often acts as a mirror, one that many of us would prefer not to gaze into too deeply.  For example, most of us laugh when a comedian is making fun of someone who we think is being dumb.  We’re all in on the joke.  I picture Nelson from The Simpsons pointing and laughing his patented “Haw Haw”. However, when a comedian makes a joke about something that hits too close to home and challenges someone’s personal beliefs, some people take offense instead of taking a step back and self-evaluating.  That being the case, I probably wouldn’t have survived very long in Nazi Germany for at least a couple reasons.

Not to mix suggestive allusions, but who would want to bear the cross of being a writer with standards nowadays?

Dan:  If you think Twitter and Facebook is for lower quality content, why do you post your material on it? 

Dan: Don’t hate the playa; hate the game. Look, I’m not saying you can’t find quality content on Facebook and the like, but that’s not really what those sites are designed for.  Facebook is for making other people feel bad by pretending your life is better than what it really is, posting selfies, stalking, giving your personal information away for free, and inflating your ego with myriads of pseudo-friends who glad-hand every one of your self-indulgent look-at-me/look-at-my-kids posts in the hopes of reciprocation, all while Facebook turns a quick buck from advertising off of your user-generated content, which they, ehem, technically own.

Dan:  I take it you don’t have many friends on Facebook?

Dan: Correct.

Dan:  What do you think about reddit?

Dan: I like it as a social media site to share and interact with a community of sorts.  There’s more of an element of anonymity, which can be good and bad.  I compare it to leaving the Shire of Facebook and venturing off into the rest of Middle Earth where you’re bound to run into a variety of characters, including the occasional troll.

The truth is, I kid.  Facebook & company are also about sharing quality content and getting the word out. I said I wouldn’t join the social media scene until I had something worthy to shamelessly promote.  I do.  Beer.

Dan:  And promoting yourself while you’re at it, right?

Dan: I am but a mere vessel, my friend.

Dan:  A vessel that’s usually filled with beer?

Dan: Also correct.

Dan:  So far, you’ve potentially insulted 1.23 billion facebookers, 232 million tweeters, 248 million bloggers, 500,000+ Untappd users, sufferers of ADHD, Jay-Z and Pitbull fans, and Nazis.  Anyone else you care to take a cheap potshot at in hopes of further alienating yourself?

Dan: Don’t get me started on baby seals and so-called “poor orphans”.

Dan:  I’m confused.  Are you saying you’re a blogger or not?

Dan: While I call myself a beer and drinking blogger, that’s almost certainly a misnomer, and I’ve probably shot myself in the literary foot by misappropriating the term.  Rightfully so, blogging often has this “highly disposable”, basically “cheap” connotation associated with it.  I’m sorry, but if you’re blogging multiple times a day or week with little to no time to revise and edit, can you really be saying anything that profound?  Probably not.  A lot of serial bloggers get disillusioned when they realize this.

For an increasingly voyeuristic society, I can understand the allure of reading someone’s online diary, if that’s what blogging is supposed to be.  Let’s face it though, most people’s average day-to-day simply isn’t that interesting.  But that’s not really what I do.  I write blarticles.  This “interview” is as close to introspective self-analysis for public spectacle as I get.

Dan:  This might be a sort of douchey question, but are you interviewing yourself to make yourself seem important? Couldn’t find anyone better to interview you?

Dan: Those were technically two douchey questions.  Not to mention, this was your idea in the first place.  But if you think about it, the idea of writing an “online diary” is a bit disingenuous, or at best a contradiction in terms.  Besides, writing a diary is for twelve-year-old girls to sulk about how their parents were mean to them, or what boy they have a crush on, which can all then later be parlayed into a pants-dropping, 15 minutes of shame at a Mortified event.  Now journaling, that’s for adults.

But I think your questions are missing the point: this whole manufactured, phoney baloney interview is just a meta-tastic satire of blogging in the form of a blog in an attempt to break on through the fifth wall.

Dan:  Touché.  So what do you do when you run out of interesting beer stuff to write about?

Dan: Interviews.


L’chaim!


Like my career-ending blarticle? Well, thanks- you’re far too kind.  

Care to Tweet it around to ensure my downfall?  

Want to read more beer inspired thoughts?  Come back any time, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter:

Or feel free to send your hate mail to: dan@beersyndicate.com

Hi, I’m Dan: Beer Editor for Beer Syndicate, Beer and Drinking Blogger, Gold Medal-Winning Homebrewer, Beer Reviewer, AHA Member, Beer Judge, Shameless Beer Promoter, and Beer Traveler.  Interests? Beer.

Daniel J. Leonard

How to Make a Pumpkin Keg

Pumpkin Keg

Love it or hate it, with Halloween and Thanksgiving quickly approaching, ’tis the season for pumpkin beer— and business is booming.  No longer is it just the so-called extreme-for-the-sake-of-being-extreme craft breweries busy in the brew house smashing pumpkins.  Behemoth breweries like MillerCoors (Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale), Anheuser-Busch (Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat), and Samuel Adams have all kicked around the pumpkin patch to produce their own seasonal salutes to the great pumpkin.  In total, there are roughly 800 different commercial examples of pumpkin beer on the market to choose from today.  Perhaps this is part of the reason why the GABF has officially canonized “Pumpkin Beer” as a beer style all to its own; a distinction shared with no other berry on the beer style roster (yep- pumpkin is a type of berry).

The bottom line is that if you’re still on the fence about pumpkin beer, there’s no better time to head to your local purveyor of craft beer, and put together a sampler pumpkin pack.  You may discover your newest favorite pumpkin beer yet.

Pumpkin Beers

And chances are you’re either going to be invited to (or hosting) a Halloween/Thanksgiving-type event this year, or sometime in your bright and sunny future.  Sure, you could always cleverly share a 6-pack of your new-found fav pumpkin brew, but that’s only a little clever.  To really steal the show, present your pumpkin beer in style: with a Pumpkin Keg.

Not only is a Pumpkin Keg a party hit, it’s also easy to put together.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. (spoiler alert…) A pumpkin
  2. Pumpkin Beer (I make a few recommendations below)
  3. A box of wine (3-5 liters)… the kind with the pull-out plastic tap.

Here’s what you do:

1.  Cut open the top of your pumpkin and scrape out all its pumpkiny guts just like you would when carving a pumpkin. Keep the top of the pumpkin to use as a lid later.

2.  Using the plastic tap on your Box-O-Wine, transfer all of the wine out of its box.

3. Open the box of wine and remove the plastic bag from inside the box.

Box of Wine

4. Cut out a hole near the base of your pumpkin that will snuggly accommodate the plastic tap. You may want to disassemble the plastic tap first (see step 6) to better determine the size of the hole you will cut.  

5.  Ensure that the plastic bag and tap fit well with the pumpkin by placing the wine bag inside the pumpkin and sliding the plastic tap through the hole you’ve cut. You may decide it’s easier to disassemble the plastic tap from the wine bag, place the wine bag inside the pumpkin, and then attach the tap from the outside. Adjust the hole in the pumpkin if necessary. 

6.  Remove the plastic bag and tap from the pumpkin and separate the plastic tap assembly from the plastic bag. This can take a couple minutes depending on the wine bag— some are easier to disassemble than others. If you get a tricky one, you can use the backside of a butter knife to wedge apart the circular plastic fitting surrounding the tap from the circular fitting on the plastic bag. [See picture below]  The small plastic tap is pretty sturdy, but still, try not to twist or break it off of in the process.

Removing the Tap from a Wine Bag

7.  Rinse out the plastic bag with water.

Dissembled Wine Bag

8.  Gently fill the plastic wine bag with your pumpkin beer of choice.  You can always use a plastic funnel to better guide the beer into the plastic bag, but either way, try to keep the beer as carbonated as possible by not splashing too much.

9. Carefully place the plastic bag into the pumpkin and push the plastic tap through the hole in the pumpkin.  At this point, you may want to pull the plastic tap through the pumpkin hole from the outside of the pumpkin to adjust it, but BE CAREFUL! If you pull the tap forward with too much force, you may end up pulling it right off the wine bag and spilling beer all the floor instead of in your tummy, where beer belongs.

10.  Place your carved pumpkin lid on the top of the pumpkin, and your Pumpkin Keg is ready for action.

*Optional: It’s up to you if you want to further pimp-out/decorate your Pumpkin Keg; just remember if you’re carving, it’s probably best to do that before you place a filled bag of beer inside the pumpkin.

Also keep in mind that there’re 33.814 ounces in a liter, and 12 ounces in a standard beer bottle, so if you’re filling a 3 liter bag, you’ll need about 8 bottles, or 14 bottles for a 5 liter bag.  Can’t find a use for 5 liters of cheap wine?  How about polishing off a few nice bottles yourself, refilling the bottles with box wine, and then serving them to your wine snob friends.  Don’t feel bad, they deserve it.

If you want to serve more than just the 3-5 liters that a standard wine bag will accommodate, you can either collect and pre-fill other wine bags with pumpkin beer, or simply refill your existing pumpkin keg when it’s empty. In a pinch, you can just cut a hole in the top of the wine bag and pour your pumpkin beer in through the top, but this obviously isn’t as secure as the method described above.

Speaking from experience, I recommend doing a quick practice run with your Pumpkin Keg by filling the plastic bag first with water and then assembling it.  That way if you make a mistake and spill somewhere in the process, you’ve only lost some water instead of precious beer.

If you wanted to forego purchasing the Box-O-Wine and removing the related plastic wine bag and tap for some reason, you could try cleaning out the inside of the pumpkin as described above, then take your chances wrapping the inside with plastic wrap, or melting wax and coating the inside of the pumpkin, and lastly buying and fitting the pumpkin with a plastic bottling bucket spigot from your local/online homebrew store.  Good luck.  

The idea with using a wine bag is to preserve the original flavor of the beer you’re adding by not having it come into contact with raw pumpkin flesh and also to prevent leaks.  If you’re just using a tap or spigot and you cut the hole in the pumpkin too big, you either have to figure out a way to plug the excess clearance or buy a new pumpkin.  No thanks.

The Raw Dog Pumpkin Keg (Not Recommended)

Some people might opt not to use the wine bag method or cover the inside of the pumpkin (with wax or plastic wrap), but instead pour the pumpkin beer directly into the hallowed out pumpkin after firing/flaming the inside of the pumpkin to create additional roasty flavors.  Again, the problem there is not only is it extra work, it will almost certainly change the appearance and flavor profile of the pumpkin beer, perhaps not to everyone’s liking. (Most people probably wouldn’t care much for those little pieces of ash and other floaties that make their way into the beer either.)

But even if you don’t flame the inside of the pumpkin and simply want to add pumpkin beer to the raw flesh inside of a hallowed out pumpkin for some other reason (maybe to save time or to add some additional possible squash character to the beer), there are other problems.  

For example, you can’t simply add ice to your pumpkin keg to keep it cool without worry of diluting your beer.  However, if you use the wine bag approach, you could dump ice directly over the wine bag or put the ice in zip-lock bags, and place them around the wine bag to keep the beer cool.

Oh yeah, and there’s one other problem with adding beer directly into a hallowed out pumpkin…

Nucleation Aggravation

The other issue with allowing any carbonated beverage to come into contact with raw or roasted pumpkin flesh is that your beer will quickly become flat due to exposure to what is called “nucleation sites”.  A nucleation site is anything on a surface that causes the physical separation of liquid, solid, and gas, or for our purposes, the CO2 separating from the beer resulting in flat beer.  For a real world example of the effect of nucleation sites, let’s imagine that you’ve been served a beer in a dirty glass that has grime stuck to the inside of the glass.  A speck of grime stuck to the inside of a glass is a nucleation site, and you can tell because you’ll see a stream of bubbles jetting away from it because that grime is separating the CO2 from the liquid in your beer (bar tending no-no).  Because the inside of a pumpkin is one giant nucleation site, if you pour your beer directly into it, the beer will foam, which is your visual clue that the CO2 is separating from your beer.  Bad idea.

Selecting a Pumpkin Beer

There is a vast diversity of different flavors within the pumpkin beer market, and because people have different personal tastes, my advice is always to try a few pumpkin beers out for yourself to see what you like. 

That said, the majority of pumpkin beers on the commercial landscape today fall into two categories: (1) pumpkin beers that try to mimic pumpkin pie (including the spices), and (2) pumpkin beers that don’t.

If you’re looking for pumpkin-pie-in-a-bottle, I like KBC Pumpkin Ale from Trader Joe’s.  It’s cost-effective at $5.99 a six-pack, but it’s also a bit sweet, bordering on Pumpkin Soda.

The other difficulty with recommending a beer has to do with availability.  In other words, because the distribution of beer is very regionalized, what you might find in one state, you might not be available in another.  With that in mind, here’s our 2015 review of of 40 pumpkin beers, many of which you can find in the western U.S. (west coast), and another 2015 review of pumpkin beers from Paste magazine you might find in the South.  It’s important to read the descriptions of the beers and not just the rank to see what flavor profiles speak to you.

Now, if you’re a homebrewer with a killer pumpkin beer recipe, rack that bad boy into a Pumpkin Keg, and we’re talking the ultimate pumpkin trifecta.

By the way, find a good watermelon beer in the summer, and the Pumpkin Keg concept easily translates into a Watermelon Keg.  I also have ideas for making a Turkey Keg— just waiting on Dogfish Head to create an off-centered Turkey Beer.  Only question would be which end to put the tap

Now that you know how to rock the Pumpkin Keg, go forth and be the king/queen of Halloween and/or Thanksgiving.  I’ll be here self-loathing, wondering how I turned into the Martha Stewart of beer.

I just keep telling myself “It’s a good thing…”

Cheers!


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Hi, I’m Dan: Beer Editor for Beer Syndicate, Beer and Drinking Blogger, Gold Medal-Winning Homebrewer, Beer Reviewer, AHA Member, Beer Judge, Shameless Beer Promoter, and Beer Traveler.  Interests? Beer.

Daniel J. Leonard

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