Nostalgia 101: Kurbis Alter & White Oak


So saturday was a bit of a bummer in terms of the football game, but on the other hand, a new “great beer” may have been created.  I feel that my recipe skills are getting better.  One thing that I need to work on is the actual calculations.  Sure I can add it into a program, but I need to get better at understanding the math in my head.  I’m going to work on that with the next recipe.  The current recipe is named “Kurbis Alter” which translates (roughly) to Pumpkin of Old in German.  The thought behind this beer is to incorporate and older style of ale into the popular pumpkin theme.  Most pumpkin ales seem to be heavy on pumpkin pie spice, weak in body, and have little or no actual pumpkin flavor.  This was the attempt at solving this issue.

I had Travis and Ryan over for the brew day.  The would be assisting me throughout  the process and would hopefully be learning at the same time.  It’s actually nice to be able to teach someone very basic fundamentals of brewing because it tests my ability to explain and understand what I’m talking about.  Teaching is the best way to refine ones skills.  I’m very honest about being a beginning homebrewer, but at the same time I’m throwing myself at full speed into the craft so I think I’m moving up the skill tree pretty fast.  Okay back to the brew!

Trav and Ryan came over at around 9:30 AM.  By then I had already baked the pumpkin and was ready to mash it. I decided to do some of the conversion by itself in its own pot to try and minimize the amount of starch clog in the mash tun.  It still clogged…darn.  After I mashed the grains, added the pumpkin sugar water, and a small portion of pumpkin barley mixture I noticed that the wort had a very pleasant and distinct pumpkin aroma.  The Homebrewing store “Nay-sayer” had told me that pumpkin doesn’t add anything to the beer.  I knew he was wrong and I proved this during the brew day.  Not only did the wort smell like pumpkin, but it also tasted faintly of pumpkin as well.  We boiled the wort and added british treacle…an adjunct that I don’t mind adding because it was to enhance the flavor adding character and complexity.   The spices were added to the last minutes of the boil (I added very little as I didn’t want to cover up the flavor of the final ale) followed by a 20 minute wort chill and whirlpool.

I noticed this during the boil, but it carried itself all the way through the whole process – the wort has a delightful orange color.  I think it derived a lot of it’s color from the pumpkin.  In fact, even after adding the jet black treacle, the wort still had an orange tint.  It’s pleasant, it looks like halloween, and it smells/tastes fantastic – once you get past that hops gag at the beginning.

The ale h

as been fermenting for a day and half now and it’s still giving off a pleasant pumpkin aroma with a dash of spice.  I can’t wait to try this beer.  The idea behind this beer was to create a real ale that used real pumpkin.  I think we succeeded.  The ale itself will have complexity and flavor, the spices will be subtle (I hope) so as not to cover up the actual flavor of the ale, and the pumpkin will add to the aroma/flavor & justify the name.  Awesome!

 Next on the list to talk about is The Bruery!  What an amazing place.  It’s simple and the tasting room is actually the same room as the brewery itself.  Their beers are some of the best I’ve ever tasted.  Katie fell in love with a lavender infused belgian white ale “White Orchard” and I was pummeled by an ale called White Oak.  White Oak is technically a Wheat Wine (like barley wine).  It’s a high gravity, high ABV ale actually that has been aged in both oak wine casks and oak bourbon casks.  The resulting flavor is intense and subtle at the same time.  This is not a gulping beer…it’s one you enjoy cold and fall in love with as it warms up.  There is so much going on it’s really hard to describe, but if you don’t like bourbon you may have a hard time with this one.

The Bruery staff where a little cold at the start (we though they were having a bad day), but they seemed to warm up to us after a while.  I will definitely be coming back.  It’s great to be so close to such and amazing craft beer hub.  It makes me excited to see Jeremy at Eagle Rock get his brewery up and going and it makes me even more excited to open up mine.  I can’t wait!

One more thing – and this is a big one.  My dad designed my beer label.  This is still up in the air, but it may be an offshoot or co-op that stems from the Brewery that John, Matt, and I open (eventually).  It’s great to see these dreams realized in graphical form.  Thanks Dad!

Here is a link to my dad’s design blog if you are interested.



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