Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Followup: It's the great pumpkin beer mess, Charlie Brown (Part 1)

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After I went on and on the other day about how much I love pumpkin-flavored beer and can't get my favorite around here anymore, I received a few comments on Twitter about how I should just make my own. Not that I should brew my own -- just take a beer and add pumpkin pie spice.

"That's what goes on at the brewery," someone told me.

I was disappointed. Thought it was more romantic than that. I'd thought maybe it involved carving slices of pumpkin pie -- crust, Cool Whip and all -- into the beer vats, or maybe coaxing pumpkins to cross-breed with hops. But apparently no.

So I bought some pumpkin pie spice and took some Harp lager from the fridge, and I brought them into the laboratory (kitchen) of my Institute for Bizarre And Revolting Foods, or IBARF. I poured a little pint glass of Harp and then guessed how much pumpkin pie spice I should stir into it. I settled on a heaping teaspoon. Seemed sensible at the time.

The beer's immediate reaction was something like a middle-school science fair volcano, foaming up and over the top of the glass -- so, helpful tip to any middle-school kids out there. The foam caught gobs of the spice and carried it instead of letting it settle in the beer, and the action of stirring just made more foam. I wondered how I was supposed to break up the spice into the beer if stirring only made the beer go away. After a few more seconds of stirring I ended up with half a glass of muddy beer with an orange- and brown-flecked head pushing over the top like a dirty meringue.

Then I drank some.

My first sip was a mouthful of foam and a clump of dry pumpkin pie spice. It was unpleasant.

My second sip, I tried to go for the beer at the bottom of the glass, but ended up with more foam that tasted very beery and a lot like cinnamon. Also unpleasant. It smelled like a strange mixture of sweetness and beer mash, sort of like an alcoholic uncle threw up somewhere in the house after Thanksgiving but you're not sure where.

The third sip, I did get to some beer, but there were bits of pumpkin pie spice held in suspension in there, so that wasn't a great experience. It did taste pumpkinny, but tasted a lot more like failure and broken dreams. I dumped the rest down the drain and spent the next half hour before I went to bed wondering if it wasn't easier just to have a beer and a slice of pie.

I still have lots of pumpkin pie spice left, so I'm thinking about trying this again with an ale instead of a lager, though I'm not sure if that will only make the foaming chemical reaction worse. We'll have to see. I'm not done with this yet.


Lybbe said...

Terrible waste of a bottle of Harp.

clip said...

Maybe take a cue from some hot chocolate recipes, combining a small amount of hot water or milk with the powder to first make a paste, then adding more water or milk. I would try this and report, but you're the one with the IBARF.

Eric said...

You may try some syrups like they use for coffee. I have a bottle of Monin Pumpkin Spice syrup I use to make my own latte's at home. I might give it a try for you. I have some fat tire that I could add it to. I will report back with my findings.

Eric said...

Ok, Im reporting back from my field trial. Here are the results.

Sample Size: 1oz Fat Tire Amber Ale an 1/4 pump of Monin Pumpkin Spice Syrup.

Flavor was actually quite nice. The drawback is the syrup is sweet and sweet beer is not my thing. If you can find a liquid pumpkin spice with out the sugar, I think you will be good to go.

Dan said...

Wow--thanks, everyone, and thanks Eric for drinking a beer on my behalf. I found the syrup you mentioned:


I may just see if I can find a bottle of it (or order online). Yes, I am that determined. Cheers!

Eric said...


Even if the syrup doesnt work for you beer, It is great to make your own Pumpkin Spice Latte. Worth the price. FYI they MONIN shipping is a little high mostly due to the heavy glass bottle.

Good Luck

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