Well, it's that time of year again. Bright and early at 6am every morning, my alarm goes off, and when I open my eyes, it's still dark out. Blerg. For the first few minutes, it's depressing as hell. Then, I realize that the cold weather is coming and with it, delicious Fall dishes and drinks, chock full of warming spices, maple syrup, and, of course, pumpkin. It's a great reminder to check my fermenters because its time to bottle Gentleman Jack O'Lantern, my whiskey barrel-aged Pumpkin Ale that, by now, has been aging for several months.
This beer is far and away the most laborious of any of my brews, but its easily one of my favorites and has received much praise from peers and professionals alike. I often jokingly describe it as "a Pumpkin Ale for people who hate Pumpkin Ales, while still being a Pumpkin Ale." Unlike some other anti-Pumpkin Ales, like Sixpoint Autumnation, which is more of an IPA, Gentleman Jack O'Lantern is very much a traditional Pumpkin Ale in terms of its flavor profile. However, it is much bigger than your average Fall seasonal and fermented atypically dry, which is only emphasized by the sharp finish of the oak and whiskey. The end result is a smooth, slow-sipping beer that's a perfect nightcap for those cool Autumn evenings.
The recipe for this beer changes annually as I continue to tweak it to perfection. However, it's so time consuming to make that I don't want to post a recipe before it's really been enjoyed and I've received professional feedback on it, so I'm actually posting last year's rendition. This version came out substantially better than the first, linked above, due to the few tweaks. The largest improvements came from the removal of 6-row American malt for superior Maris Otter Malt, which added a richer toasted character to the beer, and the decision to dump the oak soaking liquid, rather than adding it to the beer, which removed many of the harsh tannins that detracted from GJ 1.0.
To give you an idea of the quality of this concoction, I entered it into the American Homebrewer's Association's National Homebrew Competition. As luck would have it, the one bottle I submitted happened to be overcarbonated and exploded all over the judges. It was also entered incorrectly as I forgot to denote the "base style" (I entered it into category 22C, "Wood Aged Beer"). However, despite the marks off for these issues, it still scored an impressive 38 and received a silver certificate, with one judge saying, "I hate spiced beers, but this was wonderful and really works for me. There are so many subtle things going on."
Anyway, without further adieu, I give you, Gentleman Jack O'Lantern 2.0.
Gentleman Jack O'Lantern 2.0
Soak 3 oz of Medium Toast American Oak Cubes in Gentleman Jack.
Roast 2 lbs of canned or fresh pumpkin for 60 minutes at 350 degrees.
5 lbs of Maris Otter Malt
3 lbs of Vienna Malt
2 lbs of Munich Malt
2 lbs of Roasted Pumpkin
1 lbs of CaraFoam Malt
1 lbs of Belgian Biscuit Malt
1 oz of Sterling Hops (60 minutes)
1 tsp of Irish Moss (20 minutes)
1 oz of Hallertau Hops (10 minutes)
1/2 tsp of Wyeast Yeast Nutrient (10 minutes)
1-3/4 lbs of Organic Grade B Maple Syrup (10 minutes)
3/4 tsp of Cocoa Powder (End of Boil)
3/4 tsp of Cinnamon (End of Boil)
1/2 tsp of Nutmeg (End of Boil)
1/2 tsp of Allspice (End of Boil)
1/4 tsp of Clove (End of Boil)
1/4 tsp of Coriander (End of Boil)
Wyeast 1056 American Ale Yeast
Pasteur Champagne Yeast
3 oz of Medium Toast American Oak w/ Gentleman Jack (3-4 months)
1. Start your brew day by roasting the pumpkin. When finished, it should have nice golden-brown caramelization to it.
2. Once the pumpkin is in the oven, lay the toasted oak chips out in a dish with a sealable top. Tupperware works great. Pour the Gentleman Jack over them until they're completely covered. It'll probably be about 6-7 ounces overall. Cover the dish and set it aside at room temperature. This step not only sanitizes the wood chips with alcohol, but allows the whiskey to soak into the wood, which will later infuse into the beer.
3. Mash the grain, pumpkin and additives at 152 degrees for 60 minutes.
4. Sparge at 175 degrees.
5. Boil the wort for 60 minutes, following the above schedule.
6. Cool rapidly and transfer to carboy, leaving sediment behind.
7. Pitch yeast, rock carboy to aerate, and close the airlock. This is a big beer, so it will either require a yeast started or an additional yeast pack for efficient fermentation. You want it to ferment dry, so if the yeast looks like it's slowing up, shake the carboy up and get them back into suspension.
8. When final gravity is achieved, transfer to secondary fermenter, then remove oak chips from soaking liquid and add to beer.
9. Age for 3-4 months.
10. Clarify and bottle with a teaspoon or so of rehydrated champagne yeast.
Original Gravity: 1.075
Final Gravity: 1.015
ABV: 8.0% (before whiskey)
SRM: 16.0 (Copper)