Over the past two years I’ve tried a number of pumpkin ales and by far my personal favorite is Southern Tier’s Pumpking. Southern Tier’s brew has an 8.3% ABV, which is pretty high. As an all-grain homebrewer that means you’re looking at a grain bill (the amount of grain in the beer) of over 15lbs. I have been planning for months on doing a clone (copy) of this beer and found one on a Homebrew Talk Forum (here).
A user by the name of gwdlaw posted a cloned recipe (here) and appears to have some success mimicking the rich taste of the Southern Tier Recipe. Many users commented on how good his/her recipe turned out, so I decide to give it a shot. The recipe called for a number of typical grains as well as specialty items like demerara sugar (sugar in the raw), pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon sticks and other items that are not typically in a household. So I had to go out and buy them.
At the same time I have been reading up on a ancient brewing process called parti-gyle. When you run an all grain batch you let heated water steep in a vessel called a tun and then drain the tun into your brew pot. The grains are then thrown out. Back in older times throwing these grains away would not happen because getting grain to brew was not an easy task. So what a brewer would do is do a first run of steeping and draining, add more water then steep and drain for a second time. Sometimes there would be a third and forth step to the runnings. With each step the ABV of the beer would get less and less because the amount of fermentable sugars would get washed off the grain from the prior process.
With all of this in mind I decided to create the Pumpking Clone with my first runnings then add about 2 more pounds of darker grain and create a pumpkin stout. My liquid yeast would be different than the ST clone because I wanted to reuse the yeast for a new batch. I also wanted to bump up the ABV with some dried malt extract, which I had already from a 5 pound online purchase a number of months ago. All in all the additional ingredients ran me about $11.
Doing a parti-gyle is not something you can do on a whim. It takes a fair amount of planning (your basically making two beers) and a lot of time. My brew day took about 10 hours, but at the end I had two beers. A typical all-grain brew day is done in about 8 hours.