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The Renegade Pumpkin Ale

by Steve DellaSala September 22, 2008
Weeping Radish Farm Brewery

Weeping Radish Farm Brewery

Weeping Radish Farm Brewery Renegade Pumpkin Ale

Brewed on Saturday August 23rd, 2008
Weeping Radish Farm Brewery


Uli’s favorite Farm Toy is a ‘64 Mercedes Fire Truck - given to him by Durst-Malz

DSC04819compressed.jpgIt took over 6 years for the dynamic duo of Matt Glass and Steve DellaSala to swing into action again and create another Renegade Pumpkin Ale. We last attempted this feat in 2002 at the now defunct Winter Park Hops. This time the stakes were higher with a system 6x the capacity and the location was in Jarvisburg, NC near the “Outer Banks” off U.S. HWY 158 towards the coast at the Weeping Radish Farm Brewery. Founded in 1986 by Uli Bennewitz (a former Bavarian Fireman) the brewery prided itself on strictly adhering to the German Purity Law of 1516 known as the Reinheitsgebot - that is until Matt and I arrived and fowled up their system with fresh pumpkins, cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander. Check out Uli’s shady grin with incriminating spices in hand.

In 2006 Weeping Radish moved the brewery to Eco Farm where they now own 22-acres of organic farming. Weeping Radish resembles a self sufficient little town, with a master butcher, fabulous restaurant, farm, brewery and storefront. They pride themselves on using meats from local farmers to create their culinary delights using steaks and wursts including my favorite, the GlassWurst: named after none other than Brewmeister Matt Glass for it was he who single handedly convinced the butcher to create a Bratwurst using their freshly grown red hot Habanera peppers (and red hot they are). One of the special sites at the restaurant is the bar which is fabricated from an old storefront home built in the 1800s. Bennewitz had the front of the house reconstructed but during the dismantling process, many letters, notes and pictures were discovered behind the walls. Those historic documents are now embedded into the bar top, which adds another element of atmosphere to the place.

DSC04802compressed.jpg DSC04828compressed.jpg

The Recipe

For 18 Barrels – Approximately 600-gallonsDSC04788compressed.jpg

  • 750-lbs Rahr 2-Row from Minnesota
  • 330-lbs Durst Munich 40 from Heidelsheim
  • 160-lbs of fresh pumpkin pulp steamed at 185 degrees for 1 ½ hours and added to beginning of boil
  • 2-lbs U.S. Nugget Hops Pellet
    60-minute boil
  • · 3.25-lbs. German Perle Pellet
    15-minute boil
  • · 5.50 lbs. German Tettnanger Whole Leaves
    Finishing hops
  • · 41-oz. CinnamonDSC04792compressed.jpg
    8-oz at 90-minute boil (start)
    3-oz 75-minute
    15-oz 20-minute
    15-oz at finishing
  • 14.5-oz. Nutmeg
    2.5-oz at 90-minute boil (start)
    5-oz at 20-minute boil
    7-oz at finishing
  • 7-oz. Crushed Coriander
    Added to finish only

Now to the Brewing

With grains cracked we began the conversion as an infusion mash for 1 ½ hours while monitoring the pH to maintain about a 5.5 ratio. This gave me plenty of time for to tour the farm and taste some of the other locally produced beers. When the mash was ready, we sparged and transferred the wort to the boil tank where we added all the remaining ingredients in the timed scheduled noted in the recipe. We definitely charted new ground for this brew. For starters, we used fresh pumpkins grown on the premises but instead of slicing and baking to caramelize the pumpkin, Glass and his helpers placed the pumpkin quarters in a smoke steamer for 1 ½ hours until they were as soft as can be. They then skinned them and placed the chunks in a grinder to create the pulp you see below.




From the Pumpkin Patch

To Pulp

To Brew

The pumpkin color looked wonderful however we had some hesitation because just about every recipe you read talks about caramelizing the pumpkins, making no mention of merely steaming them. To be safe, after adding the pumpkin to the boil, we skimmed the top surface of foam, removing mainly starches. We also decided to add pectic enzyme to the fermentation tank – something we didn’t do during previous brewing endeavors.




One of many spice additions

Before skimming top

After skimming top

From the moment the pumpkin and the first batch of spices hit the boil the entire brewery and the surrounding area was filled with aromas similar to grandma’s pumpkin pie. The aroma grew stronger with each addition. By the time we made the last addition, it had become so intense that people started dropping by to comment on the awesome aroma and to express their excitement in regard to sampling the final brew. Even Bennewitz was excited.

With one last check of the pH levels, we added pectic enzymes to the fermentation tank as we transferred over the wort. Glass will be adding some Irish Moss when the beer is “racked” (transferred to the conditioning tank) next week.

Closing Remarks

It’s all a waiting game now and the anticipation is getting the better of me. The Renegade Pumpkin Ale will be on tap at Weeping Radish around Sept. 13 and bottles will soon be available for purchase online at www.weepingradish.com.

Before we even made the beer, two pallets were sold based on word of mouth alone.

Thanks to everyone at Weeping Radish for their hospitality and kindness during my recent stay. I’d like to thank Glass and Bennewitz for the opportunity. It was an awesome experience that will long be remembered.


Steve DellaSala

Steve DellaSala is a Meadmeister and member of the Central Florida Homebrewers who will be having their 20th annual Sunshine Challenge Homebrew Competition in Sanford, Florida at The Palms Island Resort and Marina on November 14th and 15th. Glass and DellaSala will be participating in the event with two kegs of the Pumpkin Ale. For more information visit their website at www.cfhb.org


10010011 posts on September 24, 2008 19:25
I have tried a couple pumpkin ale's.

Yuck, I don't like it.
gene posts on September 24, 2008 12:26
Interesting article, thanks!

So, are the people attending the SOTU going to get a little sample?

I like your thinking!
Adam posts on September 24, 2008 09:26
Interesting article, thanks!

So, are the people attending the SOTU going to get a little sample?
GlocksRock posts on September 24, 2008 08:57
mmm…. I love some good pumpkin beer. I'll be going to Oktoberfest this weekend, I'm so excited, it's one of my favorite events, and as soon as I leave I get excited about going again the next year. If I see this beer there, I will definitely give it a taste.
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