The Fall holiday season is in full swing with Thanksgiving Day just around the corner. To many, this day, and the associated holiday season, means indulgence. This is a time for home brewers to showcase their efforts with friends and family, perhaps pairing their brew creations with a holiday dish. If you have not already started a Thanksgivig day brew, producing a beer in time for Thanksgiving Day is not feasible, but, a Christmas Day, New Year's Day, or festive holiday beer is doable.
Pumpkins are still plentiful here in Colorado Springs, and they make a great addition to beer. Pumpkin adds fermentable sugars and can be added anytime from mash to late boil. In my last pumpkin beer, I added pumpkin at 60, 45, 30, and 15 minutes left in the boil. I was using pure pumpkin puree, but cubed, baked pumpkin works well too. Varying the roast time of the pumpkin can also impart different character to the beer.There are other holiday ingredients that can also add a bit of seasonality to home brew: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cranberries, and whatever else fits your holiday festivities. Try dry-hopping with spices to turn that Brown Ale into a spiced Brown Ale, in time for Thanksgiving. Most spices are added in the last 10 - 15 minutes of the boil. Some, however, are added during fermentation which affects aroma than taste.
In creating a holiday beer, there are really no guidelines. Many brewers brew a style such as a brown ale or Belgian pale ale and add spices, turning their ordinary brew into a festive holiday brew. Do not be afraid to experiment, after all, that is part of the joy of home brewing.
Brew on Brewer!