To bake gourds, cut in half, clean, and bake open side down at 350°F for 60 minutes. Scoop out the flesh when finished. Sweet potatoes should be pierced prior to baking in their skins (they will ooze beautiful caramelized sweet potato goodness while baking). Smash the flesh and use as above. Baking will gelantize the starch, but also caramelize it and create some luscious Malliard reaction products. Canned pumpkin can be baked in a pan until, coincidentally enough, it resembles a pumpkin pie. One can is equal to about a pound of pumpkin. In all cases (canned, cooked or baked) use about 4 pounds of prepared or canned pumpkin or whole sweet potatoes per 5-gallon batch as a starting point. Once again, these baked products can be added to either kettle or mash, but will deliver more flavor than the cooked, and offer fermentables if mashed.
A pound of brown or tubinado sugar or a cup of light molasses added to the kettle can enhance these beers nicely. Light to medium caramel malts and a good measure of Munich malt or extract also pairs well. If you are mashing your prepared veggies, vorlauf to clarity and use some rice hulls to prevent stuck sparges. As for spices, try any of the pie spices individually (ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg) or in personalized ratios or just add a couple of teaspoons of pie spice mixture. I prefer earthy and fruity hops like Perle, Northern Brewer, Bramling Cross, East Kent Golding, Fuggles, Mt. Hood, Crystal, Cluster and Willamette. English ale yeast will give the best estery and earthy fermentation, but Scottish or American yeasts also will do the job.
(extract/specialty grain) OG 1.060, 35 IBU
1# Crystal 40 or Caramunich® II
4# Light DME and 3# Munich or Amber LME
Steep grains at 155F for 20 minutes, remove grains, add malt extract and top up to 6 gallons.
Bring to a boil and add 1.5 oz East Kent Goldings hops
Boil for 40 minutes and add 1 oz Styrian Goldings hops. Then boil for 20 minutes, add 1 oz Saaz hops, turn off the burner, and chill.
Ferment with Wyeast 3711 or White Labs WLP565.
Optional spices: add up to ½ oz freshly ground white peppercorn, cinnamon, nutmeg or coriander or 1 oz fresh chopped ginger or orange zest.