I just tasted my pumpkin ale after fermentation was complete and it's not as sweet as I was hoping. The spice and pumpkin flavors are great, but I'd like it to have a slightly sweeter finish. I added half a pound of lactose to the last 10 minutes of the boil, so the mouth feel is good and creamy, but still feels like it's missing something. I'm about to rack it to the secondary carboy for a couple weeks, then I'll be kegging with forced CO2. Any suggestions on what I could add at this point to make it a bit sweeter? Thanks in advance for your help!
Your options are pretty limited at this point. If you want to add fermentable sugars to the keg, you'll need to incapacitate the yeast first. You can do this with a measured dose of potassium sorbate and metabisulfite, but that will likely affect the flavour. You could pasteurize the beer, but that's technically difficult and will also affect the flavour.
The best and simplest options are:
- Add an artificial sweetener to the keg.
- Sweeten just before serving. Put some simple syrup in the glass before dispensing from the keg. You could experiment with different flavourings in the syrup -- vanilla comes to mind.
What's the gravity reading on it now? What was the original gravity?
A half-pound of lactose should bring a lot of residual sweetness to the party, but if it was a very dry beer in the first place, perhaps the lactose added so-far is only making up for the dryness.
You can encourage residual sweetness with the addition of crystal malts (which provide unfermentable sugars) and/or a high mash temperature if you're doing all-grain (which promotes longer-chain, less-fermentable sugars).