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Old 11-02-2009, 06:39 PM   #1
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Default Christmas Brown...critique?

I am thinking of brewing this recipe this weekend:

I have borrowed some from others, and customized a bit. Let me know what you think. I am shooting for a spicy brown ale.

Brown xmas ale

6.0 lbs Pale Liquid Extract
0.25 lbs Chocolate Malt
0.5 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L
0.25 lbs Special Roast

1.0 oz Cascade at 60 mins
1.0 oz Willamette at 30 mins
1.0 oz Willamette at 5 mins
White Labs East Coast Ale - WL008

At 10 mins add:
1/2 cup Brown sugar

At 5 minutes add:
3 Cinnamon Sticks
.5 tsp Allspice
.25 tsp Nutmeg

Thanks,
Patrick

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Old 11-02-2009, 09:21 PM   #2
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I think as a whole your recipe looks good. If I were brewing it, I'd probably tweak things a little, but i think your recipe will be good with or without tweaks.

If it were me, I'd probably drop the brown sugar. It'll pretty much all ferment out leaving your beer drier and lighter-bodied. For me, if I were drinking a Christmas Brown Ale, I'd want it full-bodied, slightly sweet, not dry & light bodied.

And if it were me, I would also think about adding some flaked barley -- it often leads to a fuller, richer mouthfeel that I think would be nice in a Xmas Brown.

Let us know how it goes.

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Old 11-02-2009, 10:17 PM   #3
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Looks like a nice brown. I did a Christmas Red Ale last year that came out very nice. The recipe (discussed here) was sort of cobbled together because my LHBS didn't have all the ingredients I needed.

I have to agree that the brown sugar will likely dry out the beer and might not be what you're looking for. Try a small amount of un-sulfured molasses for that darker flavour. I used a 12oz jar in mine, but that might be a bit much for this beer. Maybe half that? You could also look into 6-8oz of Dex malt to add to the body. I'm not sure if that has to be mashed or not though. Your spice additions look good. The spices in my beer took quite a while to mellow, but once they did it was a nicely balanced beer.

Let us know how it turns out.

Terje

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Old 11-02-2009, 11:21 PM   #4
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Hmmm....so, how do you get a bit of a sweet flavor.

I thought the brown sugar would do it.

I am glad I asked the experts.

Patrick

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Old 11-02-2009, 11:35 PM   #5
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You might want to fact check me, but I'm under the impression that adding lactose will give your beer sweetness without fermenting out. I have no idea how much you'd want to use.

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Old 11-03-2009, 02:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greencoat View Post
You might want to fact check me, but I'm under the impression that adding lactose will give your beer sweetness without fermenting out. I have no idea how much you'd want to use.

Like Milk?

Patrick
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Old 11-03-2009, 02:46 AM   #7
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No, not milk. Lactose is a sugar derived from milk that is not fermentable by brewer's yeast. It's available at homebrew shops and maybe some of those high end grocery stores like Whole Foods. Use 8 oz to 1 lb in a 5 gallon batch.

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Old 11-03-2009, 02:52 AM   #8
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Another idea to add sweetness is to add brown sugar as a priming sugar. Alot of the saccharides will be left along with a nice soft molasses flavor.

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Old 11-03-2009, 12:22 PM   #9
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Best leave the brown sugar out of it. 1/2 CUP won't make the beer drier or lighter-bodied by any perceptible amount, but it won't make it any sweeter, either.

Avoid flaked grains unless you're mashing. You'll get nothing but glop in your kettle, and nothing but haze in your beer.

Dextrine malt (CaraPils) can be added to enhance body. I don't think you need it, but others might disagree. 8 ounces ought to be sufficient.

As will lactose (brewer's milk sugar). Again, 8 ounces ought to do it. Don't use lactose and CaraPils together!

Neither will add much sweetness, but will enhance body considerably.

Really, I'd use neither. I'd add four to six ounces of a darker crystal - like 80-90L - to the steep. A different sort of sweet, but still sweet, along with the body and mouthfeel enhancements crystal malt can provide.

If you're adding spices, avoid flavor/aroma hops. They will compete too much with the spices, muddling everything. Think of hops as a spice and try to imagine the cinnamon blend with hops in. Usually, it doesn't work very well. Try it - boil your proposed blend of five-minute additions in some water, then taste the tea. It won't be very nice.

There are two other methods of spicing your beer.

You can just brew a brown ale (your basic recipe). When you're ready to bottle, you can boil up a tea of your spices in a pint of water for five minutes or so. Then add the strained tea incrementally to your primed beer before packaging. Taste after each addition. When you go slightly too far, slightly too spicy, stop. The excess flavor will attenuate in the bottle, leaving you with the perfect amount.

The other method is one I use with holiday beers: On the day of a party, I decant a sixer or so into a crock-pot, add a cinnamon stick, a half-dozen whole cloves, and a grating of fresh nutmeg. Let warm for a few hours. Yes, it'll be flat. Yes, it'll be spicy, warm, flavorful and brilliant.

Good luck!

Bob

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Old 11-04-2009, 01:39 PM   #10
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Been reading a bunch of recipes here:

http://hbd.org/cgi-bin/recipator/recipes

Most use honey in the boil for winter / xmas ales...

Any merit to this?

Patrick

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