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Old 09-27-2012, 05:29 AM   #1
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Default Spruce Christmas Ale Recipe

Planning to brew this winter warmer in a couple of weeks. I didn't want to go with a traditional spiced ale, as I want some resinous/piney character from the spruce and cardamom. Trying to basically build a recipe that will make those two ingredients shine, thought juniper would complement them both as well as the residual sweetness from the molasses. Here is the recipe, with my specific questions/concerns posted afterwards...

2012 Spruce Christmas Ale - Christmas/Winter Specialty Spiced Beer (21B) Brewer Steve Davis
Date 10/13/2012
Batch Size 5.500 gal Boil Size 7.000 gal
Boil Time 60.000 min Efficiency 70%
OG 1.072 FG 1.018
ABV 7.0% Bitterness 24.2 IBU (Tinseth)
Color 23.7 srm (Morey) Calories (per 12 oz.) 239

Fermentables
Total grain: 15.625 lb Name Type Amount Mashed Late Yield Color
Maris Otter Grain 14.000 lb Yes No 78% 3.0 srm
Chocolate Malt (UK) Grain 6.000 oz Yes No 73% 450.0 srm
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L Grain 12.000 oz Yes No 74% 80.0 srm
Molasses Sugar 8.000 oz No No 78% 80.0 srm

Hops
Name Alpha Amount Use Time Form IBU
Northern Brewer 9% 1.000 oz Boil 60.000 min Pellet 24.2

Misc
Name Type Use Amount Time
Spruce Essence Flavor Boil 2.000 tsp 1.000 min
Cardamom Spice Boil 1.000 tsp 15.000 min
Oak Chips Flavor Secondary 1.000 oz 21.000 day
Juniper Berries Herb Boil 1.000 tsp 15.000 min
Whirlfloc Fining Boil 1.000 tsp 15.000 min

Yeast
Name Type Form Amount Stage
WLP007 - Dry English Ale Yeast Ale Liquid 2.367 tbsp Primary

Mash
Name Type Amount Temp Target Temp Time
Mash in Infusion 4.727 gal 171.000 F 154.000 F 60.000 min
Final Batch Sparge Infusion 4.240 gal 188.179 F 165.200 F 15.000 min

Looking for some feedback as a lot of these ingredients will be new to me...
- Should I add a late hop for flavor/aroma, or will the late additions of juniper, cardamom and spruce be enough to let them shine without being cloying?
- How much spruce essence and cardamom and when to add? I don't have spruce trees in my area so tips are not an option for me. From other posts I've read 2 tsp of essence seems about what I'm looking for in this.
- How much juniper berries would be enough to get just a hint without overpowering the spruce and cardamom?
- Thoughts on the oak in secondary? Will it help or hinder the flavors I'm going for?

I use BrewTarget so my recipe format may be different from what most of you are used to. I just threw some of the ingredients in there to get it printed out. It defaulted to 1 tsp for most of the ingredients, but I will adjust based on the feedback I get.

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Old 09-27-2012, 05:48 AM   #2
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I would not add late hops if you are putting juniper and spruce in there, personally. The "cloying" is going to be a product of the grain bill, mash profile, and the fermentation, not really the spicing you use. Well...except I suppose you could overdo it on the cardamom. My advice, if you have never made a spiced beer before, is to go way less than you think you ought to. You can always add more, but you can't remove it once you've added it, and you'll find that some spices can be overwhelming.

On another note, where are you getting spruce essence? I have been looking for sources of spruce tips/essence for a while to make a gruit, and so far have not been successful.



One other thing: 1/2 lb of molasses can be a lot depending upon the molasses you use. I added that much in a RIS I made a few years ago, and to this day it is by far the dominant flavor in the beer. Not that it's a bad thing, necessarily. People actually like it, but it is not nearly as balanced as it ought to be IMO. That is another one that I would add a little at a time to taste, because it's very easy to go overboard.

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Old 09-28-2012, 03:33 AM   #3
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Thanks for the feedback. Yeah I was wondering if 1/2 lb molasses was too much, so I might reduce it to 6oz or so to be safe and up the caramel malt to keep the color/fermentables about where I want them. Northern Brewer and Midwest both sell spruce essence online in 2oz bottles. I'm hoping LHBS will have it as well but if not I'll order online. Also there was a website I came across that sells spruce tips in vacuum seal bags, but it was pricey. I'll search for it again and share the link.

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Old 09-28-2012, 03:53 AM   #4
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Spruceontap.com if you're willing to dish out 16 bucks plus shipping for 4oz of spruce tips.

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Old 10-13-2012, 08:00 AM   #5
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Any updates or pictures on how this one came out? Did you re-adjust the recipe or not?

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Old 10-21-2012, 07:32 PM   #6
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Yeah, how is this? It sounds intriguing.

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Old 11-04-2012, 11:15 PM   #7
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I did make some recipe adjustments. I did away with the cardamom altogether, and went with 1 oz of juniper. I added the oak to the secondary a few days ago, I'll taste at one week and if the oak flavor is present by then I will go ahead and bottle. The sample I drew off was pretty sprucy, so it will need some time to mellow out. I'm hoping a month in the bottle will do the trick so that I can be drinking them in large quantities by Christmas. Will report results as this progresses.

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