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Old 09-11-2012, 05:22 AM   #21
Sir Humpsalot
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Originally Posted by igliashon View Post
Put yourself in our shoes--what would YOU do if you found out you could never drink regular "real" beer ever again? Would you be happy drinking "country wine" for the rest of your days? Would you take it lying down if someone told you you could never have another hefeweizen or IPA or stout ever again?
Honestly? I wouldn't make a spiced beer. Because in general, I can't stand them! LOL

So see? We have this double-disconnect because I don't see the recipe as being very beer-like due to the lack of grains, and because you are spicing it up... which I generally detest.

But as I type this, I am drinking my own Oatmeal Cookie Ale with oats, cinnamon, vanilla, and candi sugar. So for someone who doesn't like spiced ales, I suppose I'm doing a really poor job of proving it.

And of course, I say to each their own. I'm not going to look at your recipe and say it looks bad just because it's not something that I would brew. Part of being a connosieur without being a snob, is being able to taste things you don't like and appreciate them for what they are, find places for them. One of my favorite personal attributes is the ability to recommend things I don't like to people, and have them really dig it. When you understand something, and you drop your ego and preconceptions, it's possible to do this and it's really cool. And honestly, I read the recipe you posted from that standpoint.

Like I said, I didn't realize it was in the Gluten-Free forum. Could you imagine if any of a hundred other HBT members had made the same mistake? They would have accused you of making hooch and mocked you! Me, I looked at the recipe, thought about it a bit, and came to the conclusion that it would probably be seriously lacking in any appreciable grain-like quality.

And as a matter of fact, I just tasted my first beer made (partly) with rice solids a couple of days ago. So I actually do understand what that lends to a beer and I don't think the flavor is necessarily bad. But as I said from the beginning, and as I will say again to answer your question...

What would I do in your shoes?

Well, I suppose wouldn't brew a spiced ale because I don't like them. But, if for some reason I wanted to, then I would add some grains and malt and make a few other changes as well... so...

First, I would add some quick oats to increase the mouthfeel and body,

Second, I'd toss out the candied ginger and use fresh grated ginger, probably no more than about 1 TBSP though. Fresh is better. Candied just brings more weird ingredients into the mix. I prefer knowing what's in my beer.

Third, I'd use a quality ground cinnamon in place of the sticks as it will provide better utilization in your recipe. I'm not talking about "grocery store cinnamon" though. Go to thespicehouse.com, or penzeys.com and get a quality freshly ground cinnamon instead. Or... if you insist on starting with sticks, get a small whirly-chopping coffee grinder and just grind it yourself before adding it to your beer. However, you go, you'll get more repeatable results. With a one hour steep, you simply won't get a predictable level of extraction from the whole sticks as you will from the ground spice. As for quantity, I'd use 1.5 TBSP if you are shooting for "cinnamon-forward, but still balanced", or 2 TBSP would still be okay for a darker beer, or for something that's going to age a bit longer than usual. You could also add it to your primary instead to ensure you aren't leaving anything in the kettle.

Fourth, I would bottle with dextrose because it is 100% predictable. If I thought maple syrup would be good in the beer, I would add it in the boil, or in the primary. Crazy bottle-conditioning schemes (honey, syrup, agave nectar, etc) are fun and interesting for the newb, but in general are only worth their value as a conversation piece. The flavor difference between bottling vs adding to primary or secondary is not appreciable and really isn't worth the risk of under/over-carbing from a QC standpoint.

Fifth, I would use chestnut chips. The first reason is that reportedly these are a good malt alternative. The second reason is that this is a Christmas beer and who doesn't associate Christmas with chestnuts roasting on an open fire? I mean, that's just too easy of a connection to pass up.... especially when it's one of the most highly-touted alternatives right now in GF brewing.

Ok... that's all I can think of for now. You asked what I would do in your shoes, and there you have it. I still say the recipe is very week on grains. Maybe add some oats and even toast some oats in your oven too... for a bit more of that grain flavor.


But with all that said, this is coming from somebody who doesn't know a lot about GF brewing... I just really really like beer in all its shapes and sizes and colors. If I came off as a snob, it wasn't intended. Like I said, before I realized I was in the GF forum, it just seemed like a questionable recipe for a style of beer I generally don't care for. But that's not to say we couldn't brew a good one...
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Old 09-11-2012, 01:37 PM   #22
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A few (closing) thoughts and then I'm done with this thread...there is a tremendous difference between criticism and critical feedback. Sir H., you have finally transitioned from criticism to critical feedback and I want to acknowledge that and thank you. Though you may not have intended to be a "snob" or "dismissive" you and a few others' posts were quite harsh and lacking in anything actually helpful.

That being said, I made a mistake inputting my recipe that may have eliminated much of this discussion. I type my recipes into word and copy/paste them here so perhaps I didn't "highlight" the key ingredient of 5 pounds of oats. Those will be steeped prior to boiling. However they were left out, I apologize for that oversight.

The candied ginger and maple syrup for bottling, despite repeatedly being told these (really the maple syrup) are "newb" mistakes, or an illogical "phase" that I will eventually "outgrow", or even the type of thing "little kids throw together when their parents are away"; these suggestions were taken directly from the same recipe in the Brooklyn Brew Shop's Beer Making book. The only "newb" mistake I have made is following the advice of successful micro-brewers and published authors. Shame on me.

That being said, I currently have a maple syrup cider bottled and it tastes amazing. The maple syrup flavor was added at bottling time. I also have a number of bottles of Acerglyn, I'm assuming it is known what that is, which also taste amazing. Both require additions of maple syrup at different times, including bottling, and have turned out great. So my experience thus far, young novice that I still am, seems to be that maple syrup works quite well in other of fermented beverages. Granted, neither of those are beers. But I will take the advice received and add it prior to bottling. I think I'll rack onto the maple syrup. So thank you for that feedback.

Chestnut Chips seem to be generating a lot of buzz, I agree. While having heard much positive I have also heard much negative about the beers made from chestnut chips from those who have tried them. Alas, at 30 bucks for 5lbs, I'll most likely never know.

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Old 09-11-2012, 03:46 PM   #23
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@ChasidicCalvinist, I know you said you were done with this thread, but I have a quick off-topic question for you:

You said that you'd heard much negative about chestnut chips. Apart from the price (which I agree is very steep), and the 24 hour mash (which is a huge PITA) what are the negatives? I've only used them once, and I had good results, and I hadn't seen much negative when I did a search, so I'm curious as to others' experiences.

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Old 09-11-2012, 05:04 PM   #24
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@Sir Humpsalot, thank you for giving some good critical feedback.

@frothdaddy--I've never used chestnuts myself, but I've had all of the Harvester beers (a gluten-free brewery out of Portland that makes all their beers with a combo of sorghum extract, GF oats, cane sugar, and roasted chestnuts), and I thought they were awful. The pale and raspberry ales were alright, but the red and dark ales--which get most of their flavor from the roasted chestnuts--had an ashy, tobacco-like taste that I couldn't stand. I know they roast their own chestnuts, so it's possible there's something screwy with their roasting technique. I'm also not sure if they mash the chestnuts or not (and if they do, how successful the results are), but I can say the beers all had a dry starchy taste and a slightly astringent mouthfeel (which was NOT from the hops, which were fairly weak in most of them). My thoughts after tasting them was that if this is as good as chestnut beers can get, I'm staying the heck away from chestnuts!

But, like any good scientist, I have to acknowledge that there are too many other variables to conclusively blame the chestnuts. It could also be the oats or the sugar, or something in the processing of the chestnuts, or even just a bad batch (they're a tiny 7 bbl brewery and may not have a QA lab yet). I've heard good things about their IPA and intend to try it once I can afford another ~$50 to have a sixer of their bombers shipped down here. I also intend to give chestnuts a shot myself in the near future. I have to agree with Sir Humpsalot, they seem like they could be good in a Christmas beer!

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Old 09-11-2012, 05:49 PM   #25
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I expected to see frankincense and myrrh in this recipe...

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Old 09-11-2012, 06:43 PM   #26
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Didn't Anchor put frankincense and myrrh in one of their Christmas beers one year?

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