Ok, I want to get an Xmas beer brewed in the next week or two so it can age appropriately for the holiday. The only problem is I have no clue what exactly I want to do. Here are my thoughts, and if anyone cares to throw out any suggestions/grain bills I am all ears.
Generally I go with a dark beer for the holidays. This year I want to keep it light. Regardless how good a dark beer is a lot of people shy away from even trying them. I also typically go with a cinnamon/nutmeg type of spice. This year I want to change that up just a bit. A friend of mine actually mentioned a cider type of taste. While I am not huge on ciders it did get the wheels turning to some form of a apple spice pale ale. Yes I am aware of the cinnamon in this style, but paired with the apple profile I think it would be interesting.
I am thinking of...
8.5lbs 2 row american
1.5lbs Vienna malt
1lb Crystal/Caramel 60L or 80L
1oz Cascade ~5%AA 60 mins left
0.5 Halla ~6-7% last 15 mins
Wyeast 1332 or 4766 (cider ale if use would be feasible)
At the beginning of the boil pour ~ 1 quart of apple cider into the kettle.
This will probably require around a 90 min boil
152 degree strike
180 degree sparge
After gravity settles transfer to 2ndary. Depending on taste possibly boil another quart of cider to add in once it has cooled to RT.
My concerns are...
1. This bill does not utilize a ton of hops, but what are the thoughs of hops playing well with a mild/moderate cider backing?
2. Is using a "cider" specific yeast feasible for this to allow that profile to come through? Wyeast states their strain is fine for up to 12% ABV which this will not come to half that. Thoughts on trying out that yeast, or should I go with the Northwest 1322 Ale yeast?
I still have around 2lbs of grain I can add to the bill if needed to adjust taste. I am pretty comfy mashing up to 13lbs in my MLT.
Another option instead of actual cider is that I could get some nice ripe green apples, slice them up, blend them, add cinnamon or w/e spice I decide to go with. I can either dump that directly into the fermentor or do a "soup" boil and use that. I have never had an issue using actual watermelons/pumpkins in my brews so using apples does not bother me to much.
My "goal" I guess for this would be to have a moderate 6% or so ABV "dirty golder" beer (just enough to warm you up) that reminds you of an apple pie/cider type flavor.