I had an Anchor (or maybe it was Abita) Xmas beer a few years back and was enamoured with the use of peach. We have fresh ones now, so I figure now would be the time to get going on it.
So this year I want to make a holiday beer with peach, ginger, maple, roasted walnuts or pecans, and maybe ginger and/or vanilla.
And maybe in a brown ale? Or a porter? Or something imperial.
So: a) thoughts+experiance on these flavors. B) what type of beer? I currently have the gear for extract+specialty grains...
Fruit generally pairs well with lighter colored/lighter flavored beers. Cream ale, Wibier, and Belgian Tripel might make good candidates as a base beer to add fruit into. Many of the holiday brews I have run across also use the Belgian Dubbel as a base style. I tried a Dubbel with holiday spices, and found that to be fantastic. My LHBS recently did a fruit brewing class, and they infused a Belgian Dubbel with dates. They called it "Dubbel Date"
If you want the fruit to take center stage, try to keep the IBUs below 20 (15 is probably better) using a noble hop. EKG and Saaz are relatively mild, neutral hops that do not take over the brew, leaving room for the fruit to show through.
I suggest brewing the base beer, and then racking the beer onto the fruit in secondary. Secondary on the fruit for about one week, or until the flavor balance is right. You will want to sanitize the fruit by boiling it in a small amount of water and then cooling it, or by soaking it in a neutral spirit like vodka before adding it to the secondary to prevent infection.
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