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Old 08-06-2010, 11:15 AM   #1
Neutrino
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Default Christmas is coming... what to brew?

So looking at my calendar, I see that Christmas is slowly creeping up, and as I do the math, I realize that for Best Holiday Beer Results(tm), I should think about getting something in my fermenter NOW for peak drinking over the Holidays. I may even be a little late, come to think of it.

I tend to buy my stuff from AHS (nothing wrong with the other companies, but AHS has always treated me right, and has earned my business over time), and was looking through their holiday ales. In general, I like ALL kinds of beer provided they are well brewed, so anything works. What experiences have y'all had with some of the AHS holiday ales, like "AHS Winter Wonder Warmer", or, something I'm leaning toward, "AHS Chocolate Orange Holiday Ale"? Any good? One other thing... I don't have very good temperature control, so this will ferment at 73F or so. Any other seasonals you would recommend for the hols? I'd be doing extract, if that makes any difference. SWMBO is also pretty easy going on taste, though does lean toward belgian beers.

Thanks in advance. So... not so much "what do I brew next?" as "what's your experience with Holiday beers in the 73F brewing range?"

N.

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Old 08-06-2010, 12:13 PM   #2
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I've never had chocolate and orange in a beer, but just together they are *delicious*, and very Christmas-y.

If the room temp is 73F, then the brew temp could be as high as 78F... not good.

You sure you can't put the fermentor in a water bucket or Rubbermaid(tm) full of water for the first 3-5 days? Even if you didn't add any ice bottles, the extra water would suck out the extra heat from the fermentation. Just the water and a fan would be a super help...

If you can't do a water bath for whatever reason, then I recommend a wheat or a saison. Definitely avoid anything that is supposed to have a "crisp" flavor.

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Old 08-06-2010, 12:35 PM   #3
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AHS has the Belgian White listed as their top seller.....since the wife likes it, that might be a good choice!

I think I'm going to order it too in the next day or two. I already have a German Hefe lined up for the next batch but I'm doing some longer term planning.

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Old 08-06-2010, 01:12 PM   #4
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I brewed the Happy Holiday Brew from Midwest about 2-3 months ago. It has cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in it. I tried one last week. It was interesting. I think it'll be better in colder weather and served a little warmer.

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/happy-holiday-brew.html

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Old 08-07-2010, 01:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justibone View Post
I've never had chocolate and orange in a beer, but just together they are *delicious*, and very Christmas-y.

If the room temp is 73F, then the brew temp could be as high as 78F... not good.

You sure you can't put the fermentor in a water bucket or Rubbermaid(tm) full of water for the first 3-5 days? Even if you didn't add any ice bottles, the extra water would suck out the extra heat from the fermentation. Just the water and a fan would be a super help...

If you can't do a water bath for whatever reason, then I recommend a wheat or a saison. Definitely avoid anything that is supposed to have a "crisp" flavor.
Of course, you're bang on about the temperature. I do want to find a beat up chest freezer to convert for lagering, but until I do, I'm a little stuck. Blugh... hence my tendency to make darker ales where I can slide by. No lagers for me until I find a way to make a cooler. I'll try the water bath next time I brew and see what difference it makes. I'm sure it will be pretty noticeable!

N.
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Old 08-07-2010, 02:06 PM   #6
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A great beer to brew now that takes advantage of the warmer temps is a weizenbock.

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Old 08-07-2010, 02:33 PM   #7
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There are several here (myself included) who have made or are making the bourbon barrel old ale from Midwest. Base yeast is S-04, which ferments in the 60-75 degree range. I had mine in the primary for three weeks at 65 using a bucket with water and frozen water bottles to control temps; then racked it off to the secondary for aging with a couple of whole vanilla beans and a nice dose of Wild Turkey soaked oak cubes. I added an extra pound of DME so OG = 1.074 and the last check it was at 1.014. It is going to be a very nice winter warmer. Secondary is a 4-6 month deal. I can see using the zest from a couple of oranges, soaked in bourbon, and maybe a cinnimon stick to add more of a holiday flavor.

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/bourb...l-old-ale.html

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Old 08-07-2010, 04:25 PM   #8
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At temperatures in that range I plan on brewing (very soon) a belgian tripel, something similar to a Chimay. I want to take advantage of the elevated temperatures for an increase in fruity esters.

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Old 08-07-2010, 04:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceportBP View Post
There are several here (myself included) who have made or are making the bourbon barrel old ale from Midwest. Base yeast is S-04, which ferments in the 60-75 degree range. I had mine in the primary for three weeks at 65 using a bucket with water and frozen water bottles to control temps; then racked it off to the secondary for aging with a couple of whole vanilla beans and a nice dose of Wild Turkey soaked oak cubes. I added an extra pound of DME so OG = 1.074 and the last check it was at 1.014. It is going to be a very nice winter warmer. Secondary is a 4-6 month deal. I can see using the zest from a couple of oranges, soaked in bourbon, and maybe a cinnimon stick to add more of a holiday flavor.

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/bourb...l-old-ale.html
That's exactly what I'm gonna do!!! The thoughts of it make me drool with anticipation! Hadn't thought about the orange zest though. You think we have enough time to age it before Christmas? My kit is on the way.
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Old 08-07-2010, 05:03 PM   #10
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I've got a very low IBU dubbel in the primary using a combination of the Chimay and Achouffe strains (WLP500 and Wyeast 3522). I did a partial extract, (a 4.75 lb. grain bill which included Belgian 2 row, .5 lb. of the new "Carabelge" and .25 of Aromatic). 6 lb. of LME, 1 lb. of Amber DME, candi sugar (dark and crystal)...

I could easily tweak this to become a "Belgian Specialty Ale" - add a bit more Aromatic, dark candi syrup and honey (vs. any light candi), and some orange peel. Hallertaur or Styrian goldings for flavor hops, perhaps a gentle wafting of Saaz for fragrance, and pick any of the Belgian strains that suit your fancy - both the strains I used had a fruit profile that I thought would be nice.

Using a ghetto swamp cooler - carboy covered in a tshirt in a shallow metal pan (like one would use for a DIY oil change) full of water... temps averaging around 68-70.

You could even try Omegang's "Three Philosophers" approach and blend your brew with a favorite lambic! One of my favorite cooler weather brews.

What I love about Belgian strongs as well as Heffes is that the yeast is what really makes the beer, and if you respect the yeast, it loves you back with some really neat flavors and fragrance.

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