12 Beers of Christmas 2022 Edition

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Potentially calling an audible ......

I just brewed/kegged/tasted a Saison that I brewed with Lallemand Farmhouse Saison Hybrid. It's good, but doesn't have the depth and esters I usually get from my usual Saison yeast (Wyeast 3724). BUT - my very first thought was that it would be great for Wit. Second thought: This may be a really good option for the Gruit (which I hope to brew this weekend). -It literally tastes like what I pictured for the Gruit, minus the crazy spices.

So a couple of crazy thoughts followed - (1) I could pitch the Gruit directly onto the yeast cake from the Saison (I kegged/bottled Sunday using a closed transfer from a Fermzilla all-rounder, leaving over an inch of beer on top of the yeast cake, and it has remained sealed under 7 psi because I didn't have time to clean the fermenters yet). Alternatively (2), I could pitch onto yeast cake and still add a Forbidden Fruit starter and just see what yeast wins ..... a bit whacky but a possibility.

Or (3) I can just go with original plan - make a yeast starter using a frozen Forbidden Fruit harvest. If the starter looks/smells good, go with it, and if any concerns with starter, I have a package of Mangrove Jack M21 Wit yeast I can just direct pitch.

Since you all have a dog in this fight, let me know if anyone has a strong preference or suggestion.

Also, if the first batch fails, I will just brew again. But timing will get a little close because I will be pushing into October at that point (and will have wasted some fine CA Bay Laurel Leaves =c) ).

I am not a participant, so weigh my comments accordingly. I'd stay the course, go with what you brewed (assuming it's drinkable), and ship. I'd also include the recipe in the shipment (something I used to do). While you may not hit the target you're looking for, others will probably like it and learn from your results.

(I'm not a fan of fudging with done beers).

Hope your 12BOC is awesome guys!!!
 

GoodTruble

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I am not a participant, so weigh my comments accordingly. I'd stay the course, go with what you brewed (assuming it's drinkable), and ship. I'd also include the recipe in the shipment (something I used to do). While you may not hit the target you're looking for, others will probably like it and learn from your results.

(I'm not a fan of fudging with done beers).

Hope your 12BOC is awesome guys!!!
I agree generally. But point of clarification - the saison is not my 12BOC beer. I am going to brew the Gruit for 12BOC. I am trying to decide what yeast/method to use for the Gruit. The saison/farmhouse yeast was just a coincidence from my last brew day. But I have not pitched onto a yeast cake or attempted a mixed yeast before, si maybe not the right circumstances (or beer) to test those waters.
 

CaddyWampus

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I agree generally. But point of clarification - the saison is not my 12BOC beer. I am going to brew the Gruit for 12BOC. I am trying to decide what yeast/method to use for the Gruit. The saison/farmhouse yeast was just a coincidence from my last brew day. But I have not pitched onto a yeast cake or attempted a mixed yeast before, si maybe not the right circumstances (or beer) to test those waters.

As a fan of experimentation and someone who has been known to make very last minute decisions, I’d say follow your gut. Hell, I took my selection and basically changed the style but I think it will work out just fine.

As far as pitching in the yeast cake, I’m a fan. Unfortunately, I rarely brew consecutive beers that are close enough to use the same yeast.
 

4_Sons_Brewing

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I have pitched on to a yeast cake before and have a stain on my garage ceiling to prove it. 😂. Have a blowoff tube from the start… I’ve never had a gruit, but I sure like a saison. As others have said, go with your gut - it’s your beer and I’m sure it will be great. I like the advice to include the recipe - I’ll make sure to do that.
 

GoodTruble

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I did not get to brew this weekend. Work, pets (unplanned vet visit), and kids (last weekend before school) took up too much time (priorities). But I saved the yeast slurry and thoroughly cleaned out the fermenters. So probably better overall anyway. Hope to brew the Gruit sometime in the next week.
 

BAF

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I finally grabbed all of the spices I need. Brewing tomorrow which should allow for about 3 months of aging. I'll be bulk aging, and canning it+shipping it thanksgiving week. I intended to brew this 2 months ago, but this summer really got away from me (how is it already September?!). All I have to show for my summer of laziness is an empty pipeline and 2 out of 4 beer taps empty (with one more keg on the verge of kicking).
 

BAF

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Ugh, my brew day went totally awry.... I swear it's just because I'm brewing a specific beer for a specific reason.

First, I guess I didn't dial my pump back enough for my BIAB recirc, because my element looks like it was dry firing a little bit. I thought the beer seemed smokey while I was boiling it, but I kept trucking on and didn't realize the problem until after I moved the wort to the fermenter (luckily I had a false bottom in, so my bag didn't get scorched). Then, I must have bumped the valve on the fermenter when I put it in my ferm chamber. Luckily I walked by a few minutes later and caught it, only lost maybe 8 oz of wort.

So yeah, not my day. I'm still waiting for the wort to cool more before pitching the yeast (my ground water isn't very cool this time of year).

Looking for a consensus from folks though -- should I ferment this out and ship it as is, rebrew it, or drop out?

The wort tastes a touch smokey. It seems fairly subtle now... but I've never done a smoked beer before, so I'm not sure what it'll do after fermenting/conditioning.

I'm going on vacation next week, and I don't have the hops or enough wheat malt left to re-brew tomorrow. So if I do re-brew, it'll be towards the end of the month, which gives it even less time to mature.

Yea/nay on a franken-beer (as long as it turns out alright)?
 

Hoppy2bmerry

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Well, I can’t tell you what to do, but I’ll add that according to some beer historians I’ve heard/read in the early day of malting, all malted grains were dried by the fire hence all beers had a light smoke quality. I brew a Grodziskie most years and the smoke doesn’t get stronger because of fermentation.
 

4_Sons_Brewing

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I’ve never had a Dunkle Weizenbock, so I wouldn’t know the difference…. I don’t speak German either… so if you told me dunkle weizenbock stood for smoked beer, who am I to argue. 😂. I wouldn’t drop out - I’m not a pro, but signed up to try a beer I hadn’t done before, get a few I hadn’t tried before and try to learn something while enjoying a few beers over the holiday season. Cheers!
 

CaddyWampus

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Ugh, my brew day went totally awry.... I swear it's just because I'm brewing a specific beer for a specific reason.

First, I guess I didn't dial my pump back enough for my BIAB recirc, because my element looks like it was dry firing a little bit. I thought the beer seemed smokey while I was boiling it, but I kept trucking on and didn't realize the problem until after I moved the wort to the fermenter (luckily I had a false bottom in, so my bag didn't get scorched). Then, I must have bumped the valve on the fermenter when I put it in my ferm chamber. Luckily I walked by a few minutes later and caught it, only lost maybe 8 oz of wort.

So yeah, not my day. I'm still waiting for the wort to cool more before pitching the yeast (my ground water isn't very cool this time of year).

Looking for a consensus from folks though -- should I ferment this out and ship it as is, rebrew it, or drop out?

The wort tastes a touch smokey. It seems fairly subtle now... but I've never done a smoked beer before, so I'm not sure what it'll do after fermenting/conditioning.

I'm going on vacation next week, and I don't have the hops or enough wheat malt left to re-brew tomorrow. So if I do re-brew, it'll be towards the end of the month, which gives it even less time to mature.

Yea/nay on a franken-beer (as long as it turns out alright)?

This is just my personal opinion, but unless it is an acrid taste I’d roll with it. I definitely am not scared of a little smokiness.
 

GoodTruble

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The toasted wheat for the gruit got a little more "toasted" than I expected during 30 minutes at 350F. Not burnt at all, but definitely browned. So I decided not to add a small amount of oak smoked malt I was going to add. It's such a whacky recipe anyway that it's hard to predict what impact anything will have on the final flavor. Too many ingredients I have not used before to really know how things will balance.
 
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CaddyWampus

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All, I wanted to sort of give a heads up here. I brewed two different sampler versions of the Juniper Rye Braggot and I honestly think it’s just a combo that is not going to work. I believe the honey dries it out too much and the juniper sort of clashes with that.

With all this info, I’ve decided to just stick to the original recipe and do a Juniper Rye Bock. I will be brewing it next weekend to give it plenty of time to condition since it is a lager and all.
 

4_Sons_Brewing

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I picked up the ingredients for the brown ale yesterday.

Leveraging the “Nut Brown” recipe from the HBT recipe section.

9.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 76.6 %
1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 8.5 %
1.00 lb Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 8.5 %
0.50 lb Victory Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 4.3 %
0.25 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 2.1 %
1.00 oz Fuggles [4.50%] (60 min) Hops 14.7 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (15 min) Hops 8.1 IBU
1 Pkgs Nottingham (Danstar #-) Yeast-Ale

I will likely cut back on the hops to only a 60 min hop addition so as not to compete with the gingerbread spices.

If anyone has experience with this recipe or the gingerbread beer I’ll take whatever feedback you might have.
 

GoodTruble

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Has anyone ever suggested just shipping in plastic bottles? The beer will be consumed in 3 months anyway, and seeming safer/easier shipping. I have plenty of plastic bottles already (I also have plenty of glass too).
 

GoodTruble

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Too early for a Christmas tree?

2BCCA1F7-AA6D-4835-BD05-B21191CC1875.jpeg


The Gruit is bottled (....in glass).

DF8DE816-F8CA-4CF5-842B-E2645308AC97.jpeg
 
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GoodTruble

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Ship early?

My schedule is often busy, and always unpredictable.

The Gruit is brewed and bottled. I'll be home in 2 days with an unusually slow 2 weeks to follow. Can I just ship them out mid-October, or is does that violate the spirit of it all? I just don't want things to get too busy later, and I become the straggler.

Early tasting of the Gruit is.... juniper, earthy, interesting, and way drier than I expected.
 

4_Sons_Brewing

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The Ginger Bread Brown has been brewed. Smells amazing - the cinnamon and cloves came through strong from an aroma perspective. I’ve never used these spices in a brew before - so excited to try it. My wife (who is generally not a fan of my beers) was hanging around the garage asking what smelled so good - so I’m taking that as a good sign.
 

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Hey all,

It appears my email was temporarily blocked. Cleared that up

Anyway, just an update on the Fruit cake Old Ale. I went to bottle a couple of weeks ago. I was greater with a thin pellicle across the top. It doesn’t taste off but I don’t want to send it.

I’m rebrewing next weekend.

Looking at my work schedule, the beer schedule and the holiday season this is what I think is realistic. I just want to share here for full transparency.

Brew 8 Oct
Dried fruit around 22 or 23 Oct
Rack off 11 or 12 Nov
Bottle on the 20 or 27th. ( thoughts on how long to let it settle)
Probably able to start preparing packages that week. (28Nov to 3Dec)

The beer will not have benefited by age when received.

I apologize for that but would rather get you a better beer.
 

CaddyWampus

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Hey all,

It appears my email was temporarily blocked. Cleared that up

Anyway, just an update on the Fruit cake Old Ale. I went to bottle a couple of weeks ago. I was greater with a thin pellicle across the top. It doesn’t taste off but I don’t want to send it.

I’m rebrewing next weekend.

Looking at my work schedule, the beer schedule and the holiday season this is what I think is realistic. I just want to share here for full transparency.

Brew 8 Oct
Dried fruit around 22 or 23 Oct
Rack off 11 or 12 Nov
Bottle on the 20 or 27th. ( thoughts on how long to let it settle)
Probably able to start preparing packages that week. (28Nov to 3Dec)

The beer will not have benefited by age when received.

I apologize for that but would rather get you a better beer.

I’m sure I speak for most that I appreciate the transparency and no worries. I’d rather get it later than most than never at all.

Did you taste the infected batch? With such a beer as this I’m just curious how it might have tasted.
 

GoodTimeCharlie

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It tasted dry and with a winter warmer characteristic. Lots of fruit with Cherry most prominent.

I think the reconstituted liquid that I simmered down to a syrup and the treacle I added dried it out. Rebrew will be the base recipe unaltered.

It wasn’t bad. I’m not sure it tasted like an old ale. I’ll likely still bottle it and try it again.
 

GoodTruble

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2 good news, 1 bad news.

First good news, I opened my first bottle of gruit, and it tastes great. Like a juniper, spiced wheat. Almost exactly what I was going for (and not as dry as I worried).

Bad news, after tasting I noticed two floaters in the glass. They were unlike anything I'd seen before. They looked (sorry to be gross) like two little loogies hovering near but not on the surface. This concerned me very much so I grabbed a flashlight to inspect the rest of the bottles.

Second good news, only one other bottle had these (and I will continue to check all of them every few days). So, I think the rest are good (unless something changes).

I don't know what to make of the two bottles. They were both flip tops that I made for myself as keepers/testers, and they have may have been leftover bottles from the week before that I cleaned and left sealed but did not re-clean when bottling the gruit. I DID clean all the regular capped bottles (including the ones going to you guys) immediately before bottling. But when filling my testers at the end, I ran out and just got tired and lazy and used a few bottles leftover from the week before (flip tops that had been sealed all week). However, even those tasted fine, carb was fine (a tad low if anything), smell was fine, and it wasn't dry. So if it was some kind of infection, it wasn't something that ruined the beer (and we'll see if I get sick tonight =c) ).

Another potential theory: the gruit has all kinds of weird ingredients, and my tester bottles all came at the end, pulling up more trub stuff off the bottom. So maybe this just some gunk from the trub that didn't really make any difference (good truble if you will).

Regardless, I'll keep checking the other bottles with a flashlight every few days. This stuff was not subtle/hard to spot once you knew to look for it. If it starts popping up in regular bottles, I will quickly rebrew. I'll go ahead and re-order the "weird" ingredients so they're here if I need them.

But otherwise, I'm happy with the gruit. I think most beer-people would immediately identify it as a gruit (in a good way).

DF0020E5-B37A-42FE-9E5E-B5CFAC465E51.jpeg
 
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4_Sons_Brewing

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I took a hydrometer reading yesterday, (appears to be about done at 1.012) and gave the sample a taste. The spices are certainly shining, through. Leaving in the fermenter for another week or so… bumping the temp up a couple degrees to let the yeast clean up then will crash and keg. Excited to finish this one and give it a try.
 
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