Quantcast

Brew Day: Christmas Ale 2008

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Beerthoven

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
2,173
Reaction score
38
Location
Cary, NC
Brewed my 2008 Christmas Ale this weekend. It was a fun day! The beer smells great and the color is fantastic. Recipe is below for anyone interested.

Here are a few pics:

My brew assistant cleaning the Barley Crusher



First runnings

(My MLT is 15 years old and was scrounged from Clemson University's Athletic Department by SWMBO when she used to work there. If you look carefully you can still see "CUAD Volleyball" written on the cooler.)


The first batch in my new 15 gallon kettle



Fermentation activity 18 hours after pitching


Brewday was fun and went well even though I didn't hit my numbers. I undershot my mash temp by 2º, which is a lot IMO, and couldn't add any more hot water because my MLT was just about to overflow. My efficiency sucked (73%; I'm used to 85%) because of the low mash temp, no mashout, and the sparge wasn't hot enough. So my OG was only 1.072 when I was planning on 1.083. Oh well, its still plenty big enough and should age well.


BeerSmith Recipe Printout - www.beersmith.com
Recipe: Christmas Old Ale
Brewer: Beerthoven
Style: Christmas/Winter Specialty Spice Beer
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Boil Size: 7.33 gal
Estimated OG: 1.083 SG
Estimated Color: 19.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 44.9 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 85.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount Item Type % or IBU
13 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3 SRM) Grain 90.03 %
12 oz Crystal Malt - 60L (60 SRM) Grain 5.19 %
8 oz Crystal Malt - 120L (120 SRM) Grain 3.46 %
3 oz Black (Patent) Malt (500 SRM) Grain 1.32 %

1.00 oz Warrior [16.90 %] (60 min) Hops 44.9 IBU

0.50 oz Orange Peel, Sweet (Boil 15 min) Misc
4.00 items Clove (whole, crushed) (Boil 1 min) Misc
0.50 tsp Cinnamon (ground, dry) (Boil 1 min) Misc

1 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10 min) Misc

1 Pkg Nottingham dry ale yeast


Total Grain Weight: 14.44 lb
----------------------------
Step Time Step Temp
60 min 152.0 F

Ferment at 68º for 21 days. Secondary for 21 days. Bottle condition until Christmas.
 

Iordz

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2007
Messages
955
Reaction score
6
Location
Phoenix, AZ
So you brewed the beer you will be drinking during Christmas now?! Well, patience is a virtue!
Looks really good.
 

Brewsmith

Home brewing moogerfooger
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Messages
6,252
Reaction score
76
Location
Torrance, CA
Nice planning ahead. That beer should be mellowed out quite a bit by then. The spices need it.
 

RoaringBrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2006
Messages
1,782
Reaction score
4
Location
Lancaster County, PA
Wow, this is a good idea - thanks for the reminder!

I can't brew every weekend, or even every other, bc I don't consume it fast enough. However, I could always brew ahead by brewing up an oktoberfest, a pumpkin ale and christmas ales ahead of time...

I need to start doing some planning!
 
OP
B

Beerthoven

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
2,173
Reaction score
38
Location
Cary, NC
FG reading 9 days after pitching is 1.012. That's about 82% apparent attenuation, for 7.8% ABV.

This is higher than I expected. I'm somewhat relieved, though, since this brew will condition in the bottle for many months and I won't have to worry about bottle bombs.

The spices were definately prominent in the flavor, maybe too much so. It has only been in primary for 9 days, so I expect they will fade and mellow over time. It had a deep, rich aroma from the spices and all the crystal malt. The alcohol was noticable, but not hot. I can certainly see where the term 'barley wine' comes from now. I think this will turn out to be a complex, interesting beer.

The beer hadn't cleared much, it was still pretty cloudy, but it had a nice dark red, mahogany hue. (Sorry, didn't think to take a pic.)

I'll leave it in the primary for a total of 3 - 4 weeks, then rack to secondary and leave it there for another 3 - 4 weeks. I'll then bottle it and set it aside until Christmas. Of course, I'll have to taste them along the way...maybe 4th of July, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, just to see how its coming along.
 

balto charlie

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 17, 2005
Messages
883
Reaction score
40
Location
Md
Beerthoven, nice mash tun. I have an old Gott that says TERPS on it. i know one of the coaches. Mine is only 5 gallons but always like to use it ESPECIALY tonight when the ACC tourney begins. Let the best best team win except for dook:rockin:
GO terps
 
OP
B

Beerthoven

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
2,173
Reaction score
38
Location
Cary, NC
balto charlie said:
Beerthoven, nice mash tun. I have an old Gott that says TERPS on it. i know one of the coaches. Mine is only 5 gallons but always like to use it ESPECIALY tonight when the ACC tourney begins. Let the best best team win except for dook:rockin:
GO terps
I'm an ABC (Anybody But Carolina). SWMBO usually pulls for Clemson, but they typically suck.
 
OP
B

Beerthoven

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
2,173
Reaction score
38
Location
Cary, NC
Bottled on Saturday, April 5 after 2 weeks in secondary (and 3 in primary). Yield = 50 bottles. Primed with 3/4 cup corn sugar.

The beer is wonderfully clear, dark brown in color with red and orange tones.

The clove and orange come through clearly but the cinnamon is not noticable. The clove flavor and aroma is pronounced, but it has decreased some since I racked to secondary. I was a bit worried then that the clove would be too strong. I expect this beer will mellow into something really nice for this Holiday season.

I'll open the first one on my birthday, in May. I'll try to remember to take a pic.
 

hopsalot

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2007
Messages
1,553
Reaction score
18
Location
Corpus
how long do christmas ales usually take? I would think the spices would need ample time to age and mellow
 
OP
B

Beerthoven

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
2,173
Reaction score
38
Location
Cary, NC
hopsalot said:
how long do christmas ales usually take? I would think the spices would need ample time to age and mellow
This is the first spiced beer I've ever made. I've read and heard that spices do take time to mellow, which is why I brewed it in March for drinking in December. Hopefully that will be enough time. I'll post my tasting notes here. I'm also going to cellar some for Christmas 2009 and 2010.

My 2009 Winter Warmer will be bigger and will also be spiced. I'm going to brew it earlier, like in January, for Christmas 2009.
 
OP
B

Beerthoven

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
2,173
Reaction score
38
Location
Cary, NC
OK, impatience got the better of me and I opened one of these tonight. Total elapsed time = 66 days, 31 days in the bottle (3 days in the fridge). Some impressions...

Pour/Aesthetic: Head is 1/8" and dissipates quickly. No lacing left on the glass. There are many bubbles rising from the bottom of the pint glass, so its carbonated enough. Clear, even cold right out of the fridge. Beautiful amber, red color.

Aroma: Strong aroma of clove, followed by orange, then dark fruit. No hop aroma discernible at all. Quite nice.

Palate: Strong flavor of clove, followed by orange, caramel, and dark fruit...raisin or plum. Malt flavors are present but subdued. No hop flavor at all. Nicely bittered, just enough to balance the sweetness. Alcohol creates a noticeable warmth, but not hot at all.

Overall Impression: I am quite happy with this beer. All of the flavors work together to make for a very nice spiced holiday beer, but I do hope the clove subsides to let the other flavors come through more. I have satisfied my curiosity and can now happily let this beer sit and condition until my next tasting on Thanksgiving. I'll be very curious to see how it compares at that time.
 

Hoosierbrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2008
Messages
812
Reaction score
19
Location
Muncie, IN
OK, impatience got the better of me and I opened one of these tonight. Total elapsed time = 66 days, 31 days in the bottle (3 days in the fridge). Some impressions...

Pour/Aesthetic: Head is 1/8" and dissipates quickly. No lacing left on the glass. There are many bubbles rising from the bottom of the pint glass, so its carbonated enough. Clear, even cold right out of the fridge. Beautiful amber, red color.

Aroma: Strong aroma of clove, followed by orange, then dark fruit. No hop aroma discernible at all. Quite nice.

Palate: Strong flavor of clove, followed by orange, caramel, and dark fruit...raisin or plum. Malt flavors are present but subdued. No hop flavor at all. Nicely bittered, just enough to balance the sweetness. Alcohol creates a noticeable warmth, but not hot at all.

Overall Impression: I am quite happy with this beer. All of the flavors work together to make for a very nice spiced holiday beer, but I do hope the clove subsides to let the other flavors come through more. I have satisfied my curiosity and can now happily let this beer sit and condition until my next tasting on Thanksgiving. I'll be very curious to see how it compares at that time.
What would you change on the recipe if you could? I may brew this next month to let it age.
 
OP
B

Beerthoven

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
2,173
Reaction score
38
Location
Cary, NC
What would you change on the recipe if you could? I may brew this next month to let it age.
I would drop the cinnamon (can't tell it's there), use fresh orange peel instead of the dried stuff from the LHBS, and most importantly use only 1 or 2 whole cloves - not 4.

Good luck. If you brew it, let us know how it comes out.
 

Hoosierbrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2008
Messages
812
Reaction score
19
Location
Muncie, IN
Thanks. I wonder if I dropped a cinnamon stick in the secondary, if it would impart a little spicyness to it
 

Hoosierbrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2008
Messages
812
Reaction score
19
Location
Muncie, IN
SWMBO boils them with cloves to smell up the house. I would think that a short time in boiling water would kill anything bad and not take out all the flavor.
 
OP
B

Beerthoven

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
2,173
Reaction score
38
Location
Cary, NC
I've also heard of people soaking them in a small amount of vodka overnight then adding both the liquid and the stick to the secondary.

I've never added spices to the secondary (only hops), so I can't speak from personal experience.
 
OP
B

Beerthoven

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
2,173
Reaction score
38
Location
Cary, NC
Howd your July 4th taste test go on this?
I didn't try one on the 4th; forgot all about it. Now that you've reminded me, I think I'll try one soon and see if the clove has mellowed out any (I hope so.)
 
OP
B

Beerthoven

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
2,173
Reaction score
38
Location
Cary, NC
This beer is now one year old and aging gracefully. It has a nice 1/4" head that lasts and a deep mahogany color. The spice is definately strong, lots of orange and clove, but not overwhelming. The crystal is starting to come through more now, which I really like, as it works well with the clove.

I'll have at least one whole case around for this coming winter (2009-2010), some of which is stashed in the beer fridge for extended cold conditioning.

If I ever make another spiced ale, I'll use a lot more crystal malt, like in an American Amber, and no cloves. I think I'd like to try ginger, orange, and cinnamon in an ESB or American Amber.

Sorry, no pics because my wife has hid the goddamn camera somewhere. Just imagine a pint of your favorite brown ale, and you'll get the idea.
 

shlegminitism

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
Messages
61
Reaction score
0
Location
Atlanta, GA
Hey, i just stumbled upon this thread. Any more updates on this? I noticed where you said the cinnamon didn't come through and it made me wonder about the quality of the cinnamon. I do a bit of bread baking and i found that the cinnamon sold in bulk at the local health food store is much fresher and has such a better taste and smell than a store brand, even if brand new. No telling how long they sit on the shelf. The same with nutmeg. I found you can get whole nutmeg at some of the mexican/latin american import stores for a great price and just grate it with a small grater or microplane, or ped-egg if you're feeling saucy.

I think i waited too late in the year to make this beer but it looks like a good one to keep in mind. Would love some updates on how it has been since your last post.
Chris
 
Top