Christmas Ale Extract Recipe Brewed Today

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3_Creepio

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It's cold-crashing now. Thought I would take the time, while enjoying a nice SN Torpedo, to share the recipe and see what the HBT experts think it might end up like. It smells awesome.

9.9.lbs. Amber LME, late additions (1/3 at 60, 2/3 at 20)
1 lb. Chocolate Malt, steeped at 150 degrees 30 mins.
1 lb. Crystal 40 Malt, steeped at 150 30 mins.
.5 oz. Columbus Hops at 60 mins.
.5 oz. Columbus Hops at 30 mins.
1 oz. Simcoe Hops at 15 mins.
1 oz. Simcoe Hops at flameout.
Spice Bill (all added at 10 mins.)
1 lb. clover honey
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 bourbon vanilla beans, split
3 clementine peels (discarded at flameout)
Wyeast American Ale 1056, 2-step starter (approx: 370B cells)

OG: 1.082 Target FG: 1.021 ABV approx: 8.01% IBU approx: 55.73

This is my third batch ever. Second if you don't count the kit batch I made first with bad yeast. I read a bunch of Christmas ale recipes and formulated this myself using the calculator at Brewer's Friend. I wanted a Christmas ale that smells like a tree (thus the Simcoe hops) and tastes like presents. As I said up top, it smells amazing, and I'm very excited.

:D
 

dozer5454

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subscribed. You will have to tell me how this turns out. Did you use the beans in the boil?
 
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3_Creepio

3_Creepio

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Yes, they went in with the rest of the spice bill at 10 minutes. I tasted the wort before pitching, and I had my hair blown back.

The only thing I'm worried about right now is the yeast, because it was my first time doing a starter and it bubbled over after the step-up. But I'll know in the next 24-48, I guess.
 

dozer5454

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I've done a ton of starters and step starters. With that beginning yeast count you should be good with that SG.
 

hellawaits77

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That looks (and sounds) like it will make for a great beer! Definitely interested in how it turns out.
 

Johnnyhitch1

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Recipe looks great!
Next time for a late extract addition add 2/3 add flameout.
Will reduce color slighly but more importantly wont caramalize the sugars turning them unfermentable and thus ending at the dreadfull .020 FG

Look forward to tasting notes!
 
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3_Creepio

3_Creepio

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I've done a ton of starters and step starters. With that beginning yeast count you should be good with that SG.
I added a little sanitizer solution to the airlock and it has been bubbling away since around the 30-hour mark (after pitch), so I'm feeling good about it.

Recipe looks great!
Next time for a late extract addition add 2/3 add flameout.
Will reduce color slighly but more importantly wont caramalize the sugars turning them unfermentable and thus ending at the dreadfull .020 FG

Look forward to tasting notes!
From what I understand (in threads around here and elsewhere), you are supposed to add late extract additions in at most the last ten minutes to sterilize the extract properly. I just noticed I typed my late addition originally as 2/3 at 40 minutes, but I actually added it at 20 minutes.

I know what you mean about caramelizing the sugars, however; I read about that, too. But I think I found a way to circumvent the problem.

I scooped all of the LME into a metal mixing bowl early in the morning before the brew, which was nice because it avoided the messy part about adding it during the boil. Then I kept the metal bowl on top of a saucepan with hot water on my stove during the steep/boil, essentially tempering the syrup as if it were solid chocolate. All of my LME additions poured out of the bowl smoothly, allowing me to stir the pot vigorously and avoid the LME from clumping up on the bottom and scorching even a little. A rubber spatula got the last bit out, and there was no waste at all. Nice and easy.

I might be new at brewing, but as a long-time chef I sometimes come up with some good ideas on my own. Still, thanks for the replies. I will definitely be letting everyone know how this turns out!
 
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3_Creepio

3_Creepio

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It's been two weeks and a days and the krausen has not crashed on this beer. The airlock stopped bubbling a while ago, but when pressing down lightly on the bucket lit, a little CO2 does bubble out. I haven't taken a gravity reading yet, and don't plan to until the krausen drops. I expect that to happen soon.

I'm glad I made this beer when I did, however, because after the minimum 3 weeks of bottle conditioning, this will just barely be ready for Christmas.

Not that I wouldn't drink it anyway, even if it wasn't ready by then.
 

ballsy

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Just FYI - most on here have said the temp of wort at flame out is sufficient to kill anything that would be in the extract. If full extract, I follow the 1 lb extract/gallon of wort boiling (always 3-4lbs)for initial addition (hops utilization purposes), and the rest at flame out every time and have yet to get an infection.
 

Hello

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Very interested in how this turns out after only 3 weeks conditioning. Subscribed.
 
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3_Creepio

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It's my impression that bigger beers, like your 1.080 OG, take more conditioning. It may be green at three weeks. But do let us know.
Definitely my intention to try it at 3 weeks no matter what, but I have read this as well.

Just for the sake of discussion, is there a specific way to know if the beer is "green" and needs more conditioning? Is it just carbonation, or something else? The sediment/yeast in a similar gravity beer I already have in bottles has just settled after about two weeks, so that will probably give me a good indication when I try it a week from now.
 

JohnSand

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Off flavors. My heaviest beer was about 8% abv, maybe 1.077 OG iirc. It took 8 weeks before it was good, another 4 before it was really good. Before that it tasted cidery to me. I've read that cidery comes from sugar, but this was an all grain SMaSH. But you'll know green beer when you taste it.
 
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3_Creepio

3_Creepio

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I'm reading Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff's book about yeast and this is specifically covered in their chapter on fermentation.

If anything, homebrewing is teaching me a lot about the value of patience.
 

hellawaits77

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Sounds like it's going smoothly. If I can offer some advice that may allow your beer to be fully conditioned by Christmas:

Once you've determined your FG has been reached and fermentation is done, I'd bottle the next day. That way it can condition and carbonate simultaneously. A lot of guys like the beer to sit on the yeast in the fermenter for a bit before bottling. They certainly aren't wrong, but I think to assure the beer is ready in time, I think quicker bottling would help in this case.
 

hellawaits77

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JohnSand said:
Off flavors.
Yes, this is really the best way to describe green beer. There are a myriad of potential flavors, and as someone already said, you'll know when you taste them! But on the positive side of things, time frequently cures many homebrew issues.
 
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3_Creepio

3_Creepio

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Bottled today. Final Gravity was 1.022, close enough to the calculated FG of 1.021 that I felt comfortable going ahead with it. I primed with 4.5 oz. corn sugar, boiled in a cup of water for ten minutes and then cooled to fermentation temp, dumped in the bottling bucket and racked on top, then gave it a very gentle stir for a few seconds. Everything was very clean and sanitized.

I tasted the gravity reading sample and was very happy. The spice bill is very pronounced, and I'll have to see what it's like when carbed and chilled, but I might draw back on the ground spices a bit next time I make it. There are also some very warm alcohol notes, which is fine for a beer in the 8.1%ABV range, and I'm thinking after being carbed and chilled it will lessen a little bit. A few weeks and I'll have a much better idea.

I made an all-Warrior hop APA yesterday, so my fermentors are still busy and things are as they should be.
 
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3_Creepio

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Tried the first bottle of Christmas Ale today.

Success!

It pours and looks like a stout; very dark, even opaque, even though holding the bottle up to the light I can see through the beer in the neck of the bottle. The head isn't as thick as I would like, but it has a nice brown color from the chocolate malt. It disappears about halfway through, but there is some nice lacing on the side of the glass. The head issue might improve with some more time in the bottle, but I'm okay with it.

The spice bill comes through right away in the aroma. I wouldn't add any more than what I used. It's apparent in flavor but just subtle enough to not overwhelm the other flavors. I'm getting some nice vibes from the three clementine peels that I threw in during the last ten minutes, and I'm glad I pulled them out at flameout because there is no acidity at all.

The only thing I would change might be the hops. I'm a hop-forward beer drinker, but this recipe was designed to be malt-forward, so I'm okay with the IBU. But I specifically used simcoe hops to add some pine character, and I'm not getting any of it at all.

As of right now, when I make this next year, the only thing I would change might be to add another ounce or two of simcoe at the end of the boil. I might even snap off a sprig or two from the pine tree in my neighbor's back yard and throw that in for the last ten minutes, again discarding at flameout as with the clementine peels.

I might also brew it sooner than I did so I can enjoy it for more time during December. Or even make a 10 gallon batch so I can give some to family and friends. It's that good. Best beer I have ever made, which isn't saying a whole helluva lot because it is only my third batch.

Overall I'm very happy. This is a very dark amber, stout-like Christmas ale that has some similarity to Southern Tier's 2XMAS (a lighter, more coppery-colored ale), which is exactly what I was going for. Recipe recommended for others to try or improve.
 
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3_Creepio

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It's my impression that bigger beers, like your 1.080 OG, take more conditioning. It may be green at three weeks. But do let us know.
This has turned out to be pretty good at only three weeks. Granted, I'm only opening it because I wanted it to be ready for Christmas. I have a storng suspicion that this will continue to get better, and will probably even be excellent in two or three more weeks. But as of right now, the 3-week minimum was good enough in a pinch.
 

JohnSand

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That's great! Ironically I just opened a bottle of my Christmas Ale today too. It's Northern Brewer's Brickwarmer Red with one lightly baked cinnamon stick added to the fermenter. It's also dark, ready, and good! Mine was only 19 days bottled, but also only 6%. Merry Christmas!
 

The_Bruster

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I've been searching for a recipe for my holiday brew, and this looks fantastic! I'm glad it worked out for you.
Definitely sounds like more hops could work out; maybe an ounce or two of Sorachi Ace? (Only a little piney, but adds some noticeable lemon/citrus flavors that might complement a spicy beer?)
Might brew it this weekend, as it will give me plenty of time to let it really age before Christmas.
 

The_Bruster

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Ended up brewing 3_Creepio's recipe about 2 weeks ago. I doubled the hops, then added 1oz Brewer's Gold. Substituted bulk Pilsner LME for Amber LME, and a handful of other tiny tweaks; the body still turned out pretty dark; sample looks like coffee with just a hint of milk. Smells like Christmas trees, and has a real bite!

I take small samples weekly to gauge how the flavor is changing. Unlike lighter beers, this one is already quite drinkable. The ginger (I used fresh, not powdered) has a kick, but mellows a little over time, and the vanilla has started to creep in.

Using fresh ginger, and doubling the hops, makes it pretty intense. OG was 1.081. Will draw a real sample next weekend to see if it's ready to bottle. It already tastes awesome. Great recipe!!

Exprct completion In early Dec, just in time for Christmas presents!
 

punkrawkgeek

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I did a recipe... That kind of followed the recipe. I am very excited. I might use a different yeast... May throw in some Safbrew T-58. See what happens... I am excited.
 

HoppyLady

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I tried out your Christmas Ale recipe and although it is still bottle conditioning, I couldn't wait and had to open one after a week. I am so excited! The flavors seem really complex and I'm hoping the carbonation will help thin it out and not make it seem so thick, but it is awesome. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!
 

HoppyLady

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Thanks so much 3_Creepio for sharing this awesome recipe. I had almost the exact same results as you talked about; super rich and lovely but a little more hops on the nose would have made me even happier. I plan on adding some more next time, because I will definitely be making this again next year.
 

The_Bruster

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Update! The only-slightly-modified version I brewed last September debuted the 1st weekend of December at a party. It was f*ing amazing! Definitely the best beer I've ever brewed. Also the most expensive (it cost about $65 for all the ingredients, nearly double what I usually spend on a 5gal batch) but totally worth it. Needless to say, every single bottle I brought to the party disappeared within an hour, and the rest were gone by the 1st weekend in January. I will almost certainly brew it again next year.

While the vanilla and orange did not ever really manifest (maybe another 2-3 months?), the ginger eventually mellowed out, and the hops (nearly doubled from original recipe) gave a wonderful Christmas aroma.

I'm working on a Chocolate Peanut Butter recipe now, and will use this recipe as a guide. Most likely will remain very similar, but with choc & pb powders replacing ginger/allspice/cinnamon. Will post when I refine the recipe a bit. Another major change will probably be the yeast: I moved to a warmer climate and no longer have a basement, so I'll need one designed to ferment around 70-75. This might take a bit of experimentation.

Again, thanks to 3-Creepio for the post!
 
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xjvhj

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subscribed. You will have to tell me how this turns out. Did you use the beans in the boil?
 

The_Bruster

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xjvhj, I scraped the beans, and put the goo into a bag with the rest of the spice bill near the end of the boil. I can't remember if I also tossed the skin in, too -- I probably did, though.

I think I only used 2 whole beans for this 5 gal batch; I will probably double that next time I make this because the vanilla was hardly noticeable. While this particular beer probably doesn't need heavy vanilla, I think it would benefit from more pronounced notes in the background.

The Choco/PB stout will probably be brewed next month. I'll start a new thread, of course, but I'm getting a lot of good advice from threads like these:

All about chocolate
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/what-you-need-know-about-chocolate-brewing-94804/

Emulsification idea for chocolate (hint: make a tea!)
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/chocolate-emulsion-my-crazy-theory-103143/

Choco/pb stout
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/chocolate-peanut-butter-stout-round-two-485287/

The infamous "Chocolate Covered Beavr Nutz"
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/chocolate-covered-beavr-nutz-362380/
 

mwmclelland15

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Interested for those that followed and altered this recipe how long total fermentation was? I usually only use a primary however I feel that if fermentation will be longer than 4 weeks I will use a secondary. Also what yeast?
 

homer383

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Hi. I would like to brew this beer. But I am not sure about the spices amount and their forms.

1/2 tsp. ginger
--> Should I use the fresh ginger, then crush it on small pieces?

1/2 tsp. cinnamon
--> should I use the whole cinnamon and crush it?

1/2 tsp. allspice
--> should this one be crushed? as well

2 bourbon vanilla beans, split
--> this one should be kept as whole piece or crush as well?

3 clementine peels (discarded at flameout)
--> it is not possible for me to get fresh bio clementine (which does not have chemically treated peel) so it is only possible for me to get dried bio orange peel. So I decided to use it as a substitution. How much should I put there? As it is dried and in small pieces, I am not able to distinguish how much is an alternative "3 clementine peels"

An also the important thing - is it really only 1/2 teaspoon for the spices above? I mean - compared to the amount of the wort, will it make any effect in such small amounts?

Thank you for potential hints!
 

CJ-3

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Hi. I would like to brew this beer. But I am not sure about the spices amount and their forms.

1/2 tsp. ginger
--> Should I use the fresh ginger, then crush it on small pieces?

1/2 tsp. cinnamon
--> should I use the whole cinnamon and crush it?

1/2 tsp. allspice
--> should this one be crushed? as well

2 bourbon vanilla beans, split
--> this one should be kept as whole piece or crush as well?

3 clementine peels (discarded at flameout)
--> it is not possible for me to get fresh bio clementine (which does not have chemically treated peel) so it is only possible for me to get dried bio orange peel. So I decided to use it as a substitution. How much should I put there? As it is dried and in small pieces, I am not able to distinguish how much is an alternative "3 clementine peels"

An also the important thing - is it really only 1/2 teaspoon for the spices above? I mean - compared to the amount of the wort, will it make any effect in such small amounts?

Thank you for potential hints!
As this thread is originally from a few years ago the OP may not be getting notifications on it. You may want to send him a private message about his recipe.

With that being said, i would hazard a guess that the spice measurements are in reference to dried powder spices.
The vanilla beans need to be split open and scraped to get the flavor out of the seeds inside. Chopping them up after scraping helps too.
For dried vs fresh peals you may have to wing it and go with your gut feelings or contact the manufacturer for guidance on the ratio of dried vs fresh.
 

homer383

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I decided to use following spices:
1/2 tsp of powder ginger (bought from grocery store)
approx 1/2 tsp if whole cinnamon stick which I crushed with a stick
1/2 tsp of whole allspice, which I crushed in advance with a stick
2 bourbon vanilla beans - each bean split
30g of dried orange peel (I did not get clementine peel)

Above amounts were used for ~13L brew volume (I wanted to make a test brew in advance, that's why I used so small volume). My OG was only 1.072, so much lower than in the original recipe in this thread :( Nevermind, in this stage I could not "fix" it anymore.
I fermented it using Nottingham Ale Yeasts - at 18 degrees Celsius. It fermente 22 days. Last couple of days the fermentation stopped at FG 1.023 (a bit high, but I did not want to wait more as it would not most likely continue anyway).
I bottled it with ~2.5g dextrose per 0.5L and tasted 1 sample after 2 weeks of bottle conditioning at ~20-22 C. I was surprised it was carbonated quite well. The taste is, hm, well - it is different than all other beers I made. I liked it. So I am looking forward to tasting some further samples.
 
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