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Winter Seasonal Beer Christmas Ale (Great Lakes Clone)

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DonnieZ

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Three of us guys in my brew club brewed this recipe - unbeknownst to one another. Our brew cub meets at a bar, and they just happened to have GLCA on tap.

Their two beers came out very true to color as the original. My beer came out much darker. Not stout dark, but pretty close. I also forgot to add 1/2 ounce of bittering hops, so I only used 1Oz Hallertau. OG was 1.07, and FG was 1.010. I only used 1.75 ounces of cubed ginger, yet ginger was a predominant flavor.

Though it didn't come out as true to the original as I'd have liked, my take on this beer took 1st place in our winter warmer / spice beer contest out of ten entrants. Not too shabby.

Now if I only liked spiced beers myself, I'd probably sit back and enjoy one!
 

IslandLizard

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After brewing it 6 weeks ago.

I brewed 3 gallons, not six, and found the cinnamon a bit overpowering, and the ginger not very noticeable.

It's not bad, but it definitely needs adjustment. I am going to brew a couple of gallons of a pale-and-caramel malt beer, with just ginger, and use a clean yeast to mix it in to see if I can re-balance the flavours....

There are different varieties of cinnamon - not sure what mine was, but I wish I had paid more attention...
I've brewed this twice, the last time using a slightly different approach from the first in regards to the spices.

The first time I brewed this time was back in February (!). I tasted the wort throughout the boil to make spice adjustments. Here was my approach and findings:

Cinnamon:
I added 3 cinnamon sticks (.5 oz) at 60' (FW actually).
The "cinnamon" I used was the common reddish, thick bark variety, referred to as Vietnamese or Saigon Cinnamon also known as Cassia. I intentionally used a smaller amount, knowing the potency of it from Indian cooking. I can always add more.
The "cinnamon" (Cassia) flavor was present throughout the boil, and I left it at that. The flavor became deeper, darker during the hour boil.

Ginger:
I added 3/4 oz of fresh thinly sliced ginger root also at FW. The ginger was not noticeable as such so I kept adding .6 oz amounts of ginger at 45', 10' and 5' where the ginger started to appear nicely, but somewhat masked.

Other spices:
Although the recipe did not call for it, I had added some fresh orange peel too, I thought it would help in making it more "seasonal." I now have mixed feelings about doing that, after tasting the finished beer and after bottle aging for up to 9 months. It is very prominent and changes the character of the beer, not in a bad way, just making it too different from the GL original, which I've had on several occasions in Cleveland.

The second time I brewed this (last weekend):
I obtained real Ceylon Cinnamon from WholeFoods Market and added 2 sticks (ground up in coffee grinder) and 3/4 oz freshly grated ginger, both at 30' (not 60'). I could smell the spice during the boil, particularly the cinnamon. But...the hydro sample had no obvious spice notes, whatsoever. I could detect neither cinnamon nor ginger, but there was a background flavor hinting it was more than a regular ale wort. If anything, it tasted like a really, really good tea.

"Dry spicing:"
I'm going to add more of the same spices directly to the primary now fermentation has noticeably subsided, and a few days before kegging/bottling. I'll soak them in vodka for a day or 2 to sanitize and eek out some flavor and aroma.

I'll keep you posted on the progress and outcome.
 

firefly765

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Question on cinnamon sticks:
Do they float, or sink? If I'm adding to the boil and they sink I guess I'll add them to my hop spider to not clog the drain pipe, otherwise I'll just throw them onto the boil.

Thanks.
 

Hello

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They sunk initially for me and eventually came up. I tied unwaxed, flavor-free, dental floss around them to grab them.
 

brewski09

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Any thoughts on the particular spice blends used year to year on this beer? 3 years ago I do t remember it too well. Last year was heavier on the nutmeg, but that's all I can pin down. This year, less nutmeg, but better than previous years overall.
 

akillys

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My friends love GLCA but I'm just getting started in the brewing hobby. Is there a variation of this that I could make using extracts instead of all grain?
 

NJfisher

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Sorry for this Noob post but i am only on all grain batch #3. Mash temp I see is 154, what temp should i sparge at (my other 2 recipes had a mash and sparge temp)? Any helps appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
 

TrustyOlJohnson

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Sorry for this Noob post but i am only on all grain batch #3. Mash temp I see is 154, what temp should i sparge at (my other 2 recipes had a mash and sparge temp)? Any helps appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
You can either add water hot enough to bring the mash tun up to 170, or add 170 degree water. I do the later. Greater than 170 is bad in either situation, but less than wont reduce your efficiency notably, IMO.
 

Snicklefritz

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My HBS doesn't carry WY and didn't have WLP013 in stock. I want to brew this Friday.

Which would be the best substitute? I have WLP001, WLP007 and WY1728 on hand. I'm leaning toward the 007. Should be fairly close I'd think?
 

brewski09

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The wlp013 is London ale so I might go with the Scottish ale (wy1728) because I don't like using the wlp007 personally (it can throw Some funky flavors when it's just a tad high on the temps in my experience).


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Snicklefritz

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I've never had issues with 007 but I also usually ferment in the 60's. I think I'll take your advice. Going to try to drop the mash temp to 153 to make up for the lower attenuation of 1728 to end up at about the same FG
 

Snicklefritz

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Brewed this yesterday after stepping up my 1728 starter a few times since the yeast was from July. Garage smelled wonderful during the boil and hit my numbers dead on. Have krausen and decent fermentation activity going this morning when I woke up. I'm looking forward to this one.
 

Snicklefritz

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I probably should have left the mash temp alone as I hit 85% attenuation with the 1728. I've read that the attenuation can get higher on multiple generation of this strain and this was generation #3 for me. I also may have overpitched. I hit the 1.072 OG dead on but it got all the way down to 1.010. Tasted this while racking to keg last night and its very close to the real thing. Can't wait for this to carb up.
 

thadeus_d3

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Just pulled a double-brew day today and brewed this one. I live in Cleveland, so I'm very excited for a side by side comparison around the holidays!
 

Esmitee

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This will be the 4 year in a row I;m brewing this Outstanding Beer (CLONE).....cause the way mine turns out, I think my beers are Great Lakes Christmas ale beer's "BROTHERS" I always buy a 12 pack of GLCA to compare and have a taste test with a few friends. We all agree it's just about the same beer, if not better! This year, I have 2 flip top bottles left over from last years brew. Cant wait to taste these against GLCA and this coming batch. I know they will kick ASS.
I've been brewing it as Two Hearted the OP has out lined from the start of this thread,
At the end of the boil, about 5 minuted before flame out, I;ll start the whirlpool going and at flame out I'll add the 2 lbs of honey and also add the cinnamon sticks and the fresh ginger that I slice as fine as I can and chop up into as small pieces as possible and also chop up the cinnamon sticks to almost crushed and dump all that in a mesh bag. I leave the bag in until all the wort has been transferred to the fermentors .

This years batch I will be adding 1 scraped and Cut and vanilla bean to each carboy, and a small PINCH of nutmeg to each as well.

I'll keg all of the 10 gallons except for about 15 flip top bottles, Im gona try putting a candy cane <Im thinking the Fruity ones, Not the all Peppermint ones> in each bottle like someone suggested above,,,,,we;ll see how that turns out? Wish me luck! Have a Merry Christmas ! :mug::mug::mug:
 

thadeus_d3

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Just pulled a double-brew day today and brewed this one. I live in Cleveland, so I'm very excited for a side by side comparison around the holidays!
Taste wise, they were very similar to one another. Many folks couldn't pick the genuine article from the clone. The difference was with aroma. GL smell a bit spicier than my beer and I liked the aroma more. I will definitely be making this later in the year.
 

brewski09

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Taste wise, they were very similar to one another. Many folks couldn't pick the genuine article from the clone. The difference was with aroma. GL smell a bit spicier than my beer and I liked the aroma more. I will definitely be making this later in the year.

They vary the spices year to year and the last few years have seemed to tilt towards more nutmeg.
 

thadeus_d3

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Finally brewed this today. Upped the ginger slightly and added an extra cinnamon stick (10g batch). I also went with WLP500 instead of London Ale yeast. Hope it turns out as good, or better, than last years delicious batch.
 

mbtech

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Finally brewed this today. Upped the ginger slightly and added an extra cinnamon stick (10g batch). I also went with WLP500 instead of London Ale yeast. Hope it turns out as good, or better, than last years delicious batch.
Hey Thad! Would you mind sharing your latest recipe along with any primary or secondary additions? I have requests to make a Christmas Ale with nutmeg notes, and I'm trying to decide which direction to go. Thanks! :mug:
 

thadeus_d3

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Hey Thad! Would you mind sharing your latest recipe along with any primary or secondary additions? I have requests to make a Christmas Ale with nutmeg notes, and I'm trying to decide which direction to go. Thanks! :mug:
Hello. I used the same grain bill as the OP, but upped the ginger to 2.8oz and used WLP500 only because because that's what I had on hand (I didn't feel like going to the homebrew shop). I made 10 gallons of the original recipe last year and it was very good.
 

thadeus_d3

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2 months in and it's incredible. I think I prefer WLP500 over London Ale yeast, but it's great either way.
 

ikaris

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Made this at 1st go round OG was at 1.060. I hope that it will not affect the final product. Local Brew store out of yeast so ended up using a dry english ale yeast, Safale 04. What does anyone else think.
How did this beer turn out. My OG was the same as yours but I used WLP London Ale Yeast
 
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