It was brew day for me today, and my Christmas Ale is fermenting now. I used the Christmas Ale 2002 recipe from Mr. Beer with a few changes. Anyone else here doing a Christmas brew? I enjoyed some of my pumpkin porter while I prepared this one.
I'm working on a recipe utilizing dried spruce needles harvested earlier this year. I've seen a number of recipes using spruce tips but was unable to acquire any in the spring time so I'm stuck with more mature needles--dried and collected as they fall off the branch.
The idea came after getting hooked on pine-needle tea while camping this summer. I saw Bear Grills steep a sprig of pine in hot water on Man vs. Wild and figured it was worth trying. Liked the result and figured, why not in my brew?
I added half an oz. to a small beer collected as second runnings from an Imperial Stout a brewed a few weeks back. The result is a dark brown ale that boiled down to an original gravity of around 1.050 including half a pound of dark sugar. I bottled yesterday and was pleased with the preliminary result but think I will bump up the amount of pine with my final batch.
Before I brew the final version I'm going to try to make an extract out of some of the pine needles by steeping them in vodka.
On a completely different note, word of warning--do not use clove in brewing. It's a typical Christmas spice, but it's also a good local anesthetic and renders your taste buds useless. Learned this the hard way with a brew a buddy and I made years ago. It tasted great the first swig and then you couldn't really taste anything besides a vague metallic sort of blah.