Festive holiday / Christmas beer ideas

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hawkwing

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Looking for ideas for Christmas/holiday beers.

I can’t seem to find a recipe for the St Bernardus Christmas Ale. I’m not sure I’ll be able to buy it either. Will see what comes out at the liquor stores to try.

Not sure about using spices etc or what’s works best for flavors. Hopefully there are some good ideas. Not much came up in a quick search on here so will see what ideas people have.
 
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hawkwing

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It would be a pain to make some smaller batches but it would allow me to try a variety of recipes without having a bunch I don't like. I'd have to bottle them though and bottle carb. Oh well.

I wish I could try making the St. Bernardus Xmas Ale but I can't find a recipe only for the ABT 12. Neither can I find it to do a taste test beforehand. The Belgian beers look interesting with the candi too. I guess I'll have to experiment to get my bearings.

Thanks everyone keep the ideas coming.
 

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My favorite go-to Christmas beer is Sierra Nevada Celebration. Tastes like a malty Christmas tree.

I've never been a fan of spiced beers. I tend to go toward well-made slow sippers. Higher gravity golden ales / old ales / barrel aged, meant to be shared and sipped slow by the fire over good conversation. Maybe a 1.080 golden ale with some oak cubes and 8 oz of bourbon. Very nice.
 
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hawkwing

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My favorite go-to Christmas beer is Sierra Nevada Celebration. Tastes like a malty Christmas tree.

I've never been a fan of spiced beers. I tend to go toward well-made slow sippers. Higher gravity golden ales / old ales / barrel aged, meant to be shared and sipped slow by the fire over good conversation. Maybe a 1.080 golden ale with some oak cubes and 8 oz of bourbon. Very nice.
Doesn’t a Christmas tree taste bad? Is it juniper flavored like gin?

I’m uncertain of spiced beers myself but im going to try one to see. I’ve had beer with orange peel in it and it was good. Can’t remember if there were any spices. It was Maudite or La Fin du Monde. Not sure if I spelled them correctly.
 

TyTanium

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Doesn’t a Christmas tree taste bad? Is it juniper flavored like gin?

I’m uncertain of spiced beers myself but im going to try one to see. I’ve had beer with orange peel in it and it was good. Can’t remember if there were any spices. It was Maudite or La Fin du Monde. Not sure if I spelled them correctly.

Ha, fair question. No, think how a tree smells - sweet pine with subtle citrus. Those same essential oils that are in the tree, alpha & beta pinenes, among many many others, are in the C-hops (Cascade, Chinook, Centennial). It's a piney resinous beer with a solid malt, almost sweet backbone. It's amazing.

On the spices, I think the key is subtlety. Like if you say "whoa this tastes like orange peel" it's too much. Compared to "hmm, is that a little citrus I detect?" Just my preference. And yes, Fin du Monde is world class delicious :)
 
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hawkwing

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Ha, fair question. No, think how a tree smells - sweet pine with subtle citrus. Those same essential oils that are in the tree, alpha & beta pinenes, among many many others, are in the C-hops (Cascade, Chinook, Centennial). It's a piney resinous beer with a solid malt, almost sweet backbone. It's amazing.

On the spices, I think the key is subtlety. Like if you say "whoa this tastes like orange peel" it's too much. Compared to "hmm, is that a little citrus I detect?" Just my preference. And yes, Fin du Monde is world class delicious :)
Are fin du monde and maudite still bottle carbonated and have live yeast in the bottles?
 

bwible

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I’ve never been a fan of the spiced ales. Maybe it comes from the days I used to judge and got stuck with the herb, spice, vegetable beer category too many times. And I despise pumpkin beer too. Just me. Though I did find one bourbon barrel aged pumpkin beer this year I liked.

There’s all kinds of “Christmas” recipes out there from ones with cinammon and nutmeg to spruce beers and all kinds of other flavorings. Maybe I’ve just never been fortunate enough to find one of those I liked. I feel like Dumbledore with the every flavor beans.

When I’ve brewed this kind of recipe in the past its never been received well, especially by non-craft beer drinkers. I remember putting one I made with ginger into a competition and one judge said it reminded him of some kind of cleaning product.

Whenever I’ve had one of these beers, even one considered “good”, I rarely feel like I would want another one. Anytime soon. And if you brew 5 gallons, then you wind up with about 50 of them. Even a 3 gallon batch would make 30.

When I brew for the holidays now I just think about something different I don’t brew often. I brew a barleywine every year at the end of the year and that becomes next year’s to drink. Always have those for Christmas. Kind of in the SamiClaus type of tradition. And I like to have something “regular strength” too. This year I did a Munich Dunkel that I think will be ready for Christmas. I think wood aged beers would be nice, too. I’m thinking about a British Strong ale which I would age on bourbon soaked oak. Whether that would be ready now by Christmas I’m not sure.
 
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bwible

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This is a good read for those interested in using spices. Randy Mosher did a whole thing about making potions. Its in his book “Radical Brewing” and this kind of the Cliff Notes version.


If you want to buy flavoring extracts, this company makes flavorings specifically for alcoholic beverages and has hundreds of flavors to choose from:

 
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bwible

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bwible

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Are fin du monde and maudite still bottle carbonated and have live yeast in the bottles?
Wyeast 3864-PC Canadian/Belgian Ale Yeast

Now I just wonder what brewery this could possibly be from? 🤔 *cough*Unibroue*cough*

PC means Private Collection - it’s a limited availability strain that is only available seasonally when they decide to release it. Like White Labs’ Vault program. They release different PC strains quarterly so you’d have to keep an eye out to see when this ever gets released. It looks like the last time they released it was Sept 2020 / Fall 2020 so it could be due to come around again.

Personally, I’m eyeing that Ayinger strain thats out for this quarter. (Hella-Bock)


 
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hawkwing

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Googling says they bottle condition with another yeast. I’ll have to watch for this yeast. I may have had it before if they were selling it 20 years ago. I probably still have a bottle left. Probably long dead though and no idea what I used in it for sure.
 
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hawkwing

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I did a little more searching on St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. Seems like it’s close to ABT 12 which is apparently identical to Westvleteren 12. One comment was that it was ABT 12 with a bit more cookie taste. I also saw some claims that the brewer said it’s spiced. There is a clone recipe for ABT 12. But I could only guess as to the spices without a taste to get a better idea.

Hopefully a few of these are available at the liquor store in the next few months so I can get a taste and more of an idea for next year.
 
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