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Winter Seasonal Beer Great Lakes Christmas Ale Clone

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brewprint

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Great lakes claims that it's the original recipe & hasn't changed. I like it-it's uncomplicated and that's why it's popular, in addition to being one of the first of it's kind. 12 dogs is good, too, but stronger & spicier. Really my favorite is Jubelale.
If it hasn't changed then why does the abv change?
 

rmyurick

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I'm not aware that it has changed. Seems like it's been 7.5% s far back as I remember. I've never asked Tim Rastetter if he created the recipe, but I think it predates his time at Great Lakes.
 

cjbalough

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Haven't had it yet this year, but last year I wasn't super crazy for the great lakes Christmas ale early in the season, but liked it much more by Christmas and in winter... Thinking it improved with a bit of age....we'll see this weekend as it's a personal tradition to sip a couple as i put up the Christmas decorations....I really want to try a clone, but can't seem to work it in at the right time
 

sleewok

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I just brewed an 11 gallon batch today. 2oz of ginger cubed and 2.5oz of cinnamon sticks (8 sticks). I also added 1/2tsp of nutmeg with 10 min left in the boil. It was very fragrant during the boil. I hope i didn't overdo the cinnamon. Based on what I read i should be okay! I'll post back my results.
 

pola0502ds

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I'm not aware that it has changed. Seems like it's been 7.5% s far back as I remember. I've never asked Tim Rastetter if he created the recipe, but I think it predates his time at Great Lakes.

It use to be much more that 7.5, i remember it being 9 at one point.
 

MMJfan

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It use to be much more that 7.5, i remember it being 9 at one point.
This. It was much stronger back when it was first released which is in part what made it so popular. Great Lakes couldn't keep up with demand.

I remember having to get on a waiting list for a case from our local liquor store!


That is no longer the case today as I think they have overpriced themselves. No way am I paying $12 for a six pack of what I consider to be a watered down version of what it used to be...
 

brewprint

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The first time that I had it I specifically remember it being 8.1%. That was around 5 years ago.

There was also a rumor going around that they slightly change their recipe every year so that no one could duplicate it.

Either way it's no longer a solid beer imho.
 

jeff62217

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Heating strike water for this at the moment. Probably too late to be ready for Christmas, hopefully will be bottle conditioned by new years.
 

MMJfan

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Heating strike water for this at the moment. Probably too late to be ready for Christmas, hopefully will be bottle conditioned by new years.
I think you should be ok to have this ready by xmas. I brewed my first batch back on November 8th and I was enjoying my first bottles this weekend! :mug:
 

jeff62217

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I think you should be ok to have this ready by xmas. I brewed my first batch back on November 8th and I was enjoying my first bottles this weekend! :mug:
Do you secondary with additional ginger/cinnamon? I guess without that it'd be ready in time, but to me the additional time on the spices really makes this beer.
 

cjbalough

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Gave in and tried a 6 of the Thirsty dogs to sip while decorating the house......waste of $12....simply too sweet for me. Not too crazy about the nutmeg......but at least it doesn't have that nasty orange flavor of some others.... I'll stick to great lakes and hopefully will brew a clone next year.
 

brewprint

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Gave in and tried a 6 of the Thirsty dogs to sip while decorating the house......waste of $12....simply too sweet for me. Not too crazy about the nutmeg......but at least it doesn't have that nasty orange flavor of some others.... I'll stick to great lakes and hopefully will brew a clone next year.
It's interesting to me that you like Great Lakes over 12 dogs. We each have our own taste I guess.
 

depper

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Do you secondary with additional ginger/cinnamon? I guess without that it'd be ready in time, but to me the additional time on the spices really makes this beer.

I used a secondary for mine just to help clear it more. I did not put any additional ginger or cinnamon in the secondary. When I tasted mine after a couple of weeks after brewing it had a very strong spice taste. After 4 months sitting in a keg it has blended together perfectly! Still a spice taste but not like it was at first. Better over time, at least in my case. Good luck and enjoy!
 

rmyurick

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Found this article where Tim gives a summary of the genesis of 12 Dogs and his experience at GLBC:

http://www.clevelandmagazine.com/ME...19&tier=4&id=D6CACAC6C4EB4D218AADEB3486207F6D

Also saw a thread on beeradvocate where it was discussed that it was stronger the first year or couple of years. They referred to it as "Christmas Jail", since brewers were getting stopped on the way home for DUI. I do remember one year when I had a 22 oz. glass of it & don't remember anything after that. That was at least 12 years ago.
 

MMJfan

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Do you secondary with additional ginger/cinnamon? I guess without that it'd be ready in time, but to me the additional time on the spices really makes this beer.
I don't secondary any of my beers. If I'm not dry hopping, I'm usually bottling around 10-14 days after I pitch the yeast.

For this, I boil the spices for the entire 60 minute boil and then I let them steep while the wort cools but discard them before I rack to my fermenting bucket. I get plenty of flavor coming from the cinnamon and ginger without adding any more post fermentation.

I also find that the flavors mellow too much for my liking over time so I like it fresh! That's just me though...
 

sleewok

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Just picked up a six of this for $8.99. Honestly I'm not impressed. Cinnamon and ginger are nice, but it really feels lacking in the spice. I'm planning to add clove and/or allspice and nutmeg in secondary now.
 

rmyurick

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Yeah, it's not a spice bomb, but I think that's by design. They certainly sell a lot of it.
 

sleewok

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Agreed. My spice bomb last year was hit or miss depending on the person. I can taste how this be would appeal to a wider audience. I'll probably just bottle up some before I drop the bomb :).
 

scooterm

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Just picked up a six of this for $8.99. Honestly I'm not impressed. Cinnamon and ginger are nice, but it really feels lacking in the spice. I'm planning to add clove and/or allspice and nutmeg in secondary now.
When I brew my version of this, I add clove (1) and allspice (1 tsp). I also grate my ginger root (1 tsp) and only do 10 minutes in the boil.
 

rmyurick

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May be slightly off-topic, but GL now brews a seasonal spiced version of their porter (Edmund Fitzgerald). This year it's available in 22-oz bottles; it's called "Winter Fitz". Last year, I got a growler and it was pretty good (I think they were only doing kegs last year)--they were calling it "Fitzmas".
 

ericbw

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GL is better or worse from year to year. It's supposed to be that way. 4 years ago, it sold out pretty quick. This year is good I think.

12 dogs is OK. Just OK.

Shiner Holiday Cheer is a winner for everyday drinking!
 

ballsy

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SN Celebration is an IPA so it's supposed to be hoppy. I brew a clone of that as well because I like IPA's and it's a good IPA.

Christmas Ale is a winter warmer and isn't supposed to be real hoppy. The spices are supposed to be what shines thru more than the hops in Christmas Ale.
Your right, I was keeping in line with "Holiday" beers which Celebration ale is along with Christmas ales/winter warmers. I've never been a fan of malty spiced up beers so wanted to tweak this to my taste. A lot of beers have a "normal" and a hopped up version of them so just went for that here.
 

MMJfan

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GL is better or worse from year to year. It's supposed to be that way. 4 years ago, it sold out pretty quick. This year is good I think.

12 dogs is OK. Just OK.

Shiner Holiday Cheer is a winner for everyday drinking!
I agree with you about 12 Dogs. It's OK, but I could do without the nutmeg they add to it.

As for GL's Christmas Ale, it may be a good year, but I just don't think it's worth the $12.99 I have to drop for a 6'er of it especially when I have my own version I brew for about 1/4 of the cost which I think is way better anyways! :fro:

Oh, and sorry, but I'm not a fan of the Shiner Holiday Cheer at all...
 

MMJfan

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Your right, I was keeping in line with "Holiday" beers which Celebration ale is along with Christmas ales/winter warmers. I've never been a fan of malty spiced up beers so wanted to tweak this to my taste. A lot of beers have a "normal" and a hopped up version of them so just went for that here.
No worries. I'm a hop head so I have no problem with adding more hops to any beer!!!

Just my personal preference on this recipe is to let the spices shine as it gets me in the Holiday spirit even more! But that's the beauty of homebrewing is that we can all tweak any recipe to better suit our own personal preferences!

Cheers! :mug:
 

jeff62217

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Just got done bottling 5 gallons of this today, after 5 days in secondary. 1.08 down to 1.012.. will crack one open on NYE for testing purposes.
 

ericbw

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Just brewed up 10 gallons of this bad boyView attachment 372414
Good thing you have giant blow off tubes! Have you made this one before? I'm thinking about doing it (or something very similar). I love GL most years. As people say, some years are better than others, but I think it's varying degrees of good, never bad.
 

fvirzi

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Ya I make it every year. I like it better then Great Lakes. Go light on the ginger is my advice. I just cut a small peeled chunk and throw it in with the cinnamon for 60 min.
 

Badam

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Just brewed this up today. Very excited to see how it turns out! I followed the 1st post to a T, adding a little extra 2-row to make up for efficiency.

Thank you for the recipe! :mug:
 

JPHussey

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Any idea what the efficiency for the original post was? I have an electric setup with ~82% brewhouse efficiency in BeerSmith and if I just straight double all ingredients I end up at 1.093....

So...should I reduce just the pale and special roast? Should I double the honey? Anyone got tips for scaling this recipe up?

*EDIT* Nevermind...turns out 8lbs of special roast should have been 8 ounces...!
 

JPHussey

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**Update - Great Lakes changed the IBU's for this beer from 40 to 30**


10.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US 73.64 %
1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L 7.36 % (they use 45L, but i could only find 40L)
1.00 lb Wheat Malt 7.36 %
0.25 lb Special Roast 1.84 %
0.08 lb Roasted Barley 0.59 %

Cascade (60 min) 27 IBU
Hallertauer (10 min) 3 IBU

2 Cinnamon Stick (boil 60.0 min) Misc
1. oz Ginger Root (boil 60.0 min) Misc
1.25 lb Honey (Flame out) Sugar 9.20 %
1 Pkgs London Ale (Wyeast Labs #1028) Yeast-Ale

Beer Profile

Original Gravity: 1.075
Final Gravity: 1.018
Alcohol by Vol: 7.53 %
30.0 IBU
11.6 SRM C


Mash Profile

60 min 154.0 F
I brewed a 10G batch of this recipe this weekend. I followed everything exactly here except I doubled it all ;). I did probably end up with about 1.5-1.75oz of ginger as some of it was going bad.

Used 3.6 oz of 4.7% AA Cascade for 27 IBUs on the dot.

I didn't know what to expect with the cinammon sticks and ginger, but holy moly was this a fragrant boil. A woman from the neighborhood stopped by and was professing how wonderful it smelled outside the garage.

O.G. came out to about 1.072 or 1.073, so pretty spot on.

Anxious to try it out!
 

MMJfan

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I didn't know what to expect with the cinammon sticks and ginger, but holy moly was this a fragrant boil. A woman from the neighborhood stopped by and was professing how wonderful it smelled outside the garage.

O.G. came out to about 1.072 or 1.073, so pretty spot on.

Anxious to try it out!
This is my favorite beer to brew from a fragrance perspective! One that my wife doesn't mind if I brew it inside even!

I'm planning on brewing up my first batch of this in the next week or so. :mug:
 

JPHussey

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Took about two weeks for it to reach F.G. of 1.017 or so. Crash cooling with gelatin and keggin this weekend!
 

rmyurick

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This is a very enjoyable beer. Haven't had the Great Lakes beer so can't compare. As is I would brew it again. I did a little tasting review and a couple of photos on my site. https://keaneshomebrew.com/2018/02/05/great-lakes-christmas-ale-clone/
I've drunk many bottles of the original. I've found that grating a little fresh cinnamon on top of a glassful gives a nice boost to the aroma. Some people in our area eschew it for x or y, but it's really balanced and drinkable. Spices are not overpowering.

Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Home Brew mobile app
 

brewman !

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I'm thinking of brewing this, unless someone has a better recipe for a different clone.

How would it taste with some Maris Otter in it ? 50/50% with the pale ? Or 100% MO ?
 
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