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Holiday Spiced Ale

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Happy Holidays home brewers! In the "spirits" of the holiday and horrible puns, I'd like to talk about specialty malts that may bring a little cheer to your beer.
I recently brewed up a holiday beer myself, using a couple of specialty malts that you may want to try in your attempts to bring either a classic or unique flavor to your beer. You may find some mixed views on what constitutes the proverbial "Christmas Beer" but in all actuality its really just a beer that inspires what the holiday means to you.
I personally took an Old Ale recipe off the internet and altered it according to what I personally wanted my beer to taste like. The result was something truly unique and very suitable for the holidays.
I used a Chocolate Malt (naturally) and found that this is a fantastic ingredient to work with when brewing up something decadent for the holidays. Its important to not overdo it though, as chocolate malt has no enzymes, which means that it basically offers little fermentable sugars to your beer, however; Chocolate malt offers some really good flavors to beer that make a perfect candidate to try out for a holiday brew. The caramel notes it provides can be coupled with many other spices or malts to give that flavor of cookies,pie, or whatever you fancy in a holiday treat. It offers a nice nutty flavor as well which you may find to be a nice undertone providing it doesn't get snuffed out by other flavors. Apart from the flavors it provides, it also contributes a very earthy brown color to your wort. I like the deepness it brought to my mash. It reminded me of rich chocolate treats, and baked goods.

A mint chocolate stout by jrfehon - another great holiday beer
Another specialty malt that I used was Crystal 120. Crystal 120 also imparts caramel flavors to your beer but also brings some interesting sweetness that I describe as almost a burnt sugar flavor. It reminded me of crme brule'. Personally I thought this was a fantastic addition and while it tends to offer a reddish hue to beer, it merely blended with the chocolate malt. Not a problem considering that I was going for dark. Keep in mind though, like I said before, you can do whatever it is you want to. A holiday beer should bring you back to those rare happy moments with family, gathered around and having some laughs. Apart from that, one might consider carefully how to add spices to the beer. This is really your call, but I added ginger, and allspice to the wort and during secondary fermentation I dry hopped cinnamon sticks into it. Due to the molasses I put into the boil, the whole thing taste like a cookie...and I'm pretty happy about that. I have included my recipe in this article so that you can try it out if you want to. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and that this was in some way useful information.

Crystal 120 - image courtesy of Austin Homebrew
Holiday spiced Ale:
OG = 1.0581.063 FG = 1.0151.020
IBU = 30 SRM = 24 ABV = 5.66.2%
Ingredients
6.6 lb. (3.0 kg) pale liquid malt extract (Coopers or More Beer English Extract)
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) dry malt extract
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) crystal malt (60 L)
0.25 lb. (114 g) chocolate malt
7.33 AAU UK Fuggles hops (60 mins)
(1.5 oz./42 g of 5.0% alpha acids)
0.5 oz (14 g) Fuggles hops (15 mins)
Wyeast 1028 (London Ale) or
White Labs WLP013 (London Ale) yeast
0.5 cup corn sugar or dried malt extract (for priming)

Another great Spiced Holiday Ale from The_Pol
 
Did I miss the spices in the ingredient list or article? Just curious, it looks like a delicious old ale, but where is the "Spiced" part of the "Spiced Holiday Ale"?
 
@RmikeVT its in the article, but not listed in the recipe. you must read the same way i do. i always skip to the recipe first. allspice and ginger and cinnamon...also molasses in there as well.
 
I'm somewhat confused. I probably misread the article but it sounded like Crystal 120 was use for brewing but the recipe calls for Crystal 60. Also, because I'm still fairly new at brewing and haven't tried brewing with spices or molasses what would be a good starting point for the amounts of spices for a brew.
 
For spicing I tried a recipe from Gordon Strong, where the technique for spicing is to put them in a sachet for 10 minutes at the end of the boil, then remove. I found that just a week after carbonating (bottle condition 2 weeks, so 3 weeks from bottling) the spices were clearly present but not overpowering, so no need to "age out" the spices.
 
The article talks about one thing, but the recipe seems to be for another. Did I miss some ingredients or amounts? What where the amounts of spices used? What happen to the crystal 120? Somewhat confused :{
 
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