Winter Seasonal Beer Christmas Ale

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jtratcliff

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Recipe Type
All Grain
Yeast
Wyeat 1968 London ESB
Yeast Starter
2 liter
Batch Size (Gallons)
6
Original Gravity
1.060
Final Gravity
1.017
Boiling Time (Minutes)
60
IBU
27
Color
16
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp)
7
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp)
14
Tasting Notes
malty with subtle spices
Fermentables

Pale Malt (2 Row) US 10 lb 2.0 srm
Crystal Malt - 80L 1 lb 80.0 srm
Black (Patent) Malt 2. oz 500.0 srm
Special B Malt 2 oz 160.0 srm

Honey 1 lb 1.0 srm
Molasses 4 oz 80.0 srm


Hops

Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus FWH 19 IBU
Hallertau 20.000 min 8 IBU


Misc

Ginger Root 1.000 oz 10.000 min
Orange Zest 0.500 oz 10.000 min
Cinnamon Stick 2 sticks 10.000 min
Allspice (whole) 0.500 tsp 0.000 s

Vanilla Beans Secondary 2 beans 5-14 days
Yeast

Wyeast - London ESB Ale 1968

Notes
Modified from original recipe that came from this thread:

[relinked to the actual existing thread -mod 2020/11/11]

Instructions

Mash at 154.400 F for 60 min.
60 minute boil.
Add Cinnamon, Orange Zest, Ginger Root to boil for last 10 min.
Add honey, molasses and Allspice at flameout.

Add Vanilla Beans after end of primary (~7days) and let sit for a little longer (5-14 days)


Best after conditioning for about a month.
 
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NTXBrauer

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How far along are you with this recipe? Did you just start it recently?
 
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jtratcliff

jtratcliff

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I brewed it last year and gave it away as christmas gifts. It got good reviews from the giftees. I really liked it because it has a nice malty backbone and the spices, while present and noticeable, aren't overdone and in your face.

I just brewed it for the second time a couple weeks ago and it's sitting in the fermenter now.
 
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jtratcliff

jtratcliff

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I brewed it pretty closely as written above. Last year I used dried ginger, this year I used fresh chopped ginger root.

I also have gotten busy and neglected it this year. It's still in the fermenter. I added the vanilla beans late as well... perhaps after 3 weeks in primary. Not by design but by distraction :) . I need to bottle this batch soon.
 

cfdmedic5

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How long do you sit this beer after bottling


Sent from my iPad using Home Brew
 
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jtratcliff

jtratcliff

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It needs a little bit of time for the spices to come together. I'd give it at least a month after it's carbed... So maybe 6-7 weeks after bottling?
 

tlucarelli

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Newbie here...looking to brew this up for Christmas. I was looking for something with a Belgian yeast though. Do you think that would be too much for this beer?
 

z-bob

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Newbie here...looking to brew this up for Christmas. I was looking for something with a Belgian yeast though. Do you think that would be too much for this beer?
I'm about to start something very similar to this recipe for Christmas, without the spices, and use a Belgian yeast.

I hope it's drinkable by Christmas, if not... Easter Ale! :)
 
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jtratcliff

jtratcliff

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Should be ready by Christmas... especially w/out the spices. It's mostly 2-row with a little crystal 80, black patent, and special b for color and bit more holiday flavor. Nothing too "out there" that should need a ton of time. The melding of the spice flavors is what takes the longest.

Never really used a belgian yeast strain so I'm no help on that front.
 

tlucarelli

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I'm about to start something very similar to this recipe for Christmas, without the spices, and use a Belgian yeast.

I hope it's drinkable by Christmas, if not... Easter Ale! :)

Do you think it's too much to keep the spices in tact and just switch to Belgian yeast? What are you doing differently otherwise?
 

tlucarelli

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Should be ready by Christmas... especially w/out the spices. It's mostly 2-row with a little crystal 80, black patent, and special b for color and bit more holiday flavor. Nothing too "out there" that should need a ton of time. The melding of the spice flavors is what takes the longest.

Never really used a belgian yeast strain so I'm no help on that front.

Thanks man. I think the London yeast may be adding a more bitter taste than the sweetness of a Belgian yeast. Does that sound about right to you? Or you're not sure since you haven't used Belgian yeast?
 

ericbw

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Belgian is usually "funky," even if only a little. Or a little spicy. Do you like that? Or you prefer sweet?
 
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jtratcliff

jtratcliff

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Here's what Wyeast has to say about 1968

A very good cask conditioned ale strain, this extremely flocculant yeast produces distinctly malty beers. Attenuation levels are typically less than most other yeast strains which results in a slightly sweeter finish. Ales produced with this strain tend to be fruity, increasingly so with higher fermentation temperatures of 70-74°F (21-23° C). A thorough diacetyl rest is recommended after fermentation is complete. Bright beers are easily achieved within days without any filtration.
 
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jtratcliff

jtratcliff

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and as I mention in a PM to tlucarelli, Wyeast does recommend their 1388 Belgian strong for Christmas Ales:

https://www.wyeastlab.com/hb_yeaststrain_detail.cfm?ID=128
The classic choice for brewing golden strong ales. This alcohol tolerant strain will produce a complex ester profile balanced nicely with subtle phenolics. Malt flavors and aromas will remain even with a well attenuated dry, tart finish. This strain is prone to stalling at approximately 1.035; racking or slight aeration will encourage it to finish fermentation.
 

z-bob

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and as I mention in a PM to tlucarelli, Wyeast does recommend their 1388 Belgian strong for Christmas Ales:

https://www.wyeastlab.com/hb_yeaststrain_detail.cfm?ID=128
I'll be using Wyeast 1762 for mine, it just came in the mail today.
It's not the same recipe, just pretty close; mostly 2-row, with some Munich, Special B, and amber candi. I'm trying to brew about a 7.6% dubbel, just a little darker than the style should be.

I have no idea what i'm doing, just jumping in with both feet. :mug: I wasn't sure I even liked Belgian beers, but I've tried a few recently and they're growing on me. A nice departure from IPA's.
 
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jtratcliff

jtratcliff

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I'm not a huge fan of saisons or wits so I haven't delved into those as far as homebrew goes. I do enjoy Fat Tire, so I'll eventually get around to Belgian ambers.

SWMBO is German, so I lean that way when trying something new.

But reading some of the descriptions of the Belgian yeast strains, I'm sure they'll work just fine. Spicy, fruity, etc. should go OK with this grain bill. And as long as you don't ferment too warm, the recipe spices won't be overwelmed.

If you're omitting the spices, even that won't be a problem.

You can also easily swap out the hops. I chose CTZ as a bittering hop because I had it on hand and its high AA% means less needed. I chose Hallertau because I had it and for it's earthy herbal nature.

Very easily swap in a neutral bittering hop like magnum or warrior. For the flavor addition any earthy, herbal hop should work. Even piney will work for a Christmas Ale, I would imagine. It's not a lot of IBUs or even much hop flavor. No hop aroma to speak of.
 

ericbw

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I don't think Fat Tire uses a Belgian yeast. But it should be fine, if you avoid the saison and Trappist strains. Ferment on the cool side. I would probably use American/Chico yeast, or a "normal" British (s-04, WLP002, etc.).
 
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jtratcliff

jtratcliff

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tlucarelli

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This I think has become a moot point for me as the next beer after this one that I want to brew also uses London ESB. So I'll probably just stick with that yeast and try to re-use for the next batch too.

Appreciate the help and the research though everyone. Thanks!
 

tlucarelli

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I brewed this one today. My first all grain and my efficiency was terrible. I figured out what I was doing wrong in my sparge process but that doesn't get my beer up higher than a 1.046 OG. Ugh.

Outside of that though I followed the recipe as close as I could. LHBS didn't have London ESB yeast after all so I went with Belgian strong 1388. I also had a hard time getting my mash temp right so I ended up mashing around 152. The sample I tasted was amazing though so I am very happy with the results so far, even if the abv is going to be really low.

I'm thinking about brewing this again possibly next weekend to try to get the right efficiency. Then I can give this batch away as Christmas presents ha. Really enjoyed the recipe thus far
 
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jtratcliff

jtratcliff

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Glad you're liking it so far.

Folks really seemed to enjoy it when I gave it as Christmas gifts.

I've got everything on hand am getting ready to brew it again soon. Let us know how the Belgian yeast turns out.
 

tlucarelli

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Will do. How long do you try to keep it in bottles before you taste? I would think the longer this one sits the better it tastes.
 
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jtratcliff

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I'm impatient, so I start sampling after only 1 week. It's almost always still flat and green tasting but I can't help myself. :). I tell myself that it's so I'll learn how carbonation develops and how bottle conditioning impacts flavor... But those reasons are really only secondary ... I'm just impatient.

but if you're the patient type, then 3 weeks at 70F to carb then another 3-4 weeks for the spices to fully meld.

For me it's usually the final few bottles that are just starting to taste fantastic
 

tlucarelli

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Pretty sure that's how mine will be haha. And the wort tasted so good I'm sure I'm going to have a really hard time waiting. Would love to bring some with me back to Orange County for Christmas though. Second batch it is...
 
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jtratcliff

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All this talk about it, I had to make it today... I used fuggles as the 20min hop addition since I didn't have any Hallertau handy. I had an old, open bag of already crushed Special B in the freezer, so I used 4 oz of that instead of the 2 oz called for. Fresh grated ginger. 1/2 TBSP of allspice berries.

I was gonna try to use some rinsed Irish Ale yeast but it smelled a little off, so I went with a 1st generation rinsed Nottingham from this past July instead. 1/2 gallon Real-Wort starter (RWS) on a stir plate. Overnight-chill (no-chill) in the kettle. Will pitch entire starter tomorrow.

Pre-boil SG: 1.046
post-boil OG 1.061

Very yummy wort.... Seems like a keeper so far :)
 

tlucarelli

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So just wanted to follow up here - I brewed this one twice. The first one was my first ever all grain, and I thought I realized what I did wrong, then after taking my gravity readings of my 2nd batch, I realized I still hadn't perfected my mash tun yet. Anyway, I gave away about a case of the 1st one and will bring about 18-24 on the plane with me back to CA tomorrow for Christmas.

I've done a couple tastings of both so far, and the 1st one everyone absolutely loves (they just wish it had higher ABV). The second one is still maturing a bit, but it is tasting great too. Here's what I did:

Christmas Ale #1
Followed the recipe exactly, except used Fuggle at the 20 min mark (instead of Hallertau, and used Belgian strong Wyeast instead of the London ESB. Also used 3 vanilla beans but only in vodka for 1 week.
Boiled: 11/2/2014 OG: 1.046
Transferred to secondary: 11/8/2014 (added vanilla beans) OG: 1.014
Bottled: 11/21/2014 FG: 1.012 (4.46%)

Christmas Ale #2
Re-used the Belgian strong yeast from the first batch, then used Tettnang for the 20 min hop. Again used 3 vanilla beans, in vodka only for 1 week. The difference on this one is that I realized earlier that my OG was off again (I watched a lot of mashing videos after this batch :)), so I added one extra lb of honey. Maybe not right the move in retrospect, but I wanted to get over 6%.
Boiled: 11/9/2014 OG: 1.055
Added vanilla: 11/18/2014 OG: 1.01 (chose not to transfer to secondary)
Bottled: 12/2/2014 FG: 1.006 (6.43%)

So at this point the first Christmas Ale has been in bottles about 4 weeks and the 2nd one has been in bottles just under 3 weeks. Everyone loves tasting these 2 side by side to see the difference. The first one is tasting unbelievable and the 2nd one you can tell is just not quite ready yet, but that doesn't stop us from drinking it.

Cheers for a great recipe and I can't wait to do this one again next year!
 

tlucarelli

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So, just wanted to follow up once more - I've had extremely high reviews of this beer. I noticed that batch #2 came out good, but I figured out that I over-pitched my yeast, which led to some really high overcarbonation and some off flavors that I could have prevented by being a little smarter.

For those who tried batch #2 a little earlier on, they loved it too but for those who waited a bit...I'm hoping the bottles don't explode! From my own personal standpoint, the 1st batch was my favorite beer that I've ever brewed. It was delicious!!
 
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jtratcliff

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Glad it turned out well for you... The batch I gave as gifts were well received, too. I'm hoarding the last few that I have left.

Over pitching shouldn't lead to bottle bombs... too much priming sugar might, though. Batch 2 might just need more
conditioning time. Sometimes you can get gushers if the C02 hasn't fully gone into solution yet. The may be just right
with another week in the fridge.

or, you know...

kablooie... better drink 'em fast :)
 

tlucarelli

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I think probably fermentation hadn't completely finished yet and I added priming sugar to that mix. I threw my remaining ones in the fridge and will try in a few days to see if that helped. I clearly still have a lot to learn about yeast and fermentation...haha
 
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jtratcliff

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Looks like, from the dates you give above, that you had plenty of time in the fermenter... 11/9 to 12//2. Should've been done by then. FG looks plenty low enough, too.

Might just be conditioning time and/or temperature. A week in the fridge might fix 'em right up.
 

luckybeagle

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Can anyone out there in HBT land share with me their experience of brewing this one with 1388, specifically? I've got 1388 slurry from a Dubbel that I need to put to use and this sounds fantastic. It sounds like some folks were contemplating this strain earlier when this threat was started. Hoping to revive a discussion on this to learn how it all went, temperature schedule, overall impressions, etc :)
 
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jtratcliff

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I'm about ready to start another batch of this myself... So if you try it it w/ 1388 let us know... I feel that that the maltiness and spices work even w/ a relatively neutral yeast... So a flavorful belgian should only add to the mix... better or worse is your call :)

I'm not a fan of Belgian ales, so I have no real basis for judgement

It's a decent yule-tide recipe (I stole it after all ;)) so if you like what a yeast brings to the party, it should probably work...
 

juskojj

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Fermentables

Pale Malt (2 Row) US 10 lb 2.0 srm
Crystal Malt - 80L 1 lb 80.0 srm
Black (Patent) Malt 2. oz 500.0 srm
Special B Malt 2 oz 160.0 srm

Honey 1 lb 1.0 srm
Molasses 4 oz 80.0 srm


Hops

Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus FWH 19 IBU
Hallertau 20.000 min 8 IBU


Misc

Ginger Root 1.000 oz 10.000 min
Orange Zest 0.500 oz 10.000 min
Cinnamon Stick 2 sticks 10.000 min
Allspice (whole) 0.500 tsp 0.000 s

Vanilla Beans Secondary 2 beans 5-14 days
Yeast

Wyeast - London ESB Ale 1968

Notes
Modified from original recipe that came from this thread:

http://www.shandonghuakong.cn/f12/christmas-ale-recipe-help-347836


Instructions

Mash at 154.400 F for 60 min.
60 minute boil.
Add Cinnamon, Orange Zest, Ginger Root to boil for last 10 min.
Add honey, molasses and Allspice at flameout.

Add Vanilla Beans after end of primary (~7days) and let sit for a little longer (5-14 days)


Best after conditioning for about a month.
How much of each hops?
 
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jtratcliff

jtratcliff

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How much of each hops?
Depends on the alpha acid percentage of your hops... I listed it as IBUs so you can put in however many oz. it takes to reach those IBUs

It's not a lot, 19 IBUs from the FWH/60 min. bittering charge and 8 IBU from the 20 min. flavor charge... Hops aren't the star of the show here... Any bittering hop would work, for instance... I chose C/T/Z because I had it on hand and it had high Alpha Acid, so I could use less of it. But warrior, magnum, anything really... I chose the hallertau for it's mild aroma and fruity/spicy character. Any low acid hop that has flavor/aroma profile you're interested in should work... Even something with hints of pine, to evoke thoughts of Christmas trees ;)

If your bittering hop is around 11-12% AA, then you'd use about 1/2 an oz... if your flavor hop is around 4%, then about 1 oz
I just plugged in numbers here IBU Calculator Beer Bitterness - Brewer's Friend ... add your AA%, then change # of ounces to get the IBUs you're after
 
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jtratcliff

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Started my 2020 batch on Sunday. Used some older Warriror for the FWH, UK Goldings for the 20 min. charge... Switched the orange zest and ginger root to flameout... did the cinnamon stick at 10m and allspice @ 5m...

Will do 2-3 tablespoons of homemade vanilla extract at bottling instead of a vanilla bean.

Here's the label I used last year...
 

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