Monday, 6 October 2008

Brewing a Christmas Ale

My wife left me yesterday and brought our son with her.

She'll be back though. In about a week after she finishes visiting her parents. So what do I do when I'm left home alone? Brew!

I had been planning to make a pumpkin ale, as I'd never made anything like it before, and I wanted to make something that was well outside Rhineheitsgebot territory, while possibly being innocent in appearance, unlike those sinful Belgian fruit beers. Unfortunately I'm still in the process of building a mash tun which I reckon I'd need to use to do a proper job on a pumpkin (after roasting it), so I said screw it and modified the recipe to use malt extract and a bunch of other stuff, but keep the spices I planned on using for the pumpkin ale.

For those who care, the recipe, which I named Gremmendorfer XXXmas Ale, is as follows, for 22 litres:
  • 3.3 kg Dry Light Extract
  • 330 g Dry Wheat
  • 550 g CaraCrystal
  • 330 g Special B
  • 110 g Chocolate Malt
  • 37 g Challenger (6.5%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min
  • 32 g Ginger (fresh) - added during boil, boiled 15 min
  • 15 g Bitter Curacao/Bitter Orange (Peel) - added during boil, boiled 15 min
  • 1 Cinnamon stick, crushed - added during boil, boiled 15 min
  • 5 Allspice berries crushed - added during boil, boiled 15 min
  • 5 Cloves crushed - added during boil, boiled 15 min
  • 1.5 tsp Grated Nutmeg - added during boil, boiled 15 min
  • 250 g Honey - added during boil, boiled 15 min
  • 30 g Styrian Goldings (3.6%) - added during boil, boiled 15 mins
  • 26 g Styrian Goldings (3.6%) - added during boil, boiled 2 min
  • Fermentis SafBrew T-58
I ended up with 20 litres in the fermenter, as planned (leaving crap behind in the boiler), with a gravity of 1.072. The ginger is defiitely prominent, and it smelled and tasted pretty nice. I'm going to split this into a few secondary fermenters in a few days, one as is, one with a "light toast" oak chips and another with "heavy toast" oak chips. One way to learn what they do!

So I'm wondering how my colleagues will take to it. I'll keep it stashed still Christmas anyway, and release it as a kind of Gluhbeer (not as strong though!).

As a reward I opened a bottle of Lowen Bräu (of Buttenheim) Ungespundetes Lagerbier and had it with some bauernbrot I made the night before, old gouda, ham and hot hot mustard. I often drink while brewing, but if I'm alone I'll wait till the work is done, as there's nobody around to call an ambulance if I drop 25 litres of boiling liquid on myself while under the influence. The Ungespundetes Lagerbier is a clear amber, leaning towards the orange part of the amber spectrum. It has a clean aroma, almost classic "nobel" hops with a citric twist and slight herbal note. The citric notes come out again in the taste on top of a gentle caramel base. It's a little thin, but simple and refreshing, and just what I needed.

After that I popped open a bottle of Bolten's Ur-Alt, I'll return to that another time, as I just gobbled it without thinking too much about it. Following that though was my own Munster Mulligan Porter, a brew I made in the middle of July. My how time flies! The Mulligan moniker has been attached to pretty much every porter myself and a friend have made on account of the first one we made being based on left over ingredients, probably far too many, in true Mulligan Stew tradition. This was the first porter I made solo since moving to Germay. I used loads of Special B in it, so it has a distinct raiseny/plum flavour profile backed by wadges of chocolate malt, and a very slight roasty bitterness from a touch of black malt. Gently carbonated, it's a shockingly easy drinker and leaves a plum like sweetness after it.


Velky Al said...

Your porter sounds fantastic! As does the Christmas Ale, Christmas pud in a bottle. I am hoping to make my first beer next week - getting the necessaries whilst in England with the wife, she has a conference and I have a free hand in Oxford - oh bum!

Adeptus said...

I'm pleased with the porter, but I think dark beers are generally easy to make, as they can be very forgiving :)

Is home brewing popular in the Czech Republic? Just wondering if you can get supplies handily there. I get most of my stuff from and a reseller of theirs down near Lake Constance, Hopfen und Mehr, which sells malt pretty cheap. After getting ripped off on delivery costs from a UK supplier I'm trying to stay relatively local. I just need to find a local maltster and I'll be on the pigs back :D

Adeptus said...

Oh, and what are you planning for your first brew?

Boak said...

When you say Gluhbier, are you intending to serve it warm?

Beer Novice said...

This sounds the business! Could you add dried chili????!!!
Was going to do a kit with some added, along with spices!

Velky Al said...

From what I understand there are a few people doing homebrewing, but one thing that Prague in particular lacks is a homebrew shop. I think there are a few websites with stuff though. I am planning on making an Irish Red Ale using extract with specialty grains.

Adeptus said...

Boak, no, I meant more in terms of how I could sell the concept to my colleagues. Already they like the sound of a Weihnachtsbier though. But, I wouldn't mind trying it warm! I'll let you know.

BN, Freedgull on ICB has used chilli in beer with success. It can certainly work (I think his was fiery!).

Al, Ireland lost it's last physical homebrew shop a few years ago, but there are a couple (and one very good) local online suppliers. I've always had to buy online. It'd be nice to be able to go into a shop and browse though. And possibly dangerous for the wallet! :D