We pretty much feel the same way, Ebenezer
We know, we know: way too early to be talking about the holiday season. We'd rather face the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come than think about what's barreling towards us, with parties, dinners, ugly sweaters, shopping, relatives, woof!
But it's not too soon to think about brewing your holiday beer! We love to have a mildly spicy, nicely malty ale on tap to chase away the chill and to welcome friends and family (or to make them seem more fun).
The secret to a satisfying holiday beer is to add a bit of midwinter flavours, but to keep it subtle: a beer that tastes like pumpkin pie, or chewing on cloves may be within the theme, but you can't really have more than a few sips before your palate gets tired of those flavours.
This recipe is a decently strong, malt-forward, moderately hopped ale, with gentle notes of cinnamon and ginger, not only satisfies, it also makes everyone happy to enjoy a full measure.
Lower mainland water is really low in minerals, so three grams each of gypsum and calcium chloride in the mash will round it out.
- 5.5 kg 2-row pale
- 600 grams 40L Crystal
- 600 grams Honey Malt
- 600 grams Wheat Malt
- 150 grams Brown Malt
- 25 grams Roast Barley
Infusion mash at 68C (154F)
- 28 grams Columbus 60 minutes
- 28 grams Columbus 15 minutes
- 28 grams Cascade in whirlpool
- Cinnamon sticks (see below) in whirlpool
- 50 grams (about the size of a golf ball) fresh ginger, chopped into coin-sized slices in whirlpool
Some cinnamon is actually a product called Cassia, which is thick-barked and not very expensive. Real cinnamon looks like a rolled cigar and has a more aromatic, less 'red hots' flavour, and is more costly. Nothing wrong with Cassia, but since it's more aggressive use three Cassia or four small cinnamon sticks.
A smooth ale yeast with good flocculation will work well in this beer: Imperial A09 (Pub), US 04, or London Ale III (Wyeast 1318) will all work well.
This beer clocks in at just over 7% ABV (careful!) and about 25 IBU's with gentle, satisfying malt, a firm but restrained hop backbone, and just enough spice to make you happy to see reindeer tracks on the rooftops.
Speaking of which, we've got to get brewing--Yule waits for no man!