Brewday 11: Christmas Ale 2013

Brewed on: 26/07/2103

Yes. You read that correctly, it’s not even August and I have brewed my beer for Christmas drinking. This one should be pretty special too, a strong malty spiced Christmas Ale.  Think the beer equivalent of mulled wine and you are pretty much there! The reason for brewing this so early is that it really needs 3 or 4 months conditioning time in the bottle to allow all the flavours to develop fully and balance out. This one is going in a crate, at the bottom of the stack until December 1st!

The ingredients for Christmas Ale 2013:

  • 4kg Maris Otter Malt
  • 1kg Vienna Malt
  • 0.45kg Crystal Malt (50L)
  • 0.22kg Caramunich Malt
  • 0.22kg Belgium Dark Candi Sugar
  • 0.11 Carafa 1 Malt
  • 0.45kg Biscuit Malt
  • 16g Saaz @ 60 minutes
  • 16g Hallertauer Hersbrucker @ 60 minutes
  • 14g Styran Goldings @ 60 minutes
  • 14g Styrian Goldings @ 15 minutes
  • 15g Hallertauer Hersbrucker @ 15 minutes
  • 1g Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
  • 10g Star Anise
  • 3 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 5g Gloves (crushed)
  • 30g Ginger (powder)
  • 1tsp Nutmeg
  • Belgium Abbey Ale II yeast

Phew! What a shopping list?! To quickly run through the new ingredients; Vienna Malt is a fairly dark aromatic malt which helps bring out a fuller flavour, Caramunich helps bring out the malt profile, Biscuit Malt does what you’d imagine really, adds a biscuity taste to the malt profile, and finally Carafa 1 Malt is a dark roasted malt similar to Chocolate Malt and gives a strong malty aroma to the finished beer. The Hops in this recipe are mainly there to balance out the sweetness coming from the malts so aren’t used in great quantity. Then there is the spice list, all these add that little Christmas something, and the Belgium Candi Sugar helps add fermentable sugars to the brew without the need for any more grains. Finally it is all finished off with a pack of Wyeast’s Belgium Abbey Ale II liquid yeast. Target OG for 23l is 1.062 giving a target ABV of 6%. Sounds perfect for Christmas Day!

IMG_0602The grain and spice shot!IMG_0606


IMG_0603 IMG_0608IMG_0610Mashing in progress. Almost hit the correct temps this time !

IMG_0612 IMG_0614Coming to the boil, and 60 minute hops added.

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Boil complete and draining to the fermenter. OG 1.052 and 25l instead of 23l. Ooops…


Courtesy of two stuck sparges (and a maths failure on my part) I ended up with too much, and therefore a weaker, wort in the boiler. This resulted in an OG of just 1.052 meaning an expected ABV of just under 5%. Not quite the full bodied ale I was hoping for, but hopefully it still will taste amazing as there is an extra 2 litres of it! Every cloud and all that…

This brewday’s lesson? I must remember to buy some Dried Malt Extract to keep in my store box! DME can be used to add fermentable sugar back into the brew to raise the OG and therefore the ABV. Not a must have, but useful to be able to fix a brew if it has come out too long like this one has. So now the brew has 14 days to ferment, and then into bottles to be kept hidden until that fat bloke with the white beard starts his warm ups!


Brewday 10: Irish Red Ale II

Brewed on: 19/07/2013

Stocks depleted it’s time for a concentrated burst of brewing ready for the autumn! First up… a remake of the Irish Red Ale I made on Brewday 4 with a couple of tweaks.

The ingredients for Irish Red Ale II:

  • 4.25kg Maris Otter Malt
  • 0.5kg Crystal Malt (10L)
  • 0.15kg Crystal Malt (50L)
  • 50g Roasted Wheat
  • 25g Bramling Cross @ 90 minutes
  • 20g Bramling Cross @ 15 minutes
  • 15g East Kent Goldings @ 15 minutes
  • 1g Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
  • Safale US-05 yeast

A little more grain in this batch over version 1, so this time the target OG is 1.047 and an expected ABV of 4.59%. I’m also using a dried yeast instead of the liquid Irish Ale yeast, although this is more down to what I had to hand at the time of planning the brew! This time my iPhone behaved and we have pictures of the brewday!

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30.2C air temperature in the shade, definitly a day for brewing in the sunshine! Now I am really glad I mounted the brewing rig on wheels – have brewery will travel!

IMG_0571The grain shot! Maris Otter at the base, the two Crystals (top and right) and the Roasted Wheat is the black one. In such a small percentage in the mash this provides the Red hue to the finished beer.




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Three stage Mash in progress at targets of 40C, 60C and 70C. The photos aren’t great, but I was pretty close to each step!



IMG_0583Sparge completed and boiler just starting to come to temperature.






IMG_0586Boil completed and cooling in progress.








Now transferred to the fermenter. OG 1.050 at 25C, and due to the air temperature the FV is wrapped in a wet towel, and stood in a water bath to keep it cool!

Overall this was a very relaxing brewday in the sunshine! I could definitely get used to these! The higher OG works back to an efficiency of 82%, and depending on the yeast performance an ABV of 4.98%. A bit bigger than planned again but not something to complain about!

Serve date on 23/08/2013, can’t wait!