“It’s a mince-pie in a bottle”, I imagine my interlocutor saying, when he looks at the recipe for 09’s Christmas beer. Everyone needs a little tipple to warm them up at Christmas, and the other day I was sitting with friend and fellow brewer Peter, in Messrs Maguire, a Dublin Brewpub. They had a seasonal beer, called Juløl, or ‘Christmas beer’ in Scandinavian. I have to say I quite liked it, especially at €4 a pint. Peter wasn’t so sure, but overall the folks at ICB seem to enjoy it, there is a discussion thread here . Anyway following my discussion in the pub, I decided my beer should be far more heavily spiced (because there’s nothing subtle about christmas), and a little stronger. Juløl is 6%, mine should be more like 8%. I thought I wouldn’t need the normal 35L batch, which is just as well, since a beer that strong would have a huge grain bill. I decided to just do a one step infusion mash, which is how some of the stronger belgians do it, like Westvleteren 12, at least according to my bible, “Brew Like a Monk”. That means I would just fill up the mash tun and drain once, with no sparge, only collecting the strongest first runnings. I was aiming for 19L.
The precise spices were chosen by my foodie girlfriend, who was excited about the spicing. As you will see it is pretty much a mince pie, or as my cousin observed “it sounds like mulled wine”. Mulled beer I suppose. It’s no accident that we were celebrating the start of Advent with a Swedish friend (apparently it’s a big deal over there) by drinking large amounts of Glögg, which is mulled wine with the one massive structural defect corrected- the alcohol usually boils off mulled wine if you’re not careful, the Swedes dunk a shot of vodka or something similar in at the end to counteract this tragic loss.
One other element that adds to my mince-pie beer is the addition of pureed raisins. I took this idea from Dogfish Head’s Raison D’Être beer, there is a recipe for it in the latest (Dec 09) BYO magazine. There is a more in depth recipe in Sam Calagione’s book “Extreme Brewing”, although it is an extract only recipe. In any case the idea is you take a cup of wort from the boiler when you start the boil, add it to the raisins and blend them, re-adding the mixture 10 minutes from the end. I decided to hop not too heavily with EKG, and have no late addition, hoping that the spices will dominate the nose. I used Wyeast “Forbidden Fruit” as my yeast because spice and Belgian fruity yeast go together, also it has a higher alcohol tolerance. I mashed at 62c for 20 minutes, raising to 66c for 60 minutes with a boiling water addition. As it happens I only collected 13L of this, but that 13L had a gravity of 1.110, so I topped up to 18L, which should have a gravity of about 1.080, (you do the math[s]) which was my target. Here is the recipe
7KG Pale Ale Malt
500G Munich Malt
30G Amber Malt (Home Roasted)
70G Dark Roasted Malt (Home Roasted)
100G Roast Malt (Home Roasted)
250G Homemade Medium Candi Sugar, for colour, following Brew365’s method (10 minutes from end of boil)
200G Pureed Raisins (10 minutes from end of boil)
40G EKG 4.8 (60 minutes)
30G EKG 4.8 (20 minutes)
Cloves (7G, 10 minutes from end of boil)
Allspice Berries, Crushed lightly (15G, 10 minutes from end of boil)
Cinnamon (2 sticks, 10 minutes from end of boil)
Orange Peel (9G, end of boil)
IBU is about 25. ABV should be around 8%
So between that and my Figgy Porter, I should be set for fireside festivities!