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General Category => Extract/Partial Mash Brewing => Topic started by: skepace on September 11, 2012, 05:09:53 pm

Title: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: skepace on September 11, 2012, 05:09:53 pm
So I am brewing my first Christmas/Strong Ale Beer.   Really feel challenged to do well with this.  I was thinking of placing cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and cloves in secondary.  Any challenges with this?  Here is my first draft of my beer.

12 lbs Amber Extract
2.25 lbs of Crystal 80
1/2lbs of Black Patent Malt
1/2 lbs of Chocolate Malt
1 lb of Flaked Wheat

1lb Dark Belgium Candi Sugar

1 oz Cascade Hops
1oz Northern Brewer Hops

Belgium Strong Ale Yeast

Thoughts????

Thanks!

Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: bigchicken on September 11, 2012, 05:18:30 pm
Find out the breakdown of your extract. It may contain crystal. If so, you may want to dramatically reduce your 2.25lb of additional crystal.
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: skepace on September 11, 2012, 05:21:52 pm
Find out the breakdown of your extract. It may contain crystal. If so, you may want to dramatically reduce your 2.25lb of additional crystal.

Good idea but I want to get the ABV up to 10% so if I reduce the Crystal wouldn't I have to increase the extract?
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: The Professor on September 11, 2012, 06:02:38 pm
Seems like a lot of crystal to me too, although if you're looking for a sweeter finish, you're ok.
In truth, it's probably a bit late to be doing a big ale for this Xmas season since usually beers like this are better with at least 8 months aging...but then again, any beer is ready whenever your tastebuds say it is.

Do next year's Xmas brew in January or February...to consume no earlier than November and you will probably experience an epiphany of some sort. 

Other than my editorializing, let me say that you probably have a pretty tasty brew about to happen there.  Don't give in to any temptation to add more hops, either!
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: bigchicken on September 11, 2012, 08:34:31 pm
Find out the breakdown of your extract. It may contain crystal. If so, you may want to dramatically reduce your 2.25lb of additional crystal.

Good idea but I want to get the ABV up to 10% so if I reduce the Crystal wouldn't I have to increase the extract?

If the extract has too much crystal + the amount of additional crystal you're planning to add, you may not get your final gravity as low as you'd like. Therefore, the ABV will be lower than planned and the beer will finish with a sweeter taste, as The Professor points out. Not a bad thing with this style of beer, but not sure if you're going for that.
Also, make sure to use lots of healthy yeast for this big of a beer. I did a large winter warmer a couple years back and used lots of amber and dark extract. The beer finished over 7% ABV, but was awful wine like. Not good in a beer. Too much crystal and unfermentables in the extract and poor yeast management. I now keep my extract batches fairly simple and low ABV and do all grain batches for anything creative.
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: mihalybaci on September 11, 2012, 09:28:14 pm
No matter what style of beer I make, I always use a light extract (pilsner, pale, extra pale, etc) and control all other flavor aspects with specialty malts. I would recommend switching from the amber extract to a light extract, then adding the steeping malts as needed. Also, if you really want to try to hit 10%, consider adding some plain table sugar instead of some of the extract or crystal malt. It's near 100% fermentable, giving you a lower FG, and make the beer (as they say in Belgium) more "digestable".
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: skepace on September 12, 2012, 07:57:15 am
Seems like a lot of crystal to me too, although if you're looking for a sweeter finish, you're ok.
In truth, it's probably a bit late to be doing a big ale for this Xmas season since usually beers like this are better with at least 8 months aging...but then again, any beer is ready whenever your tastebuds say it is.

Do next year's Xmas brew in January or February...to consume no earlier than November and you will probably experience an epiphany of some sort. 

Other than my editorializing, let me say that you probably have a pretty tasty brew about to happen there.  Don't give in to any temptation to add more hops, either!

Well this is my first year brewing and my third recipe that I have come up myself.  I personally don't like to brew clones.  Why brew what someone else is already making. 

Thanks professor on the comments.  I'll brew another one in January and let sit.  What I would love to do is to age it in rum barrels one year.  Who knows! 
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: skepace on September 12, 2012, 07:58:35 am
No matter what style of beer I make, I always use a light extract (pilsner, pale, extra pale, etc) and control all other flavor aspects with specialty malts. I would recommend switching from the amber extract to a light extract, then adding the steeping malts as needed. Also, if you really want to try to hit 10%, consider adding some plain table sugar instead of some of the extract or crystal malt. It's near 100% fermentable, giving you a lower FG, and make the beer (as they say in Belgium) more "digestable".

Good idea about the Light extract.  Might go with it.  I want to go all grain by January so this might be my last one with extract.  Table sugar?  Interesting...
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: morticaixavier on September 12, 2012, 08:44:34 am
Also,

doesn't flaked wheat need to be mashed to bring anything but starch to the game? been a while since I did extract and I can't remember for sure.

but +1 on the less crystal and the light or extra light extract suggestions. I once did an extract RIS and added a healthy dose of crystal malt because I wanted a big chewy beer. It never got below 1.030 and was pretty much undrinkably sweet.
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: skepace on September 12, 2012, 03:59:17 pm
Also,

doesn't flaked wheat need to be mashed to bring anything but starch to the game? been a while since I did extract and I can't remember for sure.

but +1 on the less crystal and the light or extra light extract suggestions. I once did an extract RIS and added a healthy dose of crystal malt because I wanted a big chewy beer. It never got below 1.030 and was pretty much undrinkably sweet.

Opps, not flaked wheat but flaked oats for head retention.  I was going off of pure memory when I first posted.  Might pull back on the crystal.  What else could I add for high ABV?  Special B?
Title: Re: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: erockrph on September 12, 2012, 04:34:09 pm
Might pull back on the crystal.  What else could I add for high ABV?  Special B?

Special B will lead to underattenuation like any other Crystal Malt. Try Dark Candi Syrup instead. That will attenuate fully and give some of the same flavor and color contributions.
Title: Re: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: skepace on September 12, 2012, 04:55:49 pm
Special B will lead to underattenuation like any other Crystal Malt. Try Dark Candi Syrup instead. That will attenuate fully and give some of the same flavor and color contributions.

Since my LHBS doesn't know the breakdown of their extract, I will  switch to light extract.  Should I switch out the Dark Candi Syrup for the Belgium Dark Hard Candi? 
Title: Re: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: mihalybaci on September 12, 2012, 06:26:36 pm
Since my LHBS doesn't know the breakdown of their extract, I will  switch to light extract.  Should I switch out the Dark Candi Syrup for the Belgium Dark Hard Candi?

The candi syrup (I've heard/read) is way more flavorful compared the the rock candi, so syrup all the way. Also, you mentioned special B, you could consider replacing some of the crystal 80 with special b (maybe 1/4 to 1/2 lb) if you're looking for something Belgian-style (as it would seem from the choice of yeast and candi syrup).
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: morticaixavier on September 13, 2012, 12:09:30 am
Also,

doesn't flaked wheat need to be mashed to bring anything but starch to the game? been a while since I did extract and I can't remember for sure.

but +1 on the less crystal and the light or extra light extract suggestions. I once did an extract RIS and added a healthy dose of crystal malt because I wanted a big chewy beer. It never got below 1.030 and was pretty much undrinkably sweet.

Opps, not flaked wheat but flaked oats for head retention.  I was going off of pure memory when I first posted.  Might pull back on the crystal.  What else could I add for high ABV?  Special B?

I think, but could be wrong, that flaked grain in general must be mashed to give anything but starch.
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: tygo on September 13, 2012, 04:47:28 am

I think, but could be wrong, that flaked grain in general must be mashed to give anything but starch.

It definitely won't contribute any sugars.  If the OP wants to use the flaked wheat he could always throw a pound or two of two row in there and do a mini-mash.
Title: Re: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: erockrph on September 13, 2012, 08:20:38 am
Special B will lead to underattenuation like any other Crystal Malt. Try Dark Candi Syrup instead. That will attenuate fully and give some of the same flavor and color contributions.

Since my LHBS doesn't know the breakdown of their extract, I will  switch to light extract.  Should I switch out the Dark Candi Syrup for the Belgium Dark Hard Candi?

Oops, missed the Hard Candi. Yeah, I would definitely replace the Hard Candi with Candi Syrup. You could even go up to two pounds of it on a recipe this big. It should help dry things out a bit but still provide a lot of flavor. If you do end up using 2 pounds, then I'd say use a pound of D-90 and a pound of D-180 (if you can) to up the complexity a bit.
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: denny on September 13, 2012, 09:52:47 am
Opps, not flaked wheat but flaked oats for head retention.  I was going off of pure memory when I first posted.  Might pull back on the crystal.  What else could I add for high ABV?  Special B?

Same thing.  Any flaked grain needs to be mashed with a diastatic malt to convert the starches to sugars.
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: skepace on September 16, 2012, 07:11:45 am
What about switching from Crystal 90 to two row?  Would that be better for a winter warmer/strong ale?

Also, I'm adding spices to secondary.  Good or bad?
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: The Professor on September 16, 2012, 07:32:08 am
What about switching from Crystal 90 to two row?  Would that be better for a winter warmer/strong ale?

Also, I'm adding spices to secondary.  Good or bad?

Personally, I'd keep the Crystal 90 AND add more two row.  I find the stronger beers benefit from a slightly sweet background.  I can't comment on the spices since I personally don't like them in my Christmas beers...but that's just my own bias.  My Christmas beers tend to be more along traditional lines, ie., no spices.  That said, if I were to add spices, I would add them in secondary so they don't dominate the beer.
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: skepace on September 16, 2012, 07:49:54 am
What about switching from Crystal 90 to two row?  Would that be better for a winter warmer/strong ale?

Also, I'm adding spices to secondary.  Good or bad?

Personally, I'd keep the Crystal 90 AND add more two row.  I find the stronger beers benefit from a slightly sweet background.  I can't comment on the spices since I personally don't like them in my Christmas beers...but that's just my own bias.  My Christmas beers tend to be more along traditional lines, ie., no spices.  That said, if I were to add spices, I would add them in secondary so they don't dominate the beer.

Should I then cut back on the specialt grains like the black patent malt and Chocolate malt?
Title: Re: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: skepace on September 16, 2012, 09:47:01 am
[quote author=erockrph link=topic=13365.msg169864#msg169864 date=1347546038

Oops, missed the Hard Candi. Yeah, I would definitely replace the Hard Candi with Candi Syrup. You could even go up to two pounds of it on a recipe this big. It should help dry things out a bit but still provide a lot of flavor. If you do end up using 2 pounds, then I'd say use a pound of D-90 and a pound of D-180 (if you can) to up the complexity a bit.
[/quote]

D-90 and D-180?
Title: Re: Re: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: erockrph on September 16, 2012, 10:58:58 am
D-90 and D-180?

Those are the two darkest grades of Candi Syrup. They both have a lot of flavor, but the flavors are a little different. The D-90 has more toffee and caramel, while the D-180 has more dark fruit.
Title: Re: Re: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: skepace on September 16, 2012, 11:03:27 am
D-90 and D-180?

Those are the two darkest grades of Candi Syrup. They both have a lot of flavor, but the flavors are a little different. The D-90 has more toffee and caramel, while the D-180 has more dark fruit.

Thanks!

Would 1 or 2 lbs of two row added to this recipe be enough?  Should I back off the 12 lbs of extract if I am adding two row??
Title: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
Post by: morticaixavier on September 17, 2012, 07:08:42 am
1 or 2 lbs will be plenty. you can back of the extract a bit but not much more than 1 lb.