Author Topic: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!  (Read 7666 times)

Offline skepace

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First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« on: September 11, 2012, 04:09:53 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!


Offline bigchicken

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Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2012, 04:18:30 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.
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Offline skepace

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Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2012, 04:21:52 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?

Offline The Professor

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Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2012, 05:02:38 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!
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Offline bigchicken

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Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2012, 07:34:31 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.
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Offline mihalybaci

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Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2012, 08:28:14 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".

Offline skepace

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Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2012, 06:57:15 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! 

Offline skepace

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Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2012, 06:58:35 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...

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2012, 07:44:34 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.
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Offline skepace

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Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2012, 02:59:17 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?

Offline erockrph

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Re: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2012, 03:34:09 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.
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Offline skepace

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Re: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2012, 03:55:49 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? 

Offline mihalybaci

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Re: Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2012, 05:26:36 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).

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2012, 11:09:30 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?

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

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Re: First Christmas Beer - Got questions!
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2012, 03:47:28 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.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2012, 03:56:07 AM by tygo »
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