Author Topic: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?  (Read 1403 times)

Offline jweiss206

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When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« on: September 26, 2013, 11:57:05 AM »
Just curious when y'all bottle beers meant for giving away at Christmas? For three months I've been glass conditioning a 8.0% Old Ale with half the batch split and aged with whiskey soaked oak chips. I've already pulled the whiskey chips. I've heard and read differing opinions. Some say 3 months, some say 3 weeks.

Thanks for any advice,

Jason

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Re: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2013, 12:42:59 PM »
Hard to say. Timing a beer so it's at it's peak for a particular occasion is one of the finer points of the art of brewing. Many variables affect timing including style, recipe, process, packaging, and storage conditions. A well-brewed old ale packaged in corked Belgian bottles and laid down at cellar temperatures might not be at it's best until next Christmas! Then again it may be ready now! That is for you, the artist, to decide.

Offline The Professor

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Re: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2013, 01:39:49 PM »
Here's the overall procedure I've settled into over the last 2 decades for my Holiday brew:

I typically brew my Christmas Old/Burton Ale sometime between January and March  (average ABV varies slightly from year to year,  usually anywhere from 8.5% to 10%).   When the primary ferment is done, I add a percentage of beer saved from last year's brew (which in turn has a percentage of the previous year's brew, etc., etc., going back to the early/mid '90s)...the resulting blend is then bulk aged on a conservative amount of  oak beans until mid November, at which time I introduce moderate carbonation in kegs.  It then lives in the fridge until the first or second week of December  when I finally bottle it  (saving off a percentage for the next year's brew). 

I have dry hopped it a few times, but ultimately found that I  much prefer this particular brew without dry hopping, since it ruins the beautifully deep malt character (and technically, it seems that Old Ale/Burton Ale is more authentically traditional without the dry hopping anyway).

The beer going into bottle will already be carbonated, so no further conditioning is required and the resulting finished product  is ready for immediate consumption ...OR the bottles can be laid down for a year or more.  It is bottled very carefully so it holds up very well.

I started the tradition in 1991 and despite an erratic work schedule and a few tours with various stage productions, have managed to keep it going.  This year will be batch 42/22...the first number representing the number of years I've been a home brewer, the second being the batch number for my little 'tradition'. 

I generally keep about half for my own use to enjoy sipping in the winter months (after drawing off the required reserve for next year), and I give the rest as gifts to a select group of folks on my holiday gift list.
AL
New Brunswick, NJ
[499.6, 101.2] Apparent Rennerian
Homebrewer since July 1971

Offline duboman

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Re: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2013, 01:44:46 PM »
Just curious when y'all bottle beers meant for giving away at Christmas? For three months I've been glass conditioning a 8.0% Old Ale with half the batch split and aged with whiskey soaked oak chips. I've already pulled the whiskey chips. I've heard and read differing opinions. Some say 3 months, some say 3 weeks.

Thanks for any advice,

Jason

Assuming you are planning on carbonating in the bottle with priming sugar my opinion would be to bottle now and allow to carbonate which could take several weeks a that gravity. Once they are properly carbonated I would cold condition them until you are ready to distribute or simply keep them at cellar temps if that's easier and you should have a great beer come Christmas!
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Re: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2013, 01:50:44 PM »
Here's the overall procedure I've settled into over the last 2 decades for my Holiday brew:

I typically brew my Christmas Old/Burton Ale sometime between January and March  (average ABV varies slightly from year to year,  usually anywhere from 8.5% to 10%).   When the primary ferment is done, I add a percentage of beer saved from last year's brew (which in turn has a percentage of the previous year's brew, etc., etc., going back to the early/mid '90s)...the resulting blend is then bulk aged on a conservative amount of  oak beans until mid November, at which time I introduce moderate carbonation in kegs.  It then lives in the fridge until the first or second week of December  when I finally bottle it  (saving off a percentage for the next year's brew). 

I have dry hopped it a few times, but ultimately found that I  much prefer this particular brew without dry hopping, since it ruins the beautifully deep malt character (and technically, it seems that Old Ale/Burton Ale is more authentically traditional without the dry hopping anyway).

The beer going into bottle will already be carbonated, so no further conditioning is required and the resulting finished product  is ready for immediate consumption ...OR the bottles can be laid down for a year or more.  It is bottled very carefully so it holds up very well.

I started the tradition in 1991 and despite an erratic work schedule and a few tours with various stage productions, have managed to keep it going.  This year will be batch 42/22...the first number representing the number of years I've been a home brewer, the second being the batch number for my little 'tradition'. 

I generally keep about half for my own use to enjoy sipping in the winter months (after drawing off the required reserve for next year), and I give the rest as gifts to a select group of folks on my holiday gift list.

Man, that sounds fantastic!  It pays to be your buddy or neighbor. Very impressive.  I do a quad most years but they're not strategically blended like that. Wow.
Jon H.

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Re: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2013, 02:15:59 PM »
Here's the overall procedure I've settled into over the last 2 decades for my Holiday brew:

I typically brew my Christmas Old/Burton Ale sometime between January and March  (average ABV varies slightly from year to year,  usually anywhere from 8.5% to 10%).   When the primary ferment is done, I add a percentage of beer saved from last year's brew (which in turn has a percentage of the previous year's brew, etc., etc., going back to the early/mid '90s)...the resulting blend is then bulk aged on a conservative amount of  oak beans until mid November, at which time I introduce moderate carbonation in kegs.  It then lives in the fridge until the first or second week of December  when I finally bottle it  (saving off a percentage for the next year's brew). 

I have dry hopped it a few times, but ultimately found that I  much prefer this particular brew without dry hopping, since it ruins the beautifully deep malt character (and technically, it seems that Old Ale/Burton Ale is more authentically traditional without the dry hopping anyway).

The beer going into bottle will already be carbonated, so no further conditioning is required and the resulting finished product  is ready for immediate consumption ...OR the bottles can be laid down for a year or more.  It is bottled very carefully so it holds up very well.

I started the tradition in 1991 and despite an erratic work schedule and a few tours with various stage productions, have managed to keep it going.  This year will be batch 42/22...the first number representing the number of years I've been a home brewer, the second being the batch number for my little 'tradition'. 

I generally keep about half for my own use to enjoy sipping in the winter months (after drawing off the required reserve for next year), and I give the rest as gifts to a select group of folks on my holiday gift list.

A masterful display in the art of timing! Inspiring!

Offline The Professor

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Re: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2013, 07:02:51 PM »

A masterful display in the art of timing! Inspiring!

LOL. Thanks.  Actually, the timing for this brew is easy...the hard part is avoiding constant 'tastings' while it's aging.

I only wish my timing was as good in other aspects of my life (and especially my career when I was first out of college).
::)
AL
New Brunswick, NJ
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Homebrewer since July 1971

cornershot

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Re: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2013, 07:33:25 PM »
I'm sure it gets easy after 42 years, master! ;D
It's a really cool idea, nonetheless. I still have an unopened bottle of the first beer I ever brewed- a 20 year old stout. Maybe I'll crack it open and add it to the last 2 years' imperial stouts and get me some tradition going!

Offline The Professor

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Re: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2013, 09:14:22 PM »
I'm sure it gets easy after 42 years, master! ;D
It's a really cool idea, nonetheless. I still have an unopened bottle of the first beer I ever brewed- a 20 year old stout. Maybe I'll crack it open and add it to the last 2 years' imperial stouts and get me some tradition going!
[/size]

Hardly a master, but thanks anyway.
To be clear,  I can't take credit for the idea.   Actually, it was something I read in Fred Eckhart's book back in the late '70s or early '80s that got me thinking about it...something he mentioned practically in passing. 
I didn't even try it until quite a few years later. 
And it's funny...as much of a Ballantine fan as I always was, I didn't find out until the '90s that they actually did a more elaborate version of the concept with their Burton Ale,  with versions brewed in 1934 and 1946.   They kept the latter one going through the '60s .
AL
New Brunswick, NJ
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Homebrewer since July 1971

Offline thirsty

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Re: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2013, 06:09:55 AM »
That really sounds amazing. You have some lucky friends and family on your holiday list.

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Re: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2013, 06:33:17 AM »
I'm sure it gets easy after 42 years, master! ;D
It's a really cool idea, nonetheless. I still have an unopened bottle of the first beer I ever brewed- a 20 year old stout. Maybe I'll crack it open and add it to the last 2 years' imperial stouts and get me some tradition going!
That's a great idea too, Al.
Jon H.

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Re: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2013, 07:19:32 AM »
Yep. That's a cool idea, Professor. So cool I'm going to steal it! :D
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Offline The Professor

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Re: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2013, 10:57:35 AM »
Yep. That's a cool idea, Professor. So cool I'm going to steal it! :D

Do it!
With your brewing experience and setup, I'm sure you'll get great results.
I certainly envy your ability to do it on a larger scale than I'm able to do on my system.

Then again, having a limited quantity in the cellar does turn cracking one of these brews open into  a real 'occasion'.
AL
New Brunswick, NJ
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Homebrewer since July 1971

cornershot

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Re: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2013, 06:12:49 PM »
I'm sure it gets easy after 42 years, master! ;D
It's a really cool idea, nonetheless. I still have an unopened bottle of the first beer I ever brewed- a 20 year old stout. Maybe I'll crack it open and add it to the last 2 years' imperial stouts and get me some tradition going!
That's a great idea too, Al.
Well....I'd have a hard time opening my first beer ever at this point. Let alone dumping it into a batch of perfectly good beer! But I think I just might try the Perpetual Imperial Stout or PIS for short.

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Re: When do you bottle aged beers for Christmas gifts?
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2013, 06:40:25 PM »
I'm sure it gets easy after 42 years, master! ;D
It's a really cool idea, nonetheless. I still have an unopened bottle of the first beer I ever brewed- a 20 year old stout. Maybe I'll crack it open and add it to the last 2 years' imperial stouts and get me some tradition going!
That's a great idea too, Al.
Well....I'd have a hard time opening my first beer ever at this point. Let alone dumping it into a batch of perfectly good beer! But I think I just might try the Perpetual Imperial Stout or PIS for short.
:).  Don't blame you.  I liked the idea in principle.

Jon H.