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Designing Christmas beers

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I really want to start brewing for the holidays and seasons.  I've been wanting to do a Christmas beer for awhile.  I'm not sure what to do.  Add fruit?  Add spice?

I have a Belgian strong dark recipe as a base:

15  lbs  Pilsener
3.0 lbs  Munich
0.5 lbs  Wheat
1.0 lbs  Cane sugar
1.0 lbs  Aromatic
1.0 lbs  CaraMunich
1.0 lbs  Special B
0.5 lbs Melanoidin

2.42 oz Hallertau @ 60

As far as yeast goes, I would like something that adds a lot of spice and fruit.  I was thinking maybe WLP 500, but I have no idea.  What else can I do to this to make is more special.  I've seen recipes that add cherries.  What other sorts of things are "Christmas" like?

Several Belgian breweries seem to put orange in their Christmas beers. N'ice Chouffe for instance uses orange and thyme. I like the sound of cherries in a Belgian Dark Strong (plums too), since those echo malt flavors.  Increasing the CaraMunich might give you more of those flavors. If you can get your hands on some dark Munich, I think you might like that too.

I'd be careful about adding too much spice, since Belgian yeast tend to create plenty on their own. If you do use something, go traditional with coriander.  I'd avoid clove.  So don't neglect herbs as a possible special note.

Take a look at the Wyeast Ardennes and Antwerp strains.

The Professor:
All depends on what you like...seems like you already have a very nice Christmas beer there already without adding anything else. 
It's probably just me, but  I'd rather have a well balanced, strong brew for the winter season than anything with spices or fruit added. 
I'd save those things for making mulled ale.   

I usually brew mine in April or May, though...with 8 or more months on it, a strong ale becomes something very special.

Whatever you do, design the beer so that after you've had one - by golly - you simply have to have another one! Too many Christmas beers are a half a pint - thanks that's enough - affairs. I like dark, belgian inspired beers for christmas. Oh, and dark, strong doppelbocks, too.


--- Quote from: gordonstrong on August 18, 2010, 02:08:43 PM ---Wyeast Ardennes and Antwerp strains.
--- End quote ---

Yea I was definitely checking those out!  I was also checking the Bastogne strain out as well, but it looks like I have missed that one.  It would have been cool to do a WWII inspired "Christmas in Bastone" beer.  Maybe next year.

--- Quote from: majorvices on August 18, 2010, 02:53:26 PM ---Whatever you do, design the beer so that after you've had one - by golly - you simply have to have another one!
--- End quote ---

I really like Mad Elf which is why I think I have cherries specifically on my mind.


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