What is your favorite part about a Christmas ale recipe? The fruity flavors or the relaxing aromas or the sheer warmth of all the spices the beer is enriched with? Well, for most beer fanatics, it is the spices that warm you up on a cold winter evening. The chills of winter call for a beer with extra strength, more alcohol, and an abundance of flavor. This is exactly what this Christmas beer recipe is all about.
As Lord Eddard Stark said: Winter is coming. And we must be ready. So, follow the recipe and make your Christmas ale with us!
What Is a Christmas Ale? Let’s Take a Quick Peek at This Drink
Christmas ales are strong, malty beers, with slightly high alcohol content. They are dark in color, less transparent, have a rich body, and are full of spicy, warm flavors. Think cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves along the lines of orange zest or a berry burst. These beers are specialty beers, meant to be consumed in cold weather as they help warm the body from within, thanks to the spices.
Just like Thanksgiving is incomplete without a turkey and some cranberry sauce, Christmas is empty without a good old home-brew ale. Fun Christmas ale fact: The winter beer ages back to the pre-Christ era, when the tribes would celebrate the winter solstice. These traditions stayed even when Christianity took over.
As of today, the holiday season is all about family get-togethers and authentic holiday recipes. And our experts have a holiday ale recipe for you all to rejoice on. It is filled to the brim with the warmth of spices, authentic aromas, and the best part – it is easy to make.
Christmas Ale Recipe: The Easiest Recipe You Have Ever Seen
|Pale export UME mix||1 can|
|Octoberfest Vienna Lager mix||1 can|
|Dry brewing yeast||1 packet|
|Dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup||1 packet|
|Freshly ground ginger||1 Teaspoon|
|Freshly ground cloves||1/8 Teaspoon|
|Almond extract||A pinch|
Whether you are a seasonal home-brewer or an amateur, or just a beginner in the home-brewing business, this recipe is simply a cakewalk. You won’t face any unique challenges with this winter beer recipe.
How To Brew a Christmas Ale: This Is How the Experts Do It
A variety of Christmas beers are considered Christmas ales. There is the Christmas stout, all-grain Christmas ale, holiday spiced ale, oatmeal cream double stout, some brown ales, and many more. The recipe we suggest here is one of the simplest seasonal beers, which is easy to make and contains easily available ingredients.
– Brewing Instructions
- Add water to the keg: Fill your keg with up to four quarts (16 cups) of cold water.
- Next, add pale export UME and beer mix to the water: Below the beer mix lid, you will find a packet of yeast. Remove it and keep it aside. Then place both the beer mix and UME cans in hot water. This is done for it to pour consistently and quickly.
- Add water to a pot: Add four cups of water into a three-quart pot, and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiled, remove it from heat.
- Add the rest of the ingredients – the spices. To the keg, add freshly grounded cinnamon, ginger, freshly grounded cloves, and almond extract in the quantities given above (you can change the quantities based on the level of spiciness you expect out of your home-brewed Christmas ale.) What you make in this step is the wort. You may find some green leafy elements floating around. Don’t worry about them, they are just the hops that won’t dissolve.
- Fill the keg: Pour the wort you prepared in the above step to the keg. Add cold water, till the volume of the keg is 8.5 quarts.
- Puree the cherries. Add the pureed cherries to the keg. This step requires a lot of stirring and muscle strength. The cherry puree is thick by nature, and it is very important to thoroughly mix them into the keg. In this step, the temperature of your keg matters the most. Make sure it doesn’t cross 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Meanwhile, thoroughly clean and sanitize your carboy, screw cap, airlock, and strainer. You want everything to be ready to go once the wort is at the right temperature.
- Pitch the yeast. Use sanitized scissors to cut the yeast packet open. Sprinkle yeast into the mixture in the wort. Then let the keg sit for five minutes. When the time is up, stir the mixture vigorously, for about one minute or a little more.
- Wait: Fit the screw cap. Move the carboy to a dark, cool, and dry spot, away from direct sunlight. You want to maintain a temperature between 68 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit. This is called the fermentation process. Let the mixture ferment for about three-four weeks.
- Bottling day. Move the carboy to a countertop. Sanitize everything that will come in contact with the beer – bottling bucket, auto-siphon, tubes, fillers, bottles, caps.
- Transfer all the liquid up and the point where it reaches the sediment. Leave the sediment in the carboy.
- Move the liquid in the bottling bucket slowly into the bottles.
- Cover each bottle with sanitized caps.
- Store the bottles in a corner for 14-20 days at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Winter Beer Styles – Things To Keep In Mind While Brewing
All winter beers start with a choice of a base beer. A spiced beer is moderately dark, high on alcohol, is well-hopped to provide warmth, complexity, and a good heavy body to complement the season of snow.
Christmas beers are usually built on American or Belgian base style lagers, where brewers use lots of spices in the brewing process. On the other hand, fruit seasonal beers use a light wheat base and low hops to accent the flavors of the fruits infused in the beer. This type of beer is mostly basic in its alcohol content.
English winter beers are also called “winter warmers.” They are dark, full-bodied, and sweeter than other beers, with an ABV of 5.5 percent or more. American winter beers are called Christmas beers or ales, and are more spicy, sugary, with notes of selected fruits and higher ABV content of 5.7 percent and above.
– How To Brew the Perfect Winter Beer
There are two overriding principles in making the right kind of winter beer:
- Have a goal for your beer to determine the ingredients you are going to use to brew.
- Moderate your adjuncts.
At any rate, there is a reason why every family has a different recipe. It is because there is no perfect all-grain Christmas ale recipe out there. If you want to brew a beer with flavors of sugar cookies, you must start with a robust body ale, and then add sugar, some lactic acid, and maple sugar to get warmth and sweetness out of the beer. A little nutmeg could enhance the taste with a tinge of spiciness.
On the other hand, a gingerbread beer would have a completely different base and set of spices – like bready specialty malts, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and alike. Along with the right kind of goal setting, the brewer also needs to maintain a form of simplicity to the beer. Some homebrewers tend to go overboard with the ingredients, and in the process forget the ultimate style and purpose of the beer, thereby creating a flavorful mess.
Seasonal Beers: Beers You Want To Try For Every Season
Seasonal beers embrace the unique flavors and aromas different seasons represent. For fall, we have pumpkin beers, citrus beers are the highlight of the summer season, spring stands for the blooming flowers, and winters for a homely spice.
Fall beers to try:
- Double pumpkin spice latte – Tired Hands Brewing Company
- Trick or treat – Evil Genius Beer Company
Summer beers to try:
- Tart ‘n Juicy – Epic Brewing Company
- Sommer fling – Smartmouth Brewing Company
Spring beers to try:
- 320 Citra Wheat – Alesatian Brewing Company
- Purple haze fruit beer – Abita Brewing Company
Winter beers to try:
- Samuel Adams Winter Lager – Boston Beer Company
- Jubelale – Deschutes Brewery
Fun fact – The Swedes were the first Europeans to bring the Christmas beer tradition to North America in the 17th Century.
When the weather turns chilled, it’s time to sneak into spiced winter ales. Christmas is a very special holiday for people across the world. And what more special way to celebrate Christmas with the décor, some music, family time, and a good Christmas ale recipe. Brewed richer, stronger, and full-bodied, nowadays, almost every brewery makes its special seasonal beer.
There is no perfect Christmas ale recipe, which is what makes this drink a special one. Every brewer can try and test what suits their needs the best. But mostly, it is important to keep the final beer goal in mind before drawing a list of ingredients and flavors used in the brewing process.
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