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Ser Stein

Belgian Christmas Ale suggestions

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:lumberjack:

Any suggestions to make this recipe a Belgian X-mas ale? I'm assuming adding the usual spices I was thinking like using a mulled spice bad one would use for apple cider or just making one myself. Either way I was thinking of putting it in the boil with the brown sugar and leaving it in the fermenter.

RECIPE INCLUDES:
2 Cans of Oktoberfest Lager HME
1 Packet Trappist HG Liquid Yeast
1 Packet Saaz Pellet Hops

YOU PROVIDE:
1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed

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be careful of adding spices add the wrong one and you can ruin a beer. Rely on the yeast for your spice flavors. The one you picked is a good one. I would not go adding cider or apple juice you are throwing your ratios way out of whack. What does your brewing software tell you? Anyway you look at it you are running out of time for a Christmas ale most need 6 months of conditioning. Also brown sugar adds extra conditioning time to a beer

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I didn't say I would add apple cider. I meant the typical mulling spices used in apple cider. So what I'm asking is what spices are good in a x-mas belgian ale?

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Also, is your suggested conditioning time of 6 months because of spices (along with high-ish ABV)?

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corraindar, orange peel, vanilla bean Since you are using a MR B kit why do you feel the need to change it?? What beer are you trying to clone?? Once again the yeast you want to use will provide plenty of flavor especially when fermented to the end of its range, like in the 80's. How many batches of beer have you brewed?? Get the basics down and a solid foundation before going all mad scientist

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Ser Stein - Regardless of level of experience, I can understand the desire to create your own seasonal brews. Now is not too early to brew for Christmas, but on the other side, you have a couple of months for planning since what you have described should not take an excessive amount of conditioning. The strength of using 2 cans of Oktoberfest will need more than the usual conditioning, but not a huge amount. There is a "Spiced Christmas Ale" recipe on the Mr Beer web site that you can use as a reference, which uses mulling spice like you're considering, along with almond extract. It uses the Winter Dark Ale HME, but your use of Oktoberfest sounds like a tasty experiment too. Let us know how it turns out!

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Yes, haerbob, I have been considering what my yeast is going to do prior to adding spices. And you're right, at only having made 3 batches, I don't want to tweek the recipe too much, just somewhat.

Here is how the Trappist yeast is described...
"produces classic clove, spice, pepper, and fruity flavors, and has a high alcohol tolerance."

The mulling spices they suggest is a bit too general. Should they not be ground? I've read that pre-ground spices are not as good as using fresh spices and grinding them yourself.

I guess I want to know what makes a normal Belgian Ale different from a Belgian Xmas ale?

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There is such a wide diversity among Belgians that I don't think Christmas Belgians really get outside the normal range. I bought a 5-pack mix of Christmas Belgians last Christmas and enjoyed all of them, but didn't find them to be in a distinct substyle. I suggest just picking the flavors that you want to relate to the season, and using that. The mulling spice and almond extract in the Mr Beer recipe are appropriate to me. I would use ground mulling spice if it's available. Also, I wait until 1 week before bottling to add spices, to avoid losing the flavor during fermentation while giving time for the flavors to blend. Whatever you do, enjoy the result!

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Sorry, I just saw the part of your message about grinding the mulling spices yourself. I agree that would give the best flavor if you want to do that.

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the best time to add the spices is after the primary fermentation is done. Just consider it dry hopping with spices. Some of the spice are like hops and need a bit of boiling to extract the oils. Orange peel & Coriander being prime examples. One of the problems of adding flavoring additions during the boils is the fact that the flavors will get carried away with the CO2. Are you capable of doing a secondary fermentation (long term storage)? Another option to consider is the use of essential oils during bottling, this works best with batch priming.

The Trappist yeast is one of the best for this style of beer. I would ferment at high temps for the spiciness. For me the hardest part of learning to brew Belgium style beers is throwing out conventional brewing wisdom about temps, the use of sugars, and only 1 yeast strain.

The Christmas Ales are generally higher in strength, full bodied yet a dry finish and full of interesting flavors. One of the reason for brewing this in June is to take advantage of the warmer temps. It is the fermenting at this high temps that allows the yeast to produce all of these flavors "produces classic clove, spice, pepper, and fruity flavors, and has a high alcohol tolerance." Also 6 months is a good starting point for aging. With this being your first one, I would let the yeast do all of the flavoring and not add any spices. Make sure you save a few bottles to try at 1 and 2 years old. My first Christmas Ale hit its best flavor at 5 years :cheers: :cheers: :cheers:

--Bob

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Watch out for clove and to a slightly lesser extent, allspice. If I ever use clove again it will be ONE little clove thing per LBK. It. Is. Strong. Allspice has a little of that same taste too, to me, so be careful. Traditional mulling spice has clove and allspice in it.

Monty

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Also be careful with corriander. Some people love corriander, but others don't. I used 1/2 tsp of ground corriander seed in a Belgian Dubbel (LBK-sized batch), and one of the BJCP judges in my homebrew club remarked that he doesn't generally like corriander although this was an acceptable level. I have had good results using 1/8 tsp of ground clove in the LBK, and used 2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice in a Dutch Apple Ale, which was prominent but worked fine in that recipe. Most of the volume in pumpkin pie spice is cinnamon and ginger, with lower amounts of allspice, cloves, and nutmeg.

Don't feel a need to go for high ABV that would take a long time to condition. Your 2 cans of Oktoberfest and 1 cup of brown sugar, in a 2.25 gallon batch, would have OG = 1.069, which is plenty high enough for now. Seasonal beers strive more for flavor than ABV. ABV will come by itself as you go for flavor.

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here are a couple of other yeasts for you to consider
this is the one you are planing on:

Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity
Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity strain is a robust top cropping beer yeast with phenolic character. Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity beer yeast has an alcohol tolerance to 12%. It's ideal for Bière de Garde, as it ferments dry with rich ester profile and a malty palate.

This has been my goto yeast for Belgiums for years. The last couple I have really been enjoying these:

Wyeast 3463 Forbidden Fruit
Wyeast 3463 Forbidden Fruit strain from classic Belgian brewery for production of wits to classic grand cru. Phenolic profile with subdued fruitiness.

Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey
Wyeast 1214 is a Belgian Abbey-style top-fermenting yeast, suitable for high-gravity beers. Estery.


Wyeast 3711 French Saison

Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast starter is a strain that enhances the use of spices and is extremely attenuative yet leaves an unexpected silky and rich mouthfeel in a very dry finished beer

The Wyeast 3711 French Saison is rapidly becoming my favorite. I love the dry finish of the beer

Remember that yeast is to beer what location is to wine. Yeast is one of the largest contributors to a beer's flavor. A good saison or abbey yeast will contribute a lot of spiciness to the beer. Another good flavor addition is vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste. Mix with a little brandy and add to the LBK for a couple of weeks before bottling

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I don't have secondary fermentation set up. Can I just throw it in after a week for a total of 3 weeks in the LBK? Why does MB never suggest throwing spices after primary fermentation (i.e. like the Spiced X-mas Ale)?

Here is an excerpt from the Spiced Xmas Ale instructions...

2. Place the mulling spices and the pellet hops packets into the hop sack tying it closed, then trim away excess material.

3. Using the measuring cup, pour 4 cups of water into your clean 3-quart or larger pot. Bring water to a boil, add in almond extract and the hop sack, then remove from heat.

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Well they also say a week to ferment and a week to carb. I think they say to do that just because it gets the spices sanitized, and then you don't have to worry about remembering, or opening the top of the LBK again. Remember those directions are for the simplest way to make their beer and to ensure success. It may not be the BEST way to do it, but it is a way that works ok. The advice I got here was wait a week, then throw the hops (spices) in. However, My first few batches I did not do that , and it turned out OK. I never rehydrated yeast at first either, but now I do, cause it a better way and I get good fermentation. However, not stirring the wort (aerating) and just tossing the dry yeast on the wort and sealing the top also worked ok. There are a number of things that I do based on what advice I got here, that the MR Beer direction never said to do. I haven't had enough experience yet with the results to say for sure that I am getting better results, I just trust the advice I get here.

Monty

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"Ser Stein" post=381928 said:

I don't have secondary fermentation set up. Can I just throw it in after a week for a total of 3 weeks in the LBK? Why does MB never suggest throwing spices after primary fermentation (i.e. like the Spiced X-mas Ale)?

Here is an excerpt from the Spiced Xmas Ale instructions...

2. Place the mulling spices and the pellet hops packets into the hop sack tying it closed, then trim away excess material.

add after primary fermentation has stopped. Let sit until the total of 21 or 28 days is reached no more add the hops as directed there is no need for a sack they will settle to the bottom

3. Using the measuring cup, pour 4 cups of water into your clean 3-quart or larger pot. Bring water to a boil, add in almond extract and the hop sack, then remove from heat.

add the almond extract with the the mulling spices. Almond extract is mainly alcohol so there is no sanitizing issue

MR B is making it as easy possible so new brewer will stay with the hobby. Most of us move on to other methods of brewing. Myself I prefer all grain. I use a Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System, HERMS. other Beer In A Bag, BIAB, single infusion, partial mashing, extract with grains, ETC. There are as many ways to brew as there are brewers. We will argue which is best. The best is what you prefer. One thing we will all agree is that home brew blows away most commercial beers. Wait till you sample one of your beers and say:

"D@MN! This is the best beer I have ever had!!" Believe me my friend that day will come!!!!
:cheers: :cheers:

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Here is a 5 gallon AG recipe but it may give you some ideas as far to what spices specialty grains ETC

1 lbs Caraamber (30.0 SRM) Grain 1
1 lbs Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 2
1 lbs Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 3
3 lbs 4.8 oz Lyle's Golden Syrup [boil for 60 min] (0.0 SRM) Grain 4
0.6 oz Northern Brewer [8.5%] - Boil 60 min Hops 5
6 lbs 9.6 oz Lyle's Golden Syrup [boil for 15 min] (0.0 SRM) Grain 6
0.09 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 15 min) Misc 7
0.30 oz Caraway Seed (Boil 15 min) Misc 8
0.30 oz Cumin Seed (Boil 15 min) Misc 9
9.6 oz Candi Sugar, Dark [boil for 15 min] (275.0 SRM) Grain 10
0.30 oz Coriander Seed (Boil 5 min) Misc 11
0 pkgs Belgian Strong Ale Yeast (White Labs #WLP545) Yeast 12
0.60 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Primary 15 min) Misc 13

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