Monday, October 20, 2014

Christmas Ale Spice Test 2

Status: Singing loud for all to hear

(changes in bold)
1/16 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 corn whole allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp white sugar

Not sure how I forgot the cinnamon last time, but holy smokes. That made a world of difference. Merry Christmas to me. Maybe a little less sugar. Maybe. =) This isn't going to go for the top of the mountain in the ABV department-- I'm looking to make this a steady, cheer-filled Christmas family-catchup fuel. No high-flying yeast acrobatics or brown sugar fermentable-padding this time.

I've been informed that somewhere between here and the in-laws' is a jar of dried orange peel. That would be amazing. And speaking of fruit, Carrie has a really good suggestion: "This would be good with some cranberry. I'm not saying you need to do it, I just think that would take it over the edge." Well, it's hard to argue with that. I'm such a lucky guy. The question is... do I throw it in with the boil, boil it separately, or mash it and toss in the fermenter? Either way, I'm going to do at least one more tea before taking the plunge on this.

I'm also going to try a yeast starter for this batch, based on this helpful video. *crosses fingers*

Finally, my original intentions for this recipe involved some molasses. After the first couple of taste tests with the spices, I'm starting to see that's not going to be an option. The taste is just... well, wrong. If you can think of something that reminds you of Christmas drinky-drinks, drop it in the comments.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Christmas Ale Spice Test 1

Status: Soapy.

1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 corn whole allspice
1 tsp white sugar
not sure how I would test orange peel...

Too much cloves, even after I intentionally dialed it down. I didn't expect to have underestimated how strong of a flavor it would have.

Everything else seems about right, though! The ginger is still tingling on my tongue, five minutes later. I can't wait to give this a shot.

This test is the result of having read a Home Brew Talk article on building your own recipes. One of the suggestions that the author had was to make a tea out of the spices or specialty grains you are planning to use in your beer, so you can get a sense of what they taste like together. It helps you work out the balance, too, before testing costs a lot of money. I hope to get the proportion right before I give it my best go in a dark Christmas ale.

Taking suggestions for names, by the way!