Monday, October 19, 2009

A Change in Christmas Beer Plan

When I was a kid, we lived in Celle in northern Germany - or West Germany as it was back in those days - and every Christmas my mother would make a gingerbread house. Now, my mother isn't one for buying ready made kits or foods for Christmas, whether that be a gingerbread house, the mincemeat for the pies, Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, pretty much everything was prepared from start to finish the traditional way. Around this time of  year, mum would make the Christmas pudding and Christmas cake, and let them mature and age until the big day itself - every weekend feeding the cake with brandy. For all the work my mother would put into the making of the Christmas feast, it took my little brother and I moments to bash through the gingerbread to get at the sweets inside, and then days to slowly eat the house itself.

It was this gingerbread house tradition that we had as kids which has inspired my Christmas beer this year, and the fact that until I go all-grain in my home brewing, I would have problems with my original intentions of making a dark top-fermented Baltic Porter in the style of Nøgne Ø's fantastic Christmas beer. I also wanted to use a French hop as a nod to the fact that my parents now life in the Limousin area of France, so I am using Strisselspalt in the brew.

The recipe is as follows:

  • 1.3kg Amber DME
  • 250g Caramel 80
  • 1/4 tsp crushed cloves, boiled 10 minutes
  • 1/4 tsp grated ginger, boiled 10 minutes
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon, boiled 10 minutes
  • 15g sweet orange peel, boiled 10 minutes
  • 30g Strisselspalt @ 60 minutes
  • 15g Strisselspalt @ 15 minutes
  • 15g Strisselspalt @ 5 minutes
  • Wyeast Belgian Abbey II
I am hoping for an OG of 1.048, and eventually an ABV of 4.5%. Brewing is scheduled tentatively for next Wednesday as I will be bottling my Machair Stout on Tuesday once it has had two weeks in the carboy. Given a couple of weeks in the primary fermenter followed by being in bottles for about 5 weeks before Christmas itself, I am hoping that everything will work out well.

The name for my new beer? Biere d'épices!

1 comment:

  1. We were amazed by some of the gingerbread constructions we saw on our German trip last November/December -- ridiculously elaborate. Certainly more impressive than six Co-Op mince pies, as is our tradition in the UK.

    I'm liking your approach to coming up with beer recipes -- Heston Blumenthal's big on recipes based on a memory from his childhood, and it does seem to lead to creative thinking.


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