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Style of the Week: Holiday Beers!

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October 3, 2014 by fhsteinbart


Old AleWhile not strictly a style per se, the styles we associate with the coming colder months are manifold. Beers like Old Ales, Strong Ales, Stock Ales, Bocks, Belgian Strong Ales, Barleywines, Wee Heavy’s, and Imperial IPA’s all inspire us to make the most out of the change in seasons. My preference is for the smaller, tastier, more drinkable beers like Old Ales, or Stock Ales. Beers like Old Speckled Hen, Black Douglas, Gale’s Prize Old Ale, Theakston’s Old Peculiar, and Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild all come to mind. What these beers all have in common is an elevated amount of alcohol, color, flavor, and a balancing counterpoint of bitterness. I like the BU:GU ratio to be around 1:2, that is to say half the OG will be the BU. So below is a recipe of mine that makes a very nice Old Ale, with an OG of 1.080, and BU of around 40 IBU’s, its a nice balance of malt and hops, giving the impression of a winter warmer indeed!

Extract version:

OG: 1.080 TG: 1.020

9 lbs. Light DME

¼ lb. Black Patent Malt

1 lb. Malto-Dextrin at end of boil

1 oz. Magnum hops for 60~90 minutes

1 oz. Northern Brewer hops for 30 minutes

1 oz. Nugget hops at 15 minutes

1 oz. Willamette hops at 7 minutes

2 oz. Golding’s hops dry hopped for 9~12 days

1 Whirlfloc Tablet or ½ tsp. Irish Moss at last 20 minutes

¾ gm. Burton Water Salts per gallon (~3.75 gms. or 1 level tsp.)

Wyeast 1028, WLP013, or Nottingham yeast

Procedure:

  • Heat 2-5 gallons of water to 165°F.
  • Turn off heat and add malt extract, stirring until fully dissolved.
  • Return to Heat, bring to boil for 5 min. then add bittering hops.
  • At 30 minutes add the flavor hops.
  • At 20 minutes add Whirlfloc tablet or Irish moss.
  • At 15 minutes add the aroma hops.
  • At 7 minutes add the second charge of aroma hops.
  • At knockout (0 minutes), turn off the heat, add 1 lb. Malto-Dextrin, then cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or use a wort chiller.
  • Add the mixture to the fermenter, removing the hops, and bring total volume to 5 gallons using distilled, bottled, or filtered tap water.
  • Aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well).
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 65°F to 69°F. for up to two weeks, allowing to age an additional two weeks before packaging up as usual.

All Grain version:

OG: 1.080 FG: 1.020

12 lbs. Gambrinus ESB Malt

¼ lb. Black Patent Malt

1 lb. Dextrin Malt

1 oz. Magnum hops for 60~90 minutes

1 oz. Northern Brewer hops for 30 minutes

1 oz. Nugget hops at 15 minutes

1 oz. Willamette hops at 7 minutes

2 oz. Golding’s hops dry hopped for 9~12 days

1 Whirlfloc Tablet or ½ tsp. Irish Moss at last 20 minutes

¾ gm. Burton Water Salts per gallon (~3.75 gms. or 1 level tsp.) in both mash and boil

Wyeast 1028, WLP013, or Nottingham yeast

Procedure:

  • Infusion mash at 150°F for 90 min.
  • Sparge until 6~6½ gal wort has been obtained.
  • Add the Burton Water Salts after the boil commences.
  • Boil for 1 to 1½ hours.
  • Then add the bittering hops after 15 minutes boiling and continue to boil for 60 more minutes.
  • Add the flavor hops at 30 minutes remaining.
  • Add Whirlfloc or Irish Moss at last 20 minutes.
  • Add the aroma hops at 15 minutes remaining to the boil.
  • Add the second charge of aroma hops at 7 minutes remaining in the boil.
  • Gravity may vary depending on system efficiency, so adjust accordingly.

Package up as usual; bottled versions should use 96 gms. corn sugar (approx. 2/3 cup), or kegged to 15 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 50~55°F in a 8 oz. Tulip glass, share and enjoy! This beer will continue to evolve and change over the coming months and years, so keep some for the future to enjoy as it ages.

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