Batch 7: Holly Ale/Winter Warmer

At the behest of Sarah, and certainly not begrudgingly, this batch is a winter warmer 🙂 Sarah asked for orange, ginger, cinnamon, and vanilla, and I happened upon this recipe:

Just in case that post or the site ever goes away, here’s the recipe (with minor changes that I made):

Recipe Type: Partial Mash (the author specified all-grain)
Yeast: WLP001, (2) 3-week-old half-pints washed from Batch 5 (the author specified Safale-05)
Yeast Starter: No (unless you consider Batch 5 to be a starter 😉 )
Batch Size (Gallons): 5
Original Gravity: 1.077 (author spec’d 1.077, also here 1.077, which is corrected from 1.073 at 90 degrees)
Final Gravity: 1.01
IBU: 36 (original spec)
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Color: 17 (original spec; my beer is significantly darker)
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 3 weeks

Mash Efficiency: 65% (rough guesstimate). I had ~1 gallon of sweet wort after BIAB, then I added 1.5 gal to get to my boil volume, then realized I hadn’t measured my gravity to check for efficiency. At that point I measured 1.023, but the mash was at 150*. 1.023 corrected for 150* is 1.042, which yields a 65% efficiency for the grain bill and 2.5 gallons of wort.
Fermentation Temperature: started high (77-79). I placed the carboy in a tub of water and added 2 frozen water bottles every 12 hours for the first 2 days to bring it down into the low 70s (72-73)

Original Recipe Fermentables
US 2-Row Malt 13lb 0oz (84.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Medium Crystal 8.00 oz (3.2 %) In Mash/Steeped
Belgian Special B 8.00 oz (3.2 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Wheat Malt 4.00 oz (1.6 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Chocolate Malt (350L) 3.20 oz (1.3 %) In Mash/Steeped
Sugar – Honey 1lb 0oz (6.5 %) End Of Boil

What I used:
3# Pale 2-Row Malt (mash)
8oz Crystal 60L (mash)
8oz Belgian Special B (mash)
4oz White Wheat Malt (mash)
4oz Chocolate Malt (mash)

6# Black Dragon Pale Liquid Male Extract (60 min boil)
2# Honey (flameout)

Centennial (8.7 % alpha) 1.00 oz Pellet Hops 60 Min From End
Centennial (8.7 % alpha) 0.50 oz Pellet Hops 30 Min From End
Centennial (8.7 % alpha) 0.50 oz Pellet Hops 10 Min From End

Other Ingredients:
Whirlfloc 10min

Tea to add during bottling:
Vanilla Beans 1
Orange Peel, Bitter 1 Tbs
Cinnamon Stick 1
Ginger Root 1Tbs (dehydrated or fresh)

Single Step Infusion (67C/152F)

Recipe Notes
Make a tea prior to bottling by boiling a quart of the beer with the above spices and priming sugar for about a minute to combine. Add the mixture to a french press and let sit for 15 minutes. Then add to bottling Bucket.

I brewed at the Seelke’s house, while Matt was brewing an all-grain British IPA. It was neat to see his all-grain method, which seems incredibly straight-forward, and a lot less scary than it seemed before I witnessed/assisted. I was mashing in the oven while Matt was boiling, and when his burner was free, I moved the mash to the burner. I had two boil-overs, with one where a significant amount of liquid was lost 🙁 I believe I would have hit a much higher gravity had I been more careful about preventing boil-overs, but it will still be a huge beer! We all tasted the sweet wort that I stole for gravity readings before pitching the yeast, and it tasted delicious!! Thanks for a fun brew day, Matt!

UPDATE 8/4/12: 4 weeks in the primary, bottled with the above-mentioned tea, and it tastes FABULOUS, both with and without the tea. Gotta make this again without the tea, just as an imperial honey brown ale. FG 1.011, estimating an ABV of 8.6%. WOOT!

UPDATE 11/11/12: cracked my first chilled bottle, and it was delightful 🙂 Not quite what either of us had expected, but it is a subtle, complex, and very pleasant brew. It has no noticable nose. It starts dark and malty, has a caramel middle, and ends with a soft press of spices, everything represented but nothing dominating. Quite quaffable.

UPDATE 1/1/13: keeps getting better 🙂