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Beer Review #177 Schlafly Christmas Ale

This will be my last “post-Christmas beer” until November or December. Schlafly Christmas Ale is brewed by the Saint Louis Brewery of St. Louis, Missouri. I find it interesting that Schlafly is the brand name of the beers made by the brewery. I don’t know if they have plans in the future to produce other lines of beer, but they are currently only producing the Schlafly brand of beers. Their Christmas Ale means business and comes in at 8.0% ABV. According to the bottle it is “brewed with orange peel and cloves.”

With the wording on the bottle, I was expecting a Belgian-like ale as those two ingredients are often used in Belgian-style beers. Upon further investigation, I found that this beer has a few other ingredients in it that would knock it out of Belgian contention. In addition to the ingredients listed above it also has juniper berries, ginger root, and cardamom as adjuncts into the beer. Needless to say, I was looking forward to tasting this one as it sounds like there is a lot going on.

The nose is very herbal, with cloves dominating most of the smells. There is some slight caramel and toffee peeking though along with some slight bitter orange odors. After my first taste I was surprised by how light the malt flavor was in this ale. The orange peel is in there towards the end of the malt flavors but the clove is really the strongest component to this beer. There is a lot happening before the cloves come in, but I honestly couldn’t place my finger on what all was happening.

I thought this beer had a nice mix of flavors, even if I couldn’t identify them all. The cloves are strong, but they really do a nice job of substituting for any hop flavor that would normally be in the beer. I liked, but not loved this one. If you dig cloves in your beer, this one is for you. (more…)

Pumpkin Ale Recipe

09-18-01So I’ve been fooling around with my beer programs and reading a lot about Pumpkin beer recipes and I think I have come up with what I want for this beer. There is a large variety of grain all in there to accomplish something a bit different and there are going to be a bunch of adjuncts, mainly the pumpkin and the spices. Anyway here it goes:

  • 7.0 lbs Maris Otter
  • 2.0 lbs Munich Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Wheat Malt
  • 0.5 Biscuit Malt
  • 1.0 lb Rice Hulls
  • 2 lbs Light Brown Sugar
  • 4-5 lbs pureed pumpkin
  • 1.0 oz Hallertau (60 mins)
  • 1.0 oz Hallertau (10 mins)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp all spice

Now how is that for an ingredient list. I plan on mashing the grains at 152 ºF for 60 minutes. I’ve never used rice hulls before, but the 4-5 pounds of pumpkin puree will make them necessary. I’ll mash out and add the brown sugar to the first runnings while the second runnings are going on. A 60 minute boil will follow with the hop additions mentioned above. The last 2 minutes I will add the spices and hop for the best. The yeast I’m still deciding on but I want it to be as clean as possible but also eat all of those sugars. I’m shooting for a gravity of 1.072 but who knows where it will end up with the variations in brown sugar and the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Puree

I’ve never added a puree to a mash before as my last pumpkin beer (Pilgrim Porter) was an extract and the pumpkin was put right into the boil. To make the pumpkin puree I will be cutting down the pumpkins and cooking them until they are soft to jump start their conversion. From there I will remove the meat and place it into a blender. Then I will blend the meat until it reaches a puree consistency, think baby food. After that it will be going into the fridge over night because I don’t want to have a crazy long brew day.

Last year when I cooked the pumpkin I put pumpkin pie spice on the meat before cooking to try and get some of those flavors in there. Where I think I failed was that those spices had their flavors boiled right out of them. There was some of the flavor left, but nothing close to the amount of spice I used. This year the spices will be added with 2 minutes left in the boil to try and maximize their flavor. I’ll get a more detailed version of this with pictures as soon as I do it.

09-13-01

Pumpkin Ale

09-13-01It is getting around that time of year to start thinking about Pumpkin Ales. There are a ton commercially out there nowadays but a homebrewer is never satisfied. Last year I made a Pilgrim Porter that had four pounds of pumpkin put into the boil kettle. It was an extract batch with some specialty grains in there, but it was wonderful. To date it is my wife’s favorite beer that I have made. This year I think I’m going to take a different approach.

In the Pilgrim Porter I was more looking for a Thanksgiving beer that was rich in flavor and had some hints of pumpkin pie in there. This year I want to make a stronger beer that has more pumpkin flavor, nice mouthfeel, and most importantly a great aftertaste. Something along the lines of Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale, which happens to be my favorite pumpkin style beer. DFH had the following video on their site about their Pinkin Ale.

YouTube Preview Image

Well what do I take away from this? First are the three ways they add flavor and sugar to this beer; pumpkin meat in the mash, brown sugar in the boil, and spices at the end of the boil. I had already planned on doing the same thing but it is nice to know I was on the right track. The second thing is the color, it is orange and looks like a pumpkin. Something to shoot for. Lastly is that they didn’t want it to be too much like pumpkin pie or spice, but has to have pumpkin flavor.

I’m still working on a recipe, and seeing that pumpkins are not going to be in the stores for a little longer it gives me time to plan out my beer. I’m not sure if I want to add brown sugar or not or something more along the lines of a honey or even no adjuncts at all. I know that I do not want to used canned pumpkin but fresh. I think my spice rack has everything I need in it already but I do need to get some fresh cinnamon. I will get a recipe up here as soon I complete it and I will keep you updated on the progress once it starts.