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Winter Warmer Recipe

11-20-01In my last homebrew post I talked about doing a Colonial American style beer. Well I am still working on that, but I have a lot more reading to do so that I can make it accurately. In the meantime, I thought that I would embrace the coming season change and got with a winter warmer. I’ve always been a fan of winter seasonal beers, but I have never made one of my own. My wife has also been asking me to make something dark and malty. A winter warmer fits perfectly into that style.

Let me begin with the fact that I have only had a handful of beers classified as “winter warmer” before in my life. I think my favorite belongs to Lancaster Brewing Company, which I enjoyed plenty of last year back in PA. The things I like about it are the facts that it has a huge body, a lot of different flavor notes (some fruit, chocolate, brown sugar, molasses, and caramel), and it all comes in being very well balanced. Furthermore, for an 8.9% abv beer there isn’t much, if any, alcohol noticeable and there is not a lot of hop bite on the back. The malt and complexity in it are what shine in this beer.

So I began doing some research trying to find a starting point with this beer. And after all was said and done, I came up with a recipe that I think is unique and should deliver a great amount of complexity.

  • 8.0 lbs American 2-Row
  • 2.0 lbs Maris Otter Pale Malt
  • 1.0 lbs Caramel Malt 90L
  • 1.0 lbs Chocolate Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Chocolate Wheat Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Chocolate Rye Malt
  • 0.5 lbs American Black Patent
  • 1.0 lbs Molasses
  • 1 oz Fuggle hops (3.6% AA for 60 mins)
  • 1 oz Fuggle hops (3.6% AA for 15 mins)
  • Nottingham Dry Ale yeast, with starter

I’m planning on mashing this at about 150 degrees for an hour. Doing so should give a nice balance between malt character and easy fermenting sugar. The 1 lb of molasses will be added into the kettle during the first runnings. I put a lot of dark malts into this beer becasue I want something with some coffee, molasses, and chocolate notes.

The chocolate wheat and rye were a last minute decision and the original recipe had one pound of wheat malt. I’ve never used chocolate wheat/rye malt and this is my first experience with rye malt overall, so I’m not entirely sure what impacts they will have. From my  understanding, rye malt tends to dry a beer out and give a crisper feel to it. Even at that, it makes up about 4% of then total grain bill, so it should not have a large effect weather it be positive or negative.

I also went with a dry ale yeast here for a few reasons. First, I used it on the pumpkin ale with good results. Second, the dry ale yeast is easy to make a starter with and with the fluctuation in temperatures here in Texas during this time of year (40 degrees between day and night) I didn’t want any active yeast to suffer. Third is that the optimal temperature range for this yeast is 57-70 degrees which falls perfectly into my apartment’s temperatures. Fourth, it is highly flocculant (precipitating) and highly attenuating. And lastly, it has a lost ester profile, so the malt should be able to shine through even more when it is not competing with the hops or yeast esters.

The final stats on the beer look like this:

  • OG 1.075
  • 39 SRM
  • 7.5% ABV
  • 20.0 IBUs

I plan of fermenting for a week (or until fermention is complete) and than putting it into a secondary for 2-3 weeks. After that I will bottle it and leave it condition for another 2-3 weeks (hopefully there will be no carbonation problems this time around). Then I can finally enjoy the fruits of my labor.

The Homebrewers’ Recipe Guide

10-23-01When I first started doing 5 gallon batches of homebrew I picked up two books. The first was the Joy of Homebrewing and the second was  The Homebrewers’ Recipe Guide. I figured that the JoH was a great teaching book but didn’t have a lot of recipes, and  I wasn’t totally ready to start formulating my own, so a recipe book was the next best thing.

The Homebrewer’s Recipe Guide was the book I went with after looking though several in the homebrew shop. There were other books out there with 300+ recipes and others that catered to making clones, but this book had a good mix of original recipes and some clone ones. The other thing I really liked was that it offered holiday and seasonal beer recipes.

It comes with “more than 175 original beer recipes” and a lot of helpful hints to help you out along the way. The other thing that I really liked is that the beers are broken up by style. You can easily choose a style that you want, and then go for a specific recipe in that style. Most styles have three or more different recipes to choose from. The book is broken up as follows:

  • Bitters, Pale Ales, and Other Regional Ales
  • Brown Ales, Porters, and Stouts
  • Lagers
  • Bocks, Doppelbocks, Barleywines, and Strong Ales
  • Fruit, Herb, and Smoked Beers,
  • Holiday and Seasonal Beers
  • Brewery Copycats
  • Meads, Lambics, and Ciders
  • Food and Beer, Beer and Food

Clearly there are a ton of options and it even ventures into meads, ciders, and food recipes. All of the beer recipes are extract based but if you are an all grain brewer you could easily convert everything over to make it work for your needs as well. I have probably outgrown the book for recipe purposes right now, but I do refer back to it for the Brewer’s Tips and for some guidance on recipe formulation.

A lot of homebrewers put down recipe books because they don’t think the books really deliver on what they say. They might be right, but this book gave me a lot of guidance and helped me along my brewing experience. The recipes I used from the book always turned out pretty good. I think the biggest thing I learned was how to develop my own recipes. You can see how a beer is put together from a recipe book, and what flavors you should be looking to develop in a particular style of beer. That is where this book was the most help to me. I still pull it out from time to time to help me out. Charlie Papazian does the foreword for the book if that is any indication of the quality of it.

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.