Home brewing in Connecticut Discussions - CT Beer Trail

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Holiday Ale is now fermenting

I originally intending on brewing up some Holiday Ale with some buddies for Teach a Friend to Brew Day... But none of my friends showed much interest... Oddly enough, they're willing to drink it when it's done... Interesting... (Lazy b@st@rds! LOL!)

So I brewed solo this past Sunday, although Dave and Erik did come over to eat pizza, drink beer and do the Sunday Night Football thing.

Dave, Erik & I before we all started to hit the gym and drink more lite beer
(Photo from the big Boston trip)

In fairness, Dave helped out by securing my funnel/filter while I poured the wort in the carboy. Sounds minor, but it was a big help, thanks Dave... And while Erik may not have helped with the brewing, he at least called the pizza delivery place, no wait he didn't do that either... Well, he did provide a half a bag of Doritos... I guess that's something...

At any rate, I didn't get any photos or videos this time around, the wife had the camera and was out seeing a girl friend act/sing in a play, and we all know what she did to the other camera...

About the recipe
This beer recipe is pretty cool because it included the most malt I've used in a kit to date. Not 1 but 2 cans of malt extract, a much larger bag or crushed crystal extract than what is typical, an additional bag of crushed chocolate and black patent malt and a spice pack that included sweet orange peel, cinnamon, cardamon seed and ginger root. Plus bittering and finishing hops. This should be a very flavorful beer, and according to the directions, it should be between 8% and 9% ABV. Should be a fun beer to enjoy by the fire place next month!

Houston, we may have a problem or two or three or four!
Here's the thing, the directions were a little vague at times, so I kinda had to guess when to add the spices, I put them in during the last 5-10 minutes of the boil, hopefully that was right. I baed the decision on other similar recipes I found via google. If it's on the internet, it must be true! Right?

The other thing is, I put the bittering hops in a little late. I hope that doesn't harm the brew too much... I got a little distracted with pizza... DOH! Any of you more experienced brewers out there think there will be much impact if the hops were added about 15-20 minutes late? Feel free to leave a comment and school me up...

I also had a couple of short boil overs! Damn that tasty pizza and ample supply of cold beer, so very distracting! Again, these were short, minor boil overs. I was getting a little sloppy, but I think all will be well, I hope...

I will say this much, the airlock has been going bubbling like crazy, which is a good sign... But, my boiler is on the fritz, and the temp dropped to 64 degrees in the house today. None the less, the airlock is bubbling away, which is a bit of a relief. I was concerned the temp fluctuation would have ruined things, but the beer appears to be doing well. Fingers are crossed, stay tuned!


  1. Sounds like a tasty brew!

    As far as the spices, you hit the nail on the head! With spices you usually want to add them with about 5-10min left in your boil.

    As far as your hops, as I am sure you know there are three different hops additions, bittering (60min+), flavor (15-30min), aroma (0-10min). The hops time in the wort determines the amount of alpha acids that are absorbed in the wort and thus the effect of the hops. the boil is was causes the release of these acids, that's why dry hopping does not contribute to your IBU's.

    So, specifically to your point, you should be fine. All that happened by not giving your hops the full 60min boil is that you left some of the potential alpha acids behind. If you had a lighter beer without a lot of other contributing flavors it might be a little bigger deal, but with the spices you have in there, you should be fine.

    For more good info, check out How to Brew By John Palmer and his entry on hops. There is a lot of good infor on there as well.


  2. Thanks Travis... Obviously I'm still learning, and I'm easily distracted when it comes to beer and pizza...

    I'm hoping the beer comes out at least close to the recipe's intended results.

    I'll be sure to let you know in a future post.

  3. I just made my own Winter Ale the other day, and it is fermenting so vigorously, I had to make a blowoff tube from my siphon tubing, and stuff it into the grommeted hole in the lid of my fermenter!

    I never added spices to beer, but I have also read on Northern Brewer forum post (somewhere) that many people like to add the spices steeped in alcohol in the secondary.

    You could have handled the hops in one of three ways: 1) boil longer, such that you end up boiling the hops for the full duration; 2) use more hops, in proportion to the amount of IBUs lost to late addition (you'd need software like BeerSmith to know just how much to add; 3) just roll with it, RDWHAHB as they say. They'll all turn out fine.

    Finally, boilovers. Doesn't matter at all, except you might lose a few hops since they all float at the top, and you will lose some precious wort. But I boil over a few times every batch lately.

    Keep brewing!

  4. Good luck with your holiday ale, and thanks for the tips!

    I did let it boil a little longer when I realized I made the time mistake. Hopefully it helped.

    I'll keep you posted, I plan to bottle the beer soon... Maybe tomorrow, maybe over the weekend...


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