Getting the Christmas brew in early

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I had planned to make this just before Christmas and then bottle it for a year but the mortgage process, as always, had other ideas and we were delayed in buying our house until the new year.

Now safely in and having got the house up to a reasonable fermenting temperature (it has been empty for a long time and was a cool 5oC when we moved in) it’s time to finally get on with it.

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My first problem though is removing this bad boy!  Yes, all the taps in the new place are a bit style over substance annoying shits.  Kitchen designers: please spare a thought for people who want to water their gardens when you are designing these twatty things.  I got the other half to dismantle it and, success, it comes off but my hose connector doesn’t fit.  After locating one that does I set my chiller up so I could check it works as I don’t want to get to the cooling part and find I can’t do it.  Our water pressure is high and at first the water doesn’t run through and explodes all over the show at the tap.  After a bit of physics (ie gravity) I get it running.

The idea for this beer came about from my friend Emmy who just announced “OH MINCE PIE STOUT” very excitedly one day.  Now, you can’t just go throwing mince pies in to your boil due to the pastry.  Nobody wants fat floating around in their beer. I had to sit down and have a good think about it.  I know I wanted a whiskey element in so decided I’d soak some dried fruit in whiskey and put them in the boil. Next the spices, I don’t want to over spice it.  I’ve had a few Christmas beers and some of them are disgusting due to the spices just overpowering the beer and leaving a powdery taste in your mouth.  I should probably be adding cinnamon and ginger but when it came to it on brew day I decided against spices.  I just haven’t had a beer that wasn’t ruined by them.  I did add dried orange peel though and will add more if needed after fermentation. I’d like to also age the beer on more dried fruit soaked in whiskey to try and impart more of that flavour.

Hop wise I’m going for Bramling Cross to give me some deep blackberry and also some peppery notes to offset any sweetness.

I’d like to make this an imperial stout so I’m going for as strong as I can get it.  I have some scotch ale yeast which can tolerate up to 12%.  Malt wise I have a lot of stouty malts in the cupboard so have devised something with what I have got.  I do like Mikkeller’s Black Hole so had a quick nose at that to see how they got it so strong.  Turns out they had a fuckton of sugar and honey.  I’ve decided to add a bit to mine but not as much as that.

Out of the whole brewing process I’d say malt is the stuff I have the least knowledge about.  It’s the backbone to many a beer and with hop shortages malt forward beers may soon become very important.  I’ll certainly be doing more research into malts, I plan to get myself a smoker and smoke my own soon.

Malt bill

6.5kg Pale malt
500g Roasted Barley
350g Chocolate malt
225g caramel malt
200g flaked oats
200g Caraamber
200g Brown Malt
120g Special B

Other stuff

500g light muscovado sugar
50g honey

To accommodate this in my Braumeister I need to attempt a double mash as the Braumeister is only meant to have a max of 4.5kg of malt at a time.  Now I’ve never done one of these but it means to make it easier I’m going for a one step mash at 67oC.  If I did a stepped mash I’d have to use the chiller to cool down the wort at the end of the first mash ready for the second which I just can’t be arsed with to be honest. I split the malt bill into two equal parts of each malt.

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The double mash is not as much of a pain in the arse as I thought.  I set the first mash up and after an hour I stop it, remove the basket, dig out the grains and then put the new lot in and set it to mash again at the same temperature.  I think I lost a few degrees which didn’t take long to recover.

It would be easier if I had a second malt pipe but y’know they’re like £70 a pop!

Mashing done, time to boil.  I add 100g of Bramling Cross at the start and the dried fruit, sugar and orange peel at 45 mins. I stick the honey in at 55 mins.

My chiller system is ace as the water that comes out of our taps is super uncomfortably cold at the moment so I think it chilled in less than 10 mins.  I was aiming for around 10% and the gravity reading says 1.10. I transfer it to my Christmas present (SS Brewtech fermenting bucket).
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I popped out for evening and when I returned it was already bubbling away, hooray.
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I plan to leave this for a few weeks then transfer it to a secondary on the dried fruit and orange peel and then leave it in the bottle until Christmas.  Anyone want a Christmas present?

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