Sunday, June 26, 2011

Père Noël de Bruxelles: Christmas in June

Racking the BTB, reusing the yeast cake!
Today was a wonderful brew day.  I woke up bright and early this morning and got my strike water and mash ready.  I stabilized the temperature at 150° and left it alone...for the next four hours.  I went to my church choir gig and left the mash alone to do its thing, which actually isn't a bad thing at all; it actually gives the grain ample time to convert, and pretty much can only affect the result for the better.  Anyway, after singing this morning, I came back and found that my mash tun had only gone down 4 degrees over four hours.  Awesome!  I was able to really get into brew day and do my thang from there on out.

For those who are scratching their heads, make no mistakes; this is a CHRISTMAS beer.  But Jeff, why are you brewing it in late June?  Well, I want to give the beer a few months to age into beautiful wonderfulness so it will be just perfect for wintertime.  This one should weigh in at about 8.2% ABV, a really nice strength for a winter warmer.  Here is the recipe (remember this is a half batch):

Anticipated OG: 1.084
Actual OG: 1.084 (f yeah 75% efficiency)
Anticipated SRM: 15 °L
Anticipated IBU: 34

5 lbs Franco-Belges pilsener malt
1 lb Flaked wheat
1 lb light Munich malt
.25 lbs Belgian amber (biscuit) malt

.5 lbs 90°L Belgian Candi syrup

1 oz. Hallertauer pellets @60 minutes
.5 oz. East Kent Goldings (I've been in a wicked EKG mood lately) @15 min
2 lbs dried Turkish apricots (no preservatives) @10 min, then added to the fermenter
.5 oz fresh-crushed coriander seed @10 min

.5 oz French oak cubes in secondary

Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes, yeast cake reused from Belgian Table Beer

Collecting sweet sweet runoff
Amidst the mashing, vorlaufing, sparging, racking, and boiling of stuff, I also managed to bottle my delicious Lucky Leaf summer cider.  It is really tasty and should be ready to drink in a couple of days! 

C is for cider, that's good enough for me

Overall, brew day was fantastic and I got so much done, it just felt good.  Everything went smoothly, not too many hurdles, and I just know that this Christmas beer will be a winner.  Can't wait to see how it progresses over the next few weeks, and then in the bottle over the next few months!  Should be awesome.  Stay tuned for its release in December, and stay tuned for the upcoming brew day of my English Christmas beer, the Figgy Pudding Ale.  It will be a very similar beer, but with its own uniqueness.  Delicious!  It will be hard to wait six months for them but it will be worth it, and I'll have some great beer (and cider) to drink in the meantime.


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