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X-Mas Ale 2023

Brewed: 12/03/2023   Kegged: 12/14/2023

XMas2023.jpgEvery year since I started homebrewing (way back in 2009), I've brewed an X-Mas Ale to have around the holidays.

Towards the beginning of 2023, I realized that I had not brewed beers in every category of the 2021 BJCP Guidelines (see Sheppy's Blog: I lied), and I thought that Category 33 - Wood Beer would make a good X-Mas Ale .

Overall Impression from the BJCP Guidelines:

A pleasant enhancement of the base beer style with the characteristics from aging in contact with wood. The best examples will be smooth, flavorful, well-balanced, and well-aged.

I used my standard X-Mas Ale base, pretty much the same as the 2022 version.

On the homebrew level, I really didn't want to use a barrel or even really age it all that much, and decided to go with wood-spirals to obtain the wood character.

I knew I would drink most of this before it can be considered "well-aged", but I hope to remember to bottle a few bombers to drink in the future.

I planned to brew over Thanksgiving weekend, but ended up waiting until the first weekend of December.

The beer was being poured mid-December in plenty of time for Christmas.

It is a wonderful winter warmer. The wood character was there pretty early, but subtle. Provides a little dry accent to help balance out the sweetness of the winter warmer.

Great X-Mas Ale.

For more about X-Mas Ales, see Sheppy's Blog: X-Mas Ales.

To see all the X-Mas Ales I've made over the years, see X-Mas Ales 2009 - 2023.

X-Mas Ale 2023 --- Batch 1 (347)

Style Wood-Aged Beer Batch Size 5.50 gal
Type All Grain Boil Size   6.60 gal
Brewhouse Efficiency   65.00   Boil Time   60 minutes

Recipe Characteristics

Recipe Gravity 1.061 SG Estimated FG 1.013 SG
Recipe Bitterness 38.3 IBUs (Rager) Alcohol by Volume 6.4 %
BU : GU   0.631        
Recipe Color 20.1 SRM
Measured OG:   1.061    Measured FG:   1.011 
ADF:   81    Measured ABV:   6.6 


Amt Name Type # %/IBU Volume
8.15 gal Denver, Colorado Water 1 - -
6.00 g Calcium Chloride (Mash) Water Agent 2 - -
2.00 g Epsom Salt (MgSO4) (Mash) Water Agent 3 - -
2.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash) Water Agent 4 - -
0.50 tsp Lactic Acid (Mash) Water Agent 5 - -
11 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 6 80.0 % 0.90 gal
1 lbs 8.0 oz Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 7 10.4 % 0.12 gal
8.0 oz Crystal, Ligth (Simpsons) (40.0 SRM) Grain 8 3.5 % 0.04 gal
6.0 oz Crystal, Medium (Simpsons) (68.0 SRM) Grain 9 2.6 % 0.03 gal
4.0 oz Crystal, Extra Dark (Simpsons) (180.0 SRM) Grain 10 1.7 % 0.02 gal
4.0 oz Midnight Wheat Malt (Briess) (550.0 SRM) Grain 11 1.7 % 0.02 gal
1.000 oz Magnum [12.60 %] - Boil 40.0 min Hop 12 38.3 IBUs -
1.00 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 13 - -
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10.0 mins) Other 14 - -
1.0 pkg Nottingham (Danstar #-) [23.66 ml] Yeast 15 - -
2.00 Items American Oak Infusion Spirals (Secondary 7.0 days) Flavor 16 - -

Mash Profile

Mash Steps
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Saccharification Add 32.61 qt of water at 157.5 F 150.0 F 45 min
Heat Heat to 156.0 F over 10 min 156.0 F 20 min

If steeping, remove grains, and prepare to boil wort

Recipe Notes
Water salts bring Denver water profile (as defined by BeerSmith) to
Acid addition to bring expected mash pH to 5.4
Mash as instructed.
60 minute boil making additions as instructed in recipe.
Cool wort to as close to 60F as possible. Add to fermenter. Aerate wort and pitch yeast.
Ferment at 60F for 24 hours or so. Try to keep fermentation between 60 and 65 for a couple days, then let the temperature go where it want to.
After 2 weeks of fermentation, transfer beer to keg along with the wood spirals.

Brewing Record

Brew Date:   Strike Temp:  
Mash Temps:  
Pre-boil OG   (1.055 SG)   Pre-boil Vol   (6.60 gal)
Actual Mash Efficiency   Pitch Temp    
Day 1: 
Day ... 
Day ... 

Click here to see previous recipes
Brewing Notes:
11/15/2023 esheppy
Bought ingredients today. Noticed my Simpsons malt specs were off compared to the labels at the shop. Also, didn't have the dark Munich from Root Shoot I had specified. 8oz light 40srm. 6oz medium 68srm. 4oz x-dark 180srm. 1.5 lbs light Munich 10L. The color actually doesn't change much.
12/01/2023 esheppy
Need to brew this weekend if I want to have any chance of drinking at Christmas time.
12/03/2023 esheppy
Brew day today. Everything went well. OG right on plan.
12/04/2023 esheppy
Was going strong this morning. Temp strip says about 66 degrees.
12/05/2023 esheppy
Going even stronger. Temp strip says 74ish.
12/07/2023 esheppy
Signs of fermentation stopped yesterday. Still not real clear yet. Strip says 68. Might keg early with spirals and let sit warm. Or maybe I will just let it go.
12/14/2023 esheppy
Kegged with the 2 wood spirals. Beer not as clear as I thought it was, but it will clear up as chilled. Really enjoy the base beer flavor compared to Breckenridge Christmas Ale. It will be interesting to see how much wood character I get as the beer "ages" over the next few weeks. FG at 1.011 for a 6.6% abv.
12/15/2023 esheppy
Let the spirals sit in the beer at room temperature over night. This morning, the keg went into the kegerator. I'll probably be trying this by the end of the weekend.
12/16/2023 esheppy
Chilled. Probably needs a little more carbonation, but where it is now with the high psi results in a real nice cascade effect. The color is perfect. Love the flavor. I think I'm picking up a little wood flavor, but I don't think I'd notice if I didn't know it was there. Wonderful beer.
12/17/2023 esheppy
Took photo for this page. I think I'm picking up more wood character today. Yummy beer.
12/23/2023 esheppy
Had with 2011 (hazelnut and cinnamon), 2012 (chocolate peppermint), and Breckenridge Christmas ale. This was my favorite. Beer Model liked the 2 aged beers best. I'm pleased how they both held up. Was really impressed with 2011. 2012 was fine, but I'm not really feeling peppermint right now.
12/29/2023 esheppy
Seems more clear than I remember from last week. Nice and smooth.
12/31/2023 esheppy
Happy New Year. Getting more wood character.
01/05/2024 esheppy
The wood character is getting pretty strong.
01/12/2024 esheppy
Really like how this is looking. Really beautiful dark ruby red color. Nice and clear. Great head. Nice base. The wood character is nice, but might be a bit much. I think if I make this again, I'll only use one of the spires. Great beer regardless.
01/25/2024 esheppy
I used the beer gun (for the first time in I-dont-know-how-long) to fill 4 bombers. Really liking the base beer and the wood is a nice treat too. It will be interesting to see how this holds up. The keg feels like it is really close to empty.
02/01/2024 esheppy
Checked into untapped. Really love this beer right now. The wood flavor seems about perfect. Not sure how much longer this will last, but I have to think not long. That's ok. I'll need the kegerator.
02/17/2024 esheppy
Gorgeous red clear beer. Tasting awesome. Nice woody flavor that gives this almost a wine character. Pairs nicely with shortbread girl scout cookies. Beer can't last much longer.
02/18/2024 esheppy
Killed the keg. Yummy while it lasted. Now I have room for Mardi Bock. 😋
02/25/2024 esheppy
Cleaning out the keg. The wood spirals seem to have more wood aroma in them. Thought about saving them for future brew, but not sure when I'll want that flavor again.
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