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X-Mas Ale 2010

Brewed: 09/12/2010   Kegged: 10/02/2010 xmas.JPG
My first brewing year, of course I knew I wanted a special holiday ale.  It would be a high-alcohol, flavorful beer to help keep me warm on cold winter nights.   I came across Ol' St. Nick's Midnight Ale on the Mr. Beer website, and decided to use it as a base for my own recipe.  It turned out great.  It was dark and malty with few hops but some spices and fruit to make it a more special (festive) beer.

And, it is now a tradition to brew an X-Mas beer every year.  2010 was an all-grain batch.  The base beer was designed to come as close to the first year as possible.  The recipe used medium to dark caramel malts and some chocolate malt on top of the pale 2-row.  It was different in that its main spice was apple pie spice.  But for the most part, it turned out very similar.  I do believe it also used less hops which helped give it a sweeter flavor.

One thing I am going to try to do is to do vertical tastings on my X-Mas Ale every year to see how age affects the beers.  It was a very interesting experience this year.  Read about it on my blog here.  At the time that I am writing this, I have 2 left from 2009 and 7 left from 2010.  I don't know if 2009 will make it to 2012 or not, but I'll have 3 beers to compare in 2011.

Merry X-Mas everyone.


X-Mas Ale 2010 (AG) --- cost 17.21

Christmas/Winter Specialty Spice Beer
Batch Size
2.40 gal
All Grain
Boil Size   3.01 gal
Mash Efficiency   65.00   Boil Time   90 minutes

Recipe Characteristics

Recipe Gravity
1.068 SG
Estimated FG
1.017 SG
Recipe Bitterness
22.5 IBU (Rager)
Alcohol by Volume
6.55 %
BU : GU   0.333        
Recipe Color
26.1 SRM
Measured OG:    1.071   Measured FG:    1.010
ADF:    86%   Measured ABV:    7.97%


Amount Item Type % or IBU
5 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 69.54 %
4.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 3.48 %
4.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 3.48 %
4.0 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 3.48 %
0.25 oz Nugget [10.00 %] (60 min) Hops 22.5 IBU
0.05 oz Cinnamon Stick (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
0.25 tsp Apple Pie Spice (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
0.25 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 15.0 min) Misc
0.25 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
15.0 oz Cherries (Can) (10.0 SRM) Sugar 13.07 %
8.0 oz Brown Sugar, Light (8.0 SRM) Sugar 6.95 %
1 Pkgs SafAle English Ale (Fermentis #S-04) Yeast-Ale

Mash Profile

Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
60 min Mash In Add 7.19 qt of water at 165.9 F 154.0 F

Batch Sparge Round 1: Sparge with 0.52 gal of 168.0 F water
Batch Sparge Round 2: Sparge with 1.63 gal of 168.0 F water

Recipe Notes
Try to pitch around 60F and control for first few days to around 65. After main fermentation, let temp raise.
Ferment 2 weeks.
After fermenting 1 week, add Cherries & Beer to secondary fermenter. Ferment another week.
Batch prime with 2.25 oz sugar. Condition for 2 - 4 weeks.

Click here to see previous recipes
Brewing Notes:
Thinking about adding oats. Maybe toast a bit in the oven. Probably steep so I do not have to worry about stuck sparge.
Got my grains today. Had an accident where the bag fell over, spilling some of the cracked grains. Don't think I lost too much, but I may have to adjust with some LME to get the desired OG.
09/13/2010 Brewing Day esheppy
Brewed it up yesterday. Everything went very well. Think I might have gotten better efficiency with the new stainless braid. But, cannot really say for sure because I do not really know how much of the grains I actually got. Substituted apple pie spice for the allspice.
Last night, I blended the cherries in a sanitized blender. Put them in another fermenter and drained the beer on top. Have a bit of krausen on top today.
Last night, I started the "cold crash" process.
10/02/2010 Bottled esheppy
2.25oz sugar and a teaspoon of apple pie spice in 2 cups boiling water. I had quite a bit of beer left on the bottom, along with the cherry pieces. I think next time I'll using fruit flavoring instead of real cherries. Really impressive attenuation, especially since I did not really account for the sugar from the cherries. Got only 16 12 oz bottles along with 2 liters and a 22oz bottle. Now, I just need to wait until Thanksgiving or so to taste these. (good luck with that, Sheppy)
10/16/2010 esheppy
I guess my carb phase is over. Put in the conditioning cooler, but nothing else is in there, so I am not cooling it. Plenty of time for this beer. Hoping to put off any real taste until Thanksgiving, but might have to sneak a QA bottle some time.
Put 6 of these in the upstairs fridge.
Last night I had one of these and one of the 2009 X-Mas Ales. Both were delicious. 2009 really aged well. I'm not sure I'll be able to, but I might try to save at least one for X-Mas 2011. I will certainly try to save lots of this batch too. Next year, I might make a bigger batch so that it will be easier to save for years.
11/26/2010 esheppy
Had the LB. More cherry flavor than I remember before. Also sweeter. Nice and festive.
12/22/2010 esheppy
The aroma has a bit of cherry with a rich malty flavor.The flavor starts with an initial malty sweetness and is immediately complimented by the cherry fruitiness.The apple pie spice joins in and the cinnamon seems to provide nice bitterness at the end.The ingredients are really blending nicely together.
02/19/2011 esheppy
This page got wiped out somehow. Need to repopulate the content. Hope it was my stupidity an not some hacker.
12/24/2015 esheppy
Yes it is 2015 and I'm drinking what I think is the last of the 2010 X-Mas Ale. It is still actually really good. Still a fair amount of Apple pie spice. Not much head retention, but it tastes great.
12/18/2016 esheppy
Did a 2010 2011 2012 2016 Verticle flight today. This beer is holding up well. Ranked it 3rd out of 4.
04/01/2018 esheppy
Easter 2018. 8 year old beer still tastes nice. Can taste the cherries in the background. Well blended spices. Beautiful ruby color.
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