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X-Mas Ale 2011

Brewed: 10/16/2011   Kegged: 11/06/2011
Continuing in the SheppyBrew annual tradition of special ales for the holiday, this year's X-Mas Ale is dark and malty with high alcohol. It is a classic winter warmer with festive flavorings.

The BU:GU ratio is a bit higher this year than past years and I am only using bittering hops, relying on spices for flavor contributions. The color of this beer will be a bit lighter than in years past, but still in a range that most people would call dark.

I  considered matching Jamil's recipe in Brewing Classic Styles (allspice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg), but ended up using the hazelnut flavoring left over from the Bluefield experiment. I also added 1 tsp of cinnamon at bottling time.

This beer turned out absolutely perfect. It has a nice chocolate malt aroma and a smooth sweet malty chocolate flavor with just the right amount of hazelnut. There is just a bit of late bitterness that might be from the cinnamon. The cinnamon flavor certainly is subtle if it is there at all.


Anyway, I am looking forward to my annual vertical tasting. This might be the last year for 2009, although I might get one more year out of that batch.


X-Mas Ale 2011

Christmas/Winter Specialty Spice Beer
Batch Size
5.50 gal
All Grain
Boil Size   7.00 gal
Mash Efficiency   70.00   Boil Time   90 minutes

Recipe Characteristics

Recipe Gravity
1.078 SG
Estimated FG
1.018 SG
Recipe Bitterness
36.9 IBUs (Rager)
Alcohol by Volume
7.9 %
BU : GU   0.475        
Recipe Color
22.2 SRM
Measured OG:    1.075   Measured FG:    1.020
ADF:    73.3%   Measured ABV:    7.3%


Amt Name Type # %/IBU
14 lbs 12.0 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 86.7 %
1 lbs 12.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 2 10.3 %
6.1 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 3 2.2 %
1.0 pkg American Ale II (Harvested) (Wyeast Labs #1272) [125.00 ml] Yeast 8 -
0.75 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.40 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 36.9 IBUs
0.50 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 7 -
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 15.0 mins) Other 6 -
2.1 oz Blackprinz (500.0 SRM) Grain 4 0.8 %
1 oz Hazelnut Extract (Bottling) Flavor 9 -

Mash Profile

Mash Steps
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash In Add 21.26 qt of water at 163.7 F 152.0 F 60 min

Batch sparge with 2 steps (0.23gal, 3.50gal) of 168.0 F water Recipe Notes
Make starter a couple days in advance of brew day.
Mash as instructed in 10 gallon cooler with mesh bag to keep grains separated.
90 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.

Brewing Record

Brew Date:
Strike Temp:   166
Mash Temps:
 Very consistent 156 all the way through
Pre-boil OG   1.070 (1.072 SG)   Pre-boil Vol   7.25 (7.00 gal)
Actual Mash Efficiency
Pitch Temp    65
Day 1: 
Day ... 
Day ... 

Click here to see previous recipes
Brewing Notes:
08/28/2011 esheppy
Got the recipe for the base beer finalized, but what about the spices?
10/17/2011 esheppy
Brewed this up yesterday (see the article on my blog). This morning, the fermentation was going strong at about 68 degrees. I put in the blow-off tube just in case.
10/18/2011 esheppy
Good thing I had the blow-off tube in there. It blew off later the same day.
10/20/2011 esheppy
Removed the blow-off tube last night and put the air-lock back on. Still fermenting away, but seems to be slowing down a little bit.
11/02/2011 esheppy
Took a sample. The FG seems to be right at 1.020, which puts us at about 7.3% ABV and about 73% ADF. The flavor is awesome. Nice subtle chocolate malt flavor on top of the 1272 nuttiness. Comes across slightly sweet which is perfect for a winter warmer. I've decided that the peppermint is not what I'm going to use. Instead, I'm going to use the rest of the hazelnut extract that I've had since brewing the Bluefield experiment. That should compliment the nutty flavor I'm already getting. Probably will bottle this up Saturday or Sunday.
11/06/2011 Bottled esheppy
Bottled up from my keg using the beer gun. 2 cups water with 1 oz Hazelnut extract and 1 tsp cinnamon. Sample tasted awesome. The hazelnut really compliments the nutty esters from the WY1272. Got 25 12oz bottles, 5 bombers, 4 liter bottles, and 2 growlers.
11/23/2011 First Taste esheppy
Great chocolate malt aroma and flavor. Hazelnut really complements base beer. Sweet beer. Really like this X-mas ale.
12/20/2011 esheppy
Tasting great.
03/08/2012 esheppy
Have too much of this left for it being March. Had one last night and one tonight. Tasting good but really not a spring beer.
04/27/2012 esheppy
Drank one. Tastes good.
12/24/2015 esheppy
Had some tonight. Tastes pretty good, but ranks 3rd out of 3 of the X-Mas Ales I had tonight.
12/18/2016 esheppy
Did a 2010 2011 2012 2016 Verticle flight today. This beer is holding up well. Ranked it 4th out of 4.
01/13/2019 esheppy
Had a bottle today. Holding up well.
12/23/2023 esheppy
Drank the last bottle. Really pleasantly surprised how nice this one tasted. Out of 4, this was my 2nd favorite. The Beer Model's too. (her first was different than mine)
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