Finally! We are settled into our new home after a little over a month, and it was time for me to brew my Christmas beer.
Woops. Yeah, I just said Christmas beer. I got the recipe and ingredients from Doc’s Cellar in San Luis Obispo (or rather my man did while I was at work) for a “Holiday Spiced Ale”–basically a dark beer with cinnamon and nutmeg steeped in it during secondary.
Soooo…since it isn’t Christmas anymore, I am foregoing those spices and tossing these in instead:
Those are vanilla beans, as you may deduce from the label. What’s not on the label is what they are soaking in, and what they are soaking in is Courvoisier. WHAT! It’s going to get all nice and Cognac-y for the next week or so until racking and then I’ll mush up the beans a bit and toss it in cognac and all. Yum.
This brewing sesh also introduced a couple of new toys. The first:
During the holidays my primary fermenter/bottling bucket was used to ferment hard apple cider (guest post impending), but the thing sprung a leak around the spigot…and there was much cursing and panic until we saved most of the product with the racking cane. This time I got a fermenter with a bottling-bucket “option”–a little area I could punch out to place a spigot if I want. After bottling cider out of a carboy, I’m thinking that the bottling bucket is more of a risk than it’s worth.
The second toy:
I now am the proud owner of a 7 gallon brew kettle. It seemed a bad idea to continue sharing the stew pot with spaghetti sauce. Green pepper and onion aren’t my favorite esters…Anyway, this was a great buy, and I could manage it with chilling and dumping and aerating. The only problem was the ridiculous amount of time it took to heat up and cool down. Apparently our stove doesn’t get things as hot very quickly as our old one either.
Let’s just say I watched The Devil Inside and Stakeland while I was waiting for the damn wort to boil. Guess which one was better?
This brew-day was full of firsts. It was also my first time brewing with liquid yeast! As well as with Trappist Yeast. I probably didn’t need to do a starter with it, but I still did, boiling 2 pints of purified water and a quarter cup of Liquid Malt Extract, chilling it to 75 degrees F and adding the vial of yeast. I covered it with sanitized tinfoil and let it sit overnight. I don’t know if that’s just an illusion since it was more work, but I felt like way more of a legit homebrewer than when I just sprinkled dry ale yeast over the chilled wort. Kind of like when you’re in high school and your Spanish teacher only let’s you speak Spanish in class. You’re still saying things like “You have a gato in your pantalones” but it still feels more official. In any case, my air-lock is going crazy right now!
More info as this batch progresses. In the meantime, drink some Christmas ale late! It’s still cold outside and the effect is festive. My recommendation: Deschutes Jubelale. I have never had anything from Deschutes that I wouldn’t be tempted to buy every time I walked into my local Liquor Emporium.