Friday, November 16, 2007

Winter Ale

With winter approaching (that son-of-a-bitch), I decided it is time brew a beer that makes the long cold Minnesota nights a bit shorter. I once again went to my brewing cupboard and took an inventory. With the help of The Beer Recipator, I crafted a recipe for a spiced Winter ale.

I've very proud of this batch because I took a lot of care crafting it, but I also paid a lot of attention to some specifics. For example, I actually took the time to calculate my mashing (partial) efficiency which turned out to be about 75%. I hope the extra care pays off.

Here's the details copied from the Recipator summary. I didn't include in the summary the spices I included. For the last 15 minutes of the boil I added 3 cinnamon sticks, 0.5 tsp nutmeg, 0.25 tsp ground cloves. During the last minute of boil I added one split vanilla bean. It smelled great.


Brewer: - Email: -
Beer: spice Style: Robust Porter
Type: Partial mash Size: 5 gallons
51 HCU (~22 SRM)
Bitterness: 31 IBU
OG: 1.067 FG: 1.014
Alcohol: 6.9% v/v (5.4% w/w)
Grain: 1 lb. 11 oz. American 2-row
1 lb. Wheat malt
.5 lb. American crystal 120L
11 oz. British crystal 50-60L
4 oz. British chocolate
Mash: 75% efficiency
Boil: minutes SG 1.112 3 gallons
5 lb. Light dry malt extract
Hops: 1 oz. Cluster (5.7% AA, 60 min.)
.5 oz. Kent Goldings (6.9% AA, 60 min.)
.25 oz. Chinook (12.2% AA, 60 min.)
1 oz. Cascade (6.9% AA, 15 min.)

The yeast I used was Wyeast 1056, American Ale. I brewed with this yeast about a month ago. I saved a bit from the starter and placed it in a sanitized beer bottle and capped it. I stored it in my fridge for almost a month. I made another yeast starter and rejuvenated the yeast. Hopefully it is still healthy enough to make good beer. We will see.


Aaron said...

Sounds like a great recipe, although I might have just put the vanilla bean in the secondary instead of boiling. How's the vanilla flavor? Pretty strong, or not so much?

Here's a recipe I've come up with for my Winter Ale:

-10 lbs Maris Otter (Thomas Crisp, UK)
-2 lbs Wheat Malt (Dingemans, DE)
-1.5 lbs Caramunich (Weyermann, DE)
-0.25 lb Roast Barley (Simpsons, UK)
-1 lb Rye (US)

Step Mash: 111F for 30 min, 154F for 60 min, 168F for 5 min

OG was around 1.080, but I'm not confident in my hydrometer. I'll be replacing that one soon.

-2.0 OZ Spalt Spalter (T-60)
-0.5 OZ Hersbruck Hersbrucker (T-30)
-0.5 OZ Hersbruck Hersbrucker (T-5)

Extended boil for maillard rxn products (and caramelization, depending upon who you talk to...)

and then the really strange part:
-Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan, for the banana and clove flavors it yields. This is supposed to be a "spicy" winter ale, right?

-1 vanilla pod added to secondary

Bottling tomorrow!

-Aaron Hefel

Chemgeek said...


That sounds like a very interesting beer.

For mine, adding the vanilla bean during the last minute of boil yielded very little in the way of vanilla flavor or aroma. I was disappointed. The nutmeg and cinnamon seem to over power what little there is. I LOVE the vanilla flavor from the bean, but this didn't work. I'm 3-4 days from bottling. You have inspired me. I am going to add another vanilla bean right now. I found an old bean in my cupboard. I'm going to boil it for a couple of minutes and throw it into the secondary. I don't think it can hurt it any.

Thanks for the comment.

Aren said...

Hey, I was wondering how the vanilla bean in the secondary approach worked. Better than in the boil?

Aren, Fellow Chemist

Chemgeek said...


I just so happened to finish the last of my spiced ale last night, and I thought to myself "where is the vanilla flavor?"

The vanilla bean in the 2° did not seem to do much. However, it may have been over powered by the nutmeg or cinnamon. Both of those were a tad too strong for my tastes.

I should point out that instead of boiling the bean, I chopped it up and soaked it in vodka overnight.

I'm contemplating making a standard porter and throwing a bean in just to see what happens.

Krusty said...

I made a similar beer and made a tea that I added at bottling. I took 1.5 cups of water and boiled with the vanilla bean and other spices for twenty minutes covered Then cooled and added to bottling bucket. The vanilla came through perfectly.