10/31/2012

St. Wenceslas Has Returned

Down boy!
Speaking of Christmas beverages, as Lauren mentioned in our previous post, I have been hard at work in the brewery...St. Wenceslas' Winter Warmer 2012 is happily bubbling away in our basement.

I think this has to be my favorite time of year, due in no small part to the multitude of drinking opportunities. Of course there is Oktoberfest, then we have the grape and hop harvests, all new seasonal beers, free-calorie day (aka Thanksgiving), and finally the king of all drinking holidays: Christmas. Well, for me anyway. I fully subscribe to Washington Irivng's (probably fabricated) historical view of Christmas being celebrated in the Victorian English countryside. Inviting strangers and friends alike to drink wassail and feast in front of the warm hearth. Wassailing used to even involve going door to door adult-Halloween-style demanding drink or threatening a curse.

More contemporary are the German Christmas markets, which solely exist to sell hand-made (maybe)  wooden ornaments, and to drink. Basically, these are open air markets in a city square that last for about a month, where you go and stand around in the freezing rain, sleet, or snow while eating half meter long bratwurst and drinking hot mead, hot grog (spiced rum and water), and/or Gl├╝hwein (hot mulled wine). I may have frequented the Braunschweig Weihnachtsmarkt on a pretty regular basis when I lived there.

Anyway, my point is, Christmas is for drinking by the fire (or outside if you are a masochist or German) and preferably with others, whether strangers or family. And aside from all the wine and spirits flowing around at Christmas time, beer is still my drink, so Christmas beer it is! And brewed just in time to be ready by Christmas Eve. You can even make my famous Christmas beer too if you want: just look below those pictures because hey, I just gave you my secret recipe! Don't you just love the giving spirit of the (almost) season?

Grains steeping away in the mash
Grains Steeping away in the mash
Look at that sweet electric brew kettle
Mmmm. Citra hops.
Corriander!
Ceylon Cinnamon, Star Anise, and Cloves

St. Wenceslas' Winter Warmer

Gravity: 1.080
Alcohol: 8.5% (abv)
IBU: 53 (Rager)
Color: Dark brown with ruby highlights

Ingredients (for 8 gal. batch):

Malt:
15 lbs. Golden Promise
2 lbs. Munich II
2 lbs. Victory
2 lbs. Crystal 70-80
7 oz. Carafa

Hops:
1 oz. Citra (15.6% AA), 75 minutes
0.5 oz. Citra (15.6% AA), 40 minutes
1 oz. Goldings (6.9% AA), 15 minutes
1 oz. Willamette (6.5% AA), 10 minutes
1 oz. Goldings (6.9% AA), after boil
0.5 oz. Citra (15.6% AA), after boil

Spices:
3 Cinnamon Sticks, 10 minutes
2 Anise Stars, 10 minutes
6 Cloves, 10 minutes
2 tsp. Allspice (ground), after boil
3 tsp. Corriander (ground), after boil

Yeast: Wyeast 1469 - West Yorkshire (x2 smack packs)

Mash:
Infusion mash for 90 minutes at 157 deg F and 1.25 qt./lb
Fly Sparge for 90 minutes with 7 gal. water at 170 deg F

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