Only five months until the Winter Solstice, but you’d never know it by today’s mid-90’s and high humidity. Many of us would trade a day like today for a mid-December chill. Alas, a brewer’s work and schedule require him to disregard the current weather and plan ahead for seasons to come.

Which is why today I brewed a Holiday Ale, destined to be served at the coming winter festivities. Most commercial brewers release a special brew during the holiday season, something different from their normal year-round fare. Many are spiced, most are a bit stronger and more full-bodied to help drinkers cope with severe weather and unseasonable conditions, and almost all are made in smaller quantities and are available for a limited time. Mine adheres to all of those conditions as well.

This year’s Holiday Ale is a Scottish Ale, about 6% abv, with notes of smoke, caramel, juniper and dark fruit. Hope ya like it – hope ya get a chance to try it!

Holiday Ale 2011

5 gallons, all-grain


  • 10 lbs. Thomas Fawcett Golden Promise malt
  • 1/2 lb. 120°L crystal malt
  • 1/4 lb. roasted barley
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 oz. East Kent Goldings hop pellets (@4.5% aa)
  • 1 oz Fuggles hop pellets (@4% aa)
  • 1 oz. dried juniper berries
  • White Labs Edinburgh Ale yeast (WLP028)
  • 2 lbs. black raspberries
  • 2/3 cup corn sugar (for priming)

Procedure: Crush grains. Heat 14 quarts of water to 167°F. Mash in grains, hold 60 minutes at 156°F. Heat another 12 quarts of water to 170°F. Begin runoff and sparge. Collect first 4 quarts of wort, put on to boil immediately and allow to caramelize until the rest of the wort is boiling. Collect 24 quarts of sweet wort in all. Add brown sugar to kettle, bring to a boil. Add EKG hops, boil 30 minutes. Add Fuggles hops, boil 25 minutes. Add juniper berries, boil 5 minutes (60 total) and remove from heat. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Chill to 80°F, take a hydrometer reading. Pour into a sanitized fermenter, splashing well to aerate. Pitch yeast, seal and ferment warm (70°F) for ten days. Rack onto black raspberries in the secondary, age on fruit ten days. Rack again to allow beer to clarify, age in tertiary for three to four weeks. Prime with corn sugar, bottle and age three months.

OG: 1062

IBU’s: 28.7

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