itle

Brewing ideas for a Winter Christmas

winter christmas brew ideas

Mistletoe and Wine?

No, it's time for some brewing if you get the chance!

But what are some good brews to have a crack at over Christmas?

Depending on where you live, you're either in the heart of winter or you're enjoying t-shirts and shorts under the summer sky.

But if you're at the top of the world, perhaps somewhere in the latitude of the North Pole, winter naturally suggests that it's time for some winter ales!

A winter Christmas the diet might consist of figgy puddings, mince pies, toffee treats, caramel chews and the odd bit of dried fruit. And these food items contain 'note flavours ' that can be fairy good in an ale.

And that's not to forget cookies, mulled wine and other spices like cinnamon and orange zest.

All these things and more can go into your winter beer.

So what am I blathering on about?

Basically I'm suggesting one could make a beer which matches the food fare served on Christmas day!

Let's start with the basics. You're going to need to consider what your 'base beer' should be. Here's some traditional ideas for a Christmas or winter brew:
  • Ales!
  • Stouts, Porters
  • Wheat
  • Scotch Ale
  • Old Ale
  • Dark malty beer!
  • Nut Brown Ale
  • An old fashioned doppelbock 
One you've decided on the base you need to think about how you are going to impart some of those holiday season flavour characteristics.

There are several options to choose from...
  • Spice Up Your Life was not just an amazing mega hit song for the Spice Girls, it's a way of life for many brewers. The beer most suited to the addition of spice is a moderately dark, alcoholic beer (often an Old Ale) that has a good body to complement the cold weather and choice of spices. Just make sure you don't add the spice from Dune or your eyes will go blue! Certainly. never over spice your beer. 
  • A Belgian-style ale can be flavored with cherries and honey. Goes well with waffles, I'm told.
  • This next one may seem odd but people do seem to love a batch of Christmas cookies and if for some unfathomable reason you want your beer to taste like a biscuit, make a sweet ale and a hint of lactic acidic to get that 'warm biscuit feel'. If you're brave add a hint of maple syrup.  
  • If you're going for that classic Christmas cake vibe, why not try using some dried (or zest) citrus peel (orange and lemon), or dried fruit such as raisins or plums?
  • Coriander. It adds a lemony, spicy flavor and aroma. Coriander is typically used in Belgian ales, especially witbiers. Crush the seeds well before adding to the wort.
  • Try a combo of a cranberry and orange zest.
  • Gingerbread spices
  • Juniper berries (wanna make some gin?)
  • Mint (actUally this sounds bloody awful - Ed)
  • Mulled wine
  • Chocolate. There's many a recipe out there that incorporates chocolate.

It's important to not overspice your homebrew! How much spice is too much? 


Let's look to what the much vaunted brewer John Palmer says. For his "Ol' Yule Loggy" Christmas beer, he uses 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, and 1/8 teaspoon each of nutmeg and allspice. You can find the recipe in Palmer's Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew.

When should I brew my winter ale?


If you want to be drinking on Christmas Day, we suggest you brew two months in advance.

That is to say, you should get your brew down by the last week of October so that it has time to bottle condition nicely. There's nothing like a well condition ale so ensure you stick to this time table, especially if you want the characteristics you've worked so hard to product to really shine.

A last few points:


  • When brewing your holiday beer, consider that you might want to use as an additional fermentable such as honey, molasses, golden or maple syrup. 
  • What you may want to use less of is hops. This is beacause a beer with too much hops character would contradict the spices. 
  • You'll have to think of a cool name for your Christmas beer. Ruddolph's Revenge, Sozzled Santa, Who ate all the pies? 

No comments:

Post a Comment