Brewing up a Holiday Beer

Chris Jensen · Dec. 12


I love holiday beers. More specifically, I love giving holiday beers. Nothing says "I appreciate you" more than a hand-made gift into which you put your passion, expertise and time. Except perhaps a hand-made gift that is damn good to boot.

I have been making holiday beers since 2007, when I produced an Anchor holiday clone called "Matt Holiday" to commemorate the Rockies' spectacular World Series run. Sure, by the time I actually passed out the beers, everyone was heart-broken by the events that unfolded, but that's beside the point.
Or maybe not: one of the keys to producing many holiday beers is starting early, as holiday-worthy beers often do well with a little conditioning. Therefore, you may be brewing and naming your holiday beer well before 'Tis the Season.
For the past two years, I've produced a delicious (if I do say so myself) traditional doppelbock named after my father-in-law, who actually fell in love with the style before I did. The recipe for that beer is below. A doppelbock embodies all of the key elements of a great holiday beer: rich, complex, high in alcohol and great with age (i.e. well suited to verticals). For each of the two years I brewed it, I brewed that beer in January, 11 months before Christmas. I gave it about a month in primary, 6-7 months lagering in secondary and a few months in the bottle. So, yeah, I definitely put my time into those brews.
In part due to that tremendous time commitment, this year I decided to change things up and brew a Trappist-style Belgian strong dark ale, one of my favorite styles of beer (if not my favorite). I'd tried this style before with unimpressive results as I overheated the fermentation, so I always wanted to try it again. And this style, like the doppelbock, meets all the requirements of a great holiday beer mentioned above.
So happy brewing for happy holidays! 
Recipe for Poppy's Doppy:
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0) Super complex; notes of plum, raisins, chocolate. Really a striking beer, great for dessert or with a t-bone steak!

Better than last year overall. Looking forward to watching it age.

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 7.27 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.77 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.086 SG
Estimated Color: 20.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 30.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 68.0 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
14 lbs Munich Malt (10.0 SRM) Grain 1 70.0 %
4 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (1.7 SRM) Grain 2 20.0 %
2 lbs Caramunich Malt (60.0 SRM) Grain 3 10.0 %
1.50 oz Hallertauer [4.40 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 4 25.9 IBUs
0.50 oz Hallertauer [4.40 %] - Boil 30.0 min Hop 5 4.4 IBUs
2.0 pkg German Bock Lager (White Labs #WLP833) [ Yeast 6 -

Mash Schedule: My Mash
Total Grain Weight: 20 lbs
Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash Step Add 30.40 qt of water at 165.6 F 151.0 F 20 min
Decoction 1 Decoct 2.18 qt of mash and boil it 154.0 F 20 min
Decoction 2 Decoct 1.54 qt of mash and boil it 156.0 F 20 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 2.47gal) of 190.0 F water
What's your favorite holiday beer?


blog comments powered by Disqus