Yesterday was do-or-die time! As usual, I have way too many projects going. I have a self-imposed taco recipe creation project. I'm training for a marathon in February. I have a job, and this coming week is crunch-time. (We have a major concert this coming Sunday - not that I'm complaining - I'm lucky to have such an insanely cool job!) Anyway, yeah. Lots of stuff.
Over the last few years, I have become disillusioned with the shop-'til-you-drop mentality of Christmas. Along with other members of my family, I have discovered the fun of exchanging homemade Christmas gifts. I still do a bit of shopping (just to say I did it), but lately I've been making most of my Christmas gifts. Though I did start quilting this year (check out this crazy, so-almost-finished project,) the things I do best revolve around food and alcohol. Yep. I've make pickles, beer, peanut brittle, granola, and various other items to give as gifts.
I've been brewing off-and-on for about 3 and-a-half years. I am not an expert by any means, but I enjoy it. I've learned a lot over the last few years. For the most part, I've followed recipes. Not this time, though. Creating recipes? Yeah - NBD - have you seen all these tacos??? O.O So, I made up a beer recipe this time. Whatever.
Anyway . . . back to do-or-die time! It takes about 4 weeks to make beer from start to finish. That's a minimum - not really ideal. Yesterday, I had three weeks and five days until Christmas. It was my LAST chance to make a Christmas beer. I already got a big fail for my non-existent Thanksgiving beer. I was just too busy! This time, though? I so wanted a homemade beer to give to my family on Christmas morning! We like IPAs, so I decided to go with mostly pale malt and lots of piney and grapefruity hops. To give it a bit of a holiday flair, I added some crushed juniper berries, spicy rye, and brown sugar. I can see it working out well. Ha ha.
This is a bit off-topic, but yesterday was also do-or-die time for the marathon. I missed a couple of long runs over the last few weeks. I knew I had to get in a decent run or throw in the towel. So . . . I ran almost 14 miles and then I brewed this beer.
. . .
Don't ever do that. No joke!
Here's the recipe:
Juniper-Rye Christmas IPA
For a 5-gallon batch (about 50 bottles)
For the mash:
10 lbs. pale 2-row malt
2 lbs. malted rye
1 lb. 30L 2-row crystal malt
8 oz. carapils malt
8 oz. rice hulls
For the boil:
1 lb. brown cane sugar
1 oz. Centennial hops (at 60 minutes out)
1 oz. Chinook hops (at 15 minutes out)
1 tsp. Irish moss (at 5 minutes out)
1/2 oz. Centennial hops (at 5 minutes out)
1/2 oz. Centennial hops (at flameout)
1 oz. dried juniper berries, crushed with a mortar and pestle (at flameout)
I used a Wyeast smack-pack (1056 American Ale Yeast)
1 oz. each of Centennial and Chinook hops for dry-hopping
2. Sparge at 170 degrees. (I sparged with an additional 2 gallons of water.)
3. Add the sugar to the wort and do a one-hour boil adding the hops, Irish moss, and juniper berries as indicated.
4. Cool the wort as quickly as possible. I added about 4 bottles (16 oz. each) of cold water to raise the volume to a little over 5 gallons as some of the liquid had boiled off.
Here's my setup. Don't laugh! I have a copper wort-chiller, and I siphon ice water through it using my bottling bucket.
5. Pitch the yeast at about 70 degrees.
6. Ferment at 63 to 68 degrees.
OG - 1.063
FG - ??? - (We shall see.)
Potential ABV - mid to high 7% (ish)
Well, that's as far as I got! My plan is to let it ferment until Saturday (12/5). Then, I'll rack it into a glass carboy and dry-hop it with the 1 oz. each of Centennial and Chinook hops. I've never dry-hopped a beer before. I'll have to read up on that - of course, it's a given that I'll do a short post about it! :)
I'm also going to taste it. If the juniper is not coming through, I may add another 1/2 oz. of crushed juniper berries. We'll see. I'm all for piney flavor, but I don't want it to taste like . . . a gin-soaked pinecone. Hmm.
I'm planning to bottle it on Friday, December 11th. That's rushing it, but I think it'll be drinkable on Christmas. I'll chill a 6-pack of it on Christmas Eve so we can all sample it on Christmas Day.
(Note: Obviously, this is not a complete process for brewing beer. If you've never done it, I would check out How to Brew or Radical Brewing. The first is a great overview of the basics. The second is an interesting read about lots of different beer styles!)
Well, I did it. For better or worse. Parents and siblings, if you're reading this, here's part of your Christmas gift. I hope it's tasty. I have high hopes for this brew!
Wow. I paid for it this morning. What a Monday. Almost 14 miles. Juniper-hoppy goodness. Sigh.
I am so thankful for coffee. It sustains my hopes and dreams.
Ha ha. Well, please feel free to comment. Be kind - I'm not a master brewer! I'm more like a hipster-taco-chef. :)