Christmas Beer – Gingerbread Saison

Here in Denmark, Christmas beers are a big deal. I’m not entirely sure the entire history but they tend to be all released on one day called J-Dag (Juleøl, or literally Christmas Beer, and Day.) I believe that the entire tradition was started by Tuborg, the National shit beer of Denmark to release their Christmas Beer, which they send reps out to hand out for free on the street. Also, the entire idea of their Christmas beer actually originated with a cute add:

Denmark’s myriad of small breweries have since co-opted the holiday and J-Day events happen in almost all beer-friendly establishments, usually featuring mostly Danish but also Belgian and American Christmas beers. I have gone to J-Day every years since I lived here. I can’t say I really like Christmas beer, even though there’s no established style. My first year here Horn Beer released a pretty good “Christmas IPA” that had some very mild spicing and I stuck with that for the whole season. Usually, it’s something brown with too much added sugar and too heavy a hand with the spices. Last year I had one with a distinct dog-poo nose. Even The Bruery’s version of Danish Christmas Beer doesn’t do it for me.

So what did I decide to brew to celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus and the eternal darkness of Danish winter? A brown beer with spices and molasses. I guess I’m a sucker for punishment, or at least staying out of my comfort zone.

Recipe – Beersmith File

Target Gravity – 1.057

Target IBU – 27

Target Colour – 26.6 EBC (13.5 SRM)

Grain Bill

  • 50% Pilsner
  • 15% Munich 10L
  • 15% German Wheat
  • 10% Biscuit
  • 10% Caramunich II

Hops

  • 26 IBU Magnum @ 60 min

Yeast 

  • A slurry of The Yeast Bay’s Wallonian Farmhouse from Saison 2, my first time brewing with reused slurry!

Additional Ingredients

  • @ 10 minutes 30g of freshly grated ginger and 5 whole cloves in a tea-ball
  • @ 5 minutes 1 ~5 cm cinnamon stick
  • @ 5 minutes 75g Molasses

Notes

I’ve been experimenting with mash thickness to improve efficiency and heat retention, I’ve had good results so far but this time came in way under my pre-boil target which lead me to increase the boil time to 75 minutes and up the molasses from a planned 50g to the final 75g. The measured gravity going into the fermenter was 1.051 meaning this should hopefully be extremely drinkable. I’m hoping for just a hint of spices with ginger being predominant. Full disclosure this was brewed several days ago. It’s rollicking from what was likely a significant over-pitch, but the krausen seems lacking so far. We’ll see, I have a pretty good feeling about this beer despite the general reservations about the style.

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