Skip to main content

Christmas Ale 2020

 A few months back, I saw one of David Heath's YouTube videos where he brewed a "Fast Christmas Beer" using a couple of methods to reduce brewing and fermentation time.  The recipe sounded interesting, so I decided to brew it for Christmas 2020.  Thanks to COVID-19, I won't have many opportunities to share it with others, but my wife and I will get to check it out.

I deviated from the recipe in the video in that I elected to go for a 60-minute boil rather than boil the hops, orange peel, and cinnamon separately on the kitchen stove.  I also deviated slightly in using a mix of base malts that I needed to use up, rather than the straight up pale malt he used.  Otherwise, this is basically David Heath's recipe.

I also decided to use Lutra Kveik yeast for half the wort and SafAle S-04 for the other half, just to see how the beer would differ with a different yeast.  Heath recommended Tormodgarden Kveik yeast, but also noted S-04 and US-05 as options if you didn't want to use Kveik or couldn't get it.


10 pounds Golden Promise malt
3 pounds and 4 ounces of a mix of 2-row and Belgian Pale Ale malts
13 ounces of a mix of Caramel 120L malt and Special B malt (mostly 120L)
4 ounces Carafa I Special Dehusked malt
0.5 ounces Bravo hops @ 17.5% AA (60 min.)
0.75 ounces Bitter Orange Peel (5 min.)
0.75 ounces Sweet Orange Peel (5 min.)
0.25 heaping tsp. Cinnamon Powder (5 min.)
0.25 tsp. Wyeast yeast nutrient
1 pkg. Omega Lutra Kveik (for the first 2 gallons)
1 pkg. Safale S-04 (for the other 2 gallons)
1/8 tsp. Brewtan B (mash)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B (boil)

5.75 gallons RO mash water, treated with 0.4g Baking Soda, 2.5g Calcium Chloride, 0.3g table salt, 1.3g Epsom Salt, 2.5g Gypsum, 1.2g Magnesium Chloride
1.35 gallons RO sparge water, untreated

Per Brewfather, the recipe stats are:

  • Batch Size: 5.0 gallons (actual 3.9 gallons)
  • Pre-Boil Volume: 5.5 gallons (actual 5 gallons)
  • Boil Time: 60 minutes
  • Mash Efficiency: 59%
  • IBUs: 27
  • Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.060 SG (actual 1.056 SG)
  • Original Gravity: 1.066 SG (actual 1.059 SG)
  • Final Gravity: 1.015 SG estimated (Lutra), 1.017 SG estimated (S-04)
  • ABV: 7.0% estimated (Lutra), 5.7% estimated (S-04)
  • Fermenters Used:  Mandalorian, Nomad
  • Tilt Hydrometer Used:  Black for Mandalorian, Green for Nomad
Mash Schedule is simple.  I began adding the grain as The Grainfather reached 120F on its way to heating to 156F.  Once 156F was reached, I mashed the grain for 45 minutes.  An iodine test indicated conversion was complete by that time and I began sparging while heating to a boil.

Boil Schedule:
  • 60 minutes:  Add Bravo hops
  • 20 minutes:  Add Brewtan B
  • 15 minutes:  Add Whirlfloc tablet and Yeast Nutrient
  • 5 minutes:  Add Cinnamon, Sweet and Bitter Orange Peel
  • 0 minutes:  Chill
Fermentation Plan:
  • Split the wort into half-size batches in different fermenters
  • Pitch Lutra in one fermenter and heat to 90F (which Omega says is its optimal temperature), holding there until complete
  • Pitch S-04 in the other fermenter and hold at ambient 65-68F basement temp until complete
Post-Brew Notes and Observations

12/06/2020:  I had some trouble during the sparge. After adding the last of the water, it seemed like the sparge was going too slowly.  It wasn't stuck, just very slow.  I tilted the grain basket to have a look, which popped the ring (which holds the mash basket in place) out of the rim of The Grainfather.  I couldn't pop the ring back in place while also holding the mash basket, so I moved the mash basket to the sink.  This caused me to lose some amount of wort, however much was still in the grain and which had not yet drained out... I'd estimate maybe a quart or two.  This lost some volume. (The sink was dirty and I didn't feel right putting the grain basket back on the kettle.)

12/07/2020:  Both batches are showing signs of activity.  The S-04 batch dropped from 1.059 SG to 1.055 SG.  The Lutra Kveik batch dropped all the way to 1.045 SG.  

12/23/2020:  The S-04 batch is reading 1.007 SG.  The Lutra batch is reading 1,013 SG.

12/26/2020:  Both batches were bottled today with two small Brewer's Best carbonation tablets per bottle.


Popular posts from this blog

Grainfather Specifications for BeerSmith, Beer Tools Pro, and Other Software

Recently, I've been trying to "dial in" settings in BeerSmith and Beer Tools Pro so that I can do a better job getting my actual brewing results to match up to the figures in the software. Below are some of the figures I've worked out with my US Grainfather. Given manufacturing variances and possible measuring errors on my part, these might not match exactly to yours, but hopefully they're close enough that it will help you. BeerSmith Equipment Profile: Brewhouse Efficiency: 83% (based on my experience, yours may vary) Mash Tun Volume: 8 gallons Mash Tun Weight: 8.82 pounds Mash Tun Specific Heat: 0.12 Cal/gram-deg C Mash Tun Addition: 0 gallons Lauter Tun Losses: 0 gallons Top Up Water for Kettle: 0 gallons Boil Volume: 6.25 gallons Boil Time: 60 minutes Boil Off: 0.40 gallons per hour Cooling Shrinkage: 6% Loss to Trub and Chiller: 0.53 gallons Batch Volume: 5 gallons Fermenter Loss: 0.40 gallons (yours may vary) Whirlpool time: 0 minutes B

Yellow Label Angel Yeast vs. Typical Brewing Yeast

I currently have my second batch of rice wine fermenting with the "magical" yellow-label Angel Yeast from China, and wanted to share some of the more unusual aspects of using it.  If you've never seen or used this yeast, I suspect you're not alone.  It ships in a 500 gram package that looks like this: What makes it "yellow label" is that yellow box you see in the upper left corner of the package.  This implies that it's yeast for distilling (though you do not need to have a still or distill the output to use it).  As I understand it, inside the package is a mix of yeast and other materials which will convert starch into sugar and directly ferment it, without the need for a traditional mash step.  This can radically shorten your brewing time.  For my most-recent batch of rice wine, I heated 3 gallons of water to 155F, poured it over 13+ pounds of uncooked rice straight out of the bag, let that soak for an hour, rehydrated some of this yeast in warm water,

Things I've Learned Brewing with The Grainfather, Part 2

In the last post, I shared an overview of The Grainfather, recommended equipment to use with it, and an overview of the brewing process.  In this installment, I'm going to talk specifically about mashing and sparging. Having brewed over a dozen batches with it, I'm finally becoming very comfortable with the device, the mash process, and how to get what I want out of it. I don't consider myself a "master" of it yet, though. For those who have never done all-grain brewing, I want to provide a quick overview of the mash process itself. Mashing - With or Without The Grainfather The goal of mashing is to turn the starches in the grain into sugars. More specifically, you want to turn the starches into a mix of fermentable and unfermentable sugars that provide the flavor profile associated with the beer you are brewing. A sweeter beer might warrant more unfermentable sugars. A more dry beer will demand few unfermentable sugars. To a great extent, controlling the