Skip to main content

2022 Batch 01 - St. Gambrinus Spiced Holiday Ale (Kit)

I purchased a St. Gambrinus Spiced Holiday Ale Kit from Great Fermentations in Indianapolis a few weeks ago and decided to get it made today... a tad late for the holidays, but it will give me a good idea if I like the recipe for next Christmas.

The kit basically comes as a bag of crushed grain with a packet of Northern Brewer hops.  You supply your own spices and order yeast separately.


8.5 pounds Two-Row Brewer's Malt
2 pounds Munich Dark Malt
1 pound Honey Malt
8 ounces Simpsons Dark Crystal Malt

0.5 ounces Northern Brewer hops (60 min.)
0.5 ounces Northern Brewer hops (30 min.)

1 package White Labs Edinburgh Scottish Ale yeast

1 tsp. Irish Moss (15 min.)

0.5 oz. Bitter Orange Peel (10 min.)
2 cinnamon sticks (I used 3) (10 min.)
0.5 tsp. Ground Ginger (10 min.)

0.25 tsp. Allspice (secondary)
0.25 oz. Ground Cardamom (secondary)
0.25 oz. Ground Cinnamon (secondary)

1 Tbsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer added to mash after grain

6.8 gallons of RO water, treated with:

  • 3 grams Gypsum
  • 2.5 grams Calcium Chloride
  • 1.5 grams Epsom Salt
  • 1.5 grams Magnesium Chloride
  • 0.3 grams Canning Salt
  • 0.3 grams Baking Soda
According to Brewfather, the recipe should have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Category:  Spiced Ale
  • Batch Size:  5.0 gallons est., 4.25 actual
  • Pre-Boil Volume:  5.5 gallons est, 5.5 actual
  • Original Gravity: 1.055 SG est. (1.057 SG actual)
  • Pre-boil Gravity:  1.050 SG est. (1.053 SG/13 Brix actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.018 SG est.
  • BU/GU Ratio: 0.255
  • IBUs: 14 est
  • SRM: 14 est
  • ABV:  5.0% est.
Mash Schedule:
  • Mash at 156F for 60 minutes
Boil Schedule:
  • 60 minutes:  0.5 oz. Northern Brewer hops
  • 30 minutes:  0.5 oz. Northern Brewer hops
  • 15 minutes:  Irish Moss
  • 10 minutes:  Bitter Orange Peel, Cinnamon Sticks, and Ground Ginger
  • 0 minutes:  Chill to 68F (or as close as you can get)
Fermentation Plan:
  • Ferment in primary at ambient basement temps (63-68F) until gravity has dropped approximately 67% of the way to final gravity
  • Add Allspice, Cardamom, and Ground Cinnamon
  • Bottle when fermentation is complete
  • Condition at ambient basement temps until carbonated, then chill and serve
Brewing Observations and Notes

01/02/2022:   I'd collected the RO water a couple of weeks back, so that part of the process went quickly.  With the grains already crushed by Great Fermentations, that step could be eliminated as well.  Water flowed freely through the grain bed, allowing me to run the Grainfather pump at about half-capacity, which hopefully will help filter the wort and achieve better conversion... we'll see.

I gathered the hops, spices, and yeast while doing the mash.  I then went to work cleaning and sanitizing a five-gallon fermenter to contain the beer while fermenting.  This time of year, ambient basement temps are well in range for the yeast, so I didn't need to use temperature control for this batch.

I took a gravity reading with the refractometer about 40 minutes into the mash, and got approximately 1.076 SG.  I expected that to drop after sparging (i.e., pre-boil) but I wondered how close we were likely to be to the estimated 1.055 SG Original Gravity.

Pre-boil gravity came up 1.053 SG (or 13 Brix) on my refractometer.  Pre-boil volume after the sparge was a little low, so I topped it off with RO water to hit the target volume before taking that gravity reading.  It will be interesting to see what the Tilt Hydrometer (which I think is a bit more accurate and was recently calibrated) will read once the beer is in the fermenter.

Original Gravity read 1.057 SG on the Tilt Hydrometer at 63F.  Yeast was pitched, along with a vial of White Labs Clarity Ferm to remove gluten and haze.

01/05/2022:  The yeast took a very long time to really start reproducing in the wort.  It was well over 24 hours before I saw any change in gravity via the Tilt Hydrometer, and closer to 48 hours before there was any airlock activity.  Gravity is currently down from the initial 1.057 SG to 1.041 SG, which Brewfather estimates is 38% of the way to final gravity and suggests that the beer is about 2.1% ABV at this point.  Temperature has remained in the 64F-67F range since pitching, which is well below the recommended fermentation range of 65-70F.  I'll be keeping an eye on it to ensure that it doesn't exceed 70F, and will be adding the Allspice, Cardamom, and Ground Cinnamon once gravity is closer to 1.030 SG or about 67% fermented.  (I'm adding late in primary fermentation to minimize the risk of any mold or bacteria gaining a foothold over the yeast.  Adding later could allow some unwanted microbes into the beer that the then-dormant yeast might not fight off.)


Popular posts from this blog

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

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,

Brewing with The Grainfather, Part 3 - Cleaning and Overall Thoughts

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced The Grainfather and discussed how to use it for mashing and sparging.  In Part 2, we talked about boiling and chilling the wort with The Grainfather and its included counterflow chiller.  In this final segment, we'll discuss cleanup and overall thoughts about the device and its usage. Cleanup Once you've pumped the wort from The Grainfather into your fermenter and pitched your yeast, you're well on your way to a delicious batch of homebrew.  Unfortunately, you've still got some cleanup work to do. The cleanup process in my experience will take 20-30 minutes.  It involves the following tasks: Removing and discarding the grain from The Grainfather's grain basket Cleaning the grain basket, kettle, recirculation tube, and wort chiller Cleaning all the other implements used in brewing (scale, scoops, mash paddle, etc.) At the end of the brewing process, there will be hops bags (if you used them), grain and other residu