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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.)


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