Batch 35: Bière de Nöel

Brewed:  Mar 5, 2017

OG:  1.079    IBU:  21

Sadly, this batch was dumped due to unfriendly growth on the surface of the conditioning beer.

Two years ago I brewed what was supposed to be a “Winter Ale” for distributing to friends before the holidays. It was a strong oatmeal stout with cinnamon, vanilla, and dark rum-soaked oak. It sounded great but unfortunately some uninvited bugs took hold and ruined the batch. For 2017 I’m brewing a holiday ale where a greater diversity of bugs are invited. Inspired by such beers as Stille Nacht Reserva (though making no claim to be in the same realm of deliciousness), this is essentially a bière de garde fortified with dark sugar and aged with brett C and port oak.

For a 5.0 gal batch size:

10.50 lb   Bohemian Pilsner

2.25 lb  Munich II malt (9L)

0.75 lb  Dark candi syrup (D90)

0.50 lb  Amber candi syrup (D45)

0.50 lb  Caramunich II

0.50 lb  Flaked wheat


Hopping:  0.5 oz Nugget @ 90 mins (22 AAU)


Fermentation:  Primary for 7 – 10 days with Imperial B51 – Workhorse.  Secondary ~6 mo. with Brett C, 1 cup port, 1/4 cup boiled French oak.


Brew Day Notes:  Mashed in a 144F and used low-watt element to raise to 154F over about 20 minutes.  Held at 154F for 40 more minutes, mashed out at 170F for 10 minutes.  5.4 gals mash water in Grainfather, 2.5 gals sparge water heated on stove to 170F. 3/4 tsp of calcium chloride and 1/2 tsp of gypsum added to sparge water. Boiled 90 minutes, good boil. Added whirfloc at 15m, sugar shortly after. Collected 5.1 gallons of 1.079 wort at 59F into the 7-gal Brew Bucket which had the biere de garde yeast cake still in place.

Mar 18, 2017 – Down to 1.015 in primary. Deep amber in colour. Red fruit on the nose along with just a touch of Belgian yeast character. Tastes great, lots of red fruit and caramel / dark sugar character.

Apr 17, 2017 – A hint of pellicle starting to form in secondary. Oh, this was transferred March 27th for the record. Filled a 3-gallon carboy plus two 1-gallons, one of which is only about 2/3’s full.

May 20, 2017 – First sample. Down to 1.013 so far. Aroma is starting to pick up that red fruit skin character from the Brett C. Taste is red fruit with a hint of caramel, and a tartness from the yeast. Has a bit of a red wine character. Not much funk. Not particularly sweet nor dry at present.

May 27, 2017 – Found that the main carboy (not the 1-gallon sampled from above) had some very questionable growth around each of the white nuclei that had formed on the surface of the beer. These growths were green in colour, so the batch was dumped.