Christmas Beer - adapting from a kit

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CeeJayCee

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Hello,

I've only just started home brewing. I have a St Peter's Ruby Ale bottle conditioning and a Turbo Cider currently fermenting.

I'm looking to make a Christmas Beer. Having looked through a lot of posts on this forum, it looks like it's sensible to start now and leave it to condition until December.

How does the following sound for a straight-forward but customised beer for a beginner?
I was hoping to do some customisation rather than just do a straight kit.

Ingredients:

1.7kg Can Cooper's Dark Ale
500g Dark Dried Malt Extract
500g light muscovado sugar

350-400g Dried Mixed Fruit
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Kit Yeast
Carbonation Drops

Method:

1) Mix DME, sugar, spices together with 2L boiling water. Bring to boil.
2) Add can Dark Ale kit to pan with DME/sugar mixture.
3) Add Wort to FV
4) Mix Dried Mixed Fruit and small amount of boiling water to remove any nastiness. Strain. Put in bag, add to FV.
5) Top up to 20L with cold water
6) Take OG at 20°C
6) Pitch yeast


Thanks!
 

Obadiah Boondoggle

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Hi CJC

I don't do kits, but it all looks good to me

Well done for experimenting

Don't know what ABV the kit promises, but more sugar would increase this - typical in a Christmas brew

Leaving it so long to condition is exactly right from my perspective

Do you happen to know what yeast strain the kit includes?
 
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dad_of_jon

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to which I added....

650g gs
500g dme medium
230g brown sugar

and I brewed short to 21 litres....
turned out great
 

Redwulf

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Spot on I think except the mixed fruit addition

So with this I would boil 2 cups of water, 1 cup of orange juice and mebbe 100g of brewing sugar in a pan, add the mixed fruit and boil this for 10 mins or so, it will get a bit jammy.

Add this to a fresh bucket in a mesh bag and siphon the fermenting beer on top leaving the trub in the first bucket, give it another week or two till you are happy with the gravity and then package it and leave it till silly season.

I'm going to sit my christmas ale on a couple of mashed up christmas puddings in secondary this year.
 

Clint

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Also worth considering....do you LIKE that sort of brew...to the tune of 40 pints? I don't mind trying a few samples of different ales but over the past few years I have realised getting through 40 pints of some can be hard going. Or...have a party and shift it that way.
 

CeeJayCee

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Thank you all for the replies so far athumb..

Do you happen to know what yeast strain the kit includes?
From what I can gather the kit yeast is "Coopers ale yeast", their own brand of in-house yeast.

...
Thanks for the tip. I was hoping to do a bit more customising, rather than use a completely off the shelf kit. This is only my second beer, so maybe I'm being to adventurous already?

Spot on I think except the mixed fruit addition [...]

Add this to a fresh bucket in a mesh bag and siphon the fermenting beer on top leaving the trub in the first bucket, give it another week or two till you are happy with the gravity and then package it and leave it till silly season.
I currently only have one bucket, so rather than racking off to a secondary it is possible to add the fruit mixture to my primary FV once the initial fermentation has stopped?

Also worth considering....do you LIKE that sort of brew...to the tune of 40 pints? I don't mind trying a few samples of different ales but over the past few years I have realised getting through 40 pints of some can be hard going. Or...have a party and shift it that way.
Yes, that's a good point.
Is it possible to make the dark ale up without any additions (just can kit, DME and sugar), bottle half and then add spices and fruit to the remainder that is still in the FV?
 

Redwulf

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I currently only have one bucket, so rather than racking off to a secondary it is possible to add the fruit mixture to my primary FV once the initial fermentation has stopped?

Yes, that's a good point.
Is it possible to make the dark ale up without any additions (just can kit, DME and sugar), bottle half and then add spices and fruit to the remainder that is still in the FV?
I'd get another bucket, if you are doing stuff like this having a secondary vessel is advisable.

You can dump stuff into primary, but there are risks around dead yeast interacting badly with things like fruit additions. I've done a couple of fruity beers this year and I've always moved it to a fresh fermenter rather than add to the existing one.

You can split the batch and add the extra flavour to the fermentation.

1. You can add the spice to the mixture I described above.
or
2. Make a tincture of spice, fruit and vodka.

Either way you bottle half the Dark Ale and then add one of these to the remainder and give it another week or so before bottling.
 

CeeJayCee

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Thanks for the reply Redwulf. So would the following method be correct?
  1. Mix DME and sugar together with 2L boiling water. Bring to boil.
  2. Add can Dark Ale kit to pan with DME/sugar mixture.
  3. Add Wort to FV. Top up to 20L with cold water.
  4. Take gravity reading. Pitch yeast at 20C ish.
  5. Once initial fermentation complete, syphon 1/2 liquid from first bucket to secondary bucket.
  6. Bottle remaining contents of first bucket as Dark Ale.
  7. Boil 2 cups of water, 1 cup of orange juice and 100g of brewing sugar in a pan, add the mixed fruit and boil for 10 mins.
  8. Put fruit into muslin bag. Add Fruit and juice from pan to secondary bucket.
  9. Leave for 1-2 weeks until gravity stable and flavours infused in beer.
  10. Bottle as Christmas Dark Ale.

Also is there a way to determine the ABV of the fruit-infused beer? I could take a gravity reading once it's in the second bucket, but I don't know how the fruit affects that?
 

Clint

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You really want to to add "stuff" without the risk of contamination...so either soak in spirits or heat/boil.
 

Redwulf

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Thanks for the reply Redwulf. So would the following method be correct?
  1. Mix DME and sugar together with 2L boiling water. Bring to boil.
  2. Add can Dark Ale kit to pan with DME/sugar mixture.
  3. Add Wort to FV. Top up to 20L with cold water.
  4. Take gravity reading. Pitch yeast at 20C ish.
  5. Wait 10-14 days and take F.G, if happy proceed.
  6. Boil 2 cups of water, 1 cup of orange juice and 100g of brewing sugar in a pan, add the mixed fruit and boil for 10 mins.
  7. Put fruit into muslin bag. Add Fruit and juice from pan to secondary bucket.
  8. syphon 1/2 liquid from first bucket to secondary bucket.
  9. Bottle remaining contents of first bucket as Dark Ale.
  10. Leave Christmas Ale for 1-2 weeks until gravity stable and flavours infused in beer.
  11. Bottle as Christmas Dark Ale

Also is there a way to determine the ABV of the fruit-infused beer? I could take a gravity reading once it's in the second bucket, but I don't know how the fruit affects that?
I've tweaked the order a bit, from my reading about adding secondary additions, batch priming etc its better to put the addition in the bucket and the beer to it.
The Sugar & Orange Juice are optional, I'd did it that way when I added the 2nd batch of plums to my porter and I'm very happy with the way it turned out.

In theory you can take the F.G in step 5 then take another after step 8. The difference is how many points you've added. Then when you come to bottle it take a final reading and use the original starting gravity + the difference to calculate the ABV.

So S.G (Step 4) is 1.050 and the Dark Ale F.G (Step 5) is 1.010 so the dark ale is 5.25%
The Mixture might out at 1.013 before you leave it, so 1.013-1.010 means you've added 3 points.
Then when you take the F.G in a couple of weeks it might have finished at 1.010.
So we'd use the Starting Gravity of 1.050 + the 3 points of fermentables we added in secondary to get 1.053 as our S.G and 1.010 as the FG so your Christmas Ale comes out as 5.6% or so.

Thats the theory anyway, It not normally straight forward if the additions don't dissolve nicely.
 

CeeJayCee

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Thanks @Redwulf. I've ordered the ingredients, so I'll get started as soon as they arrive.

Unfortunately they were out of fermenting buckets, so I'll order another for the second stage when they come back in stock (or find another supplier!).
 
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