Adventures in Brewing – Beer #21: Rantlers! Christmas Ale

My last homebrewing adventure started during the pandemic and… wasn’t as successful as I’d have liked. Undertaken on a lark too late in the season to control fermentation temperatures, so the resulting beer developed a distinctly savory umami character (think soy sauce), probably caused by autolysis. Not great!

Anywho, one way to recover from such a mishap is to rebrew a successful beer from your past, and since the season approaches, I’m taking another swing at my fabled Kaedrin Christmas Beer (first brewed way back in 2011). It’s probably the best all-around homebrew I’ve made, and it’s something I rebrewed again in 2016 to similar success. That second attempt did require a lot of substitutions and tweaks from the initial beer, mostly due to ingredient availability. It still turned out great, but for this third attempt, I was able to mostly source what I needed to recreate the original.

Also of note, I stumbled on a pretty great name for my homebrewed Christmas ale: Rantlers! A portmanteau of “reindeer antlers” coined by the one and only Rocky Balboa in Rocky V. Granted, not a good movie, but I love Rocky and this bit is great and it’s a perfect name for a homebrewed Christmas ale.

Beer #21: Rantlers! Christmas Ale
November 19, 2023

1 lb. Crystal 40 (specialty grain)
2 oz. Roasted Barley (specialty grain)
3.3 lb. Golden Light LME
3 lb. Amber DME
1 lb. Golden Light DME
0.85 oz. Northern Brewer Hops (Bittering @ 11.4% AA)
1 oz. Hallertau Mittelfruh Hops (Flavor)
1 tsp Irish Moss
1 tsp Bitter Orange Peel
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Coriander
2 Cinnamon Sticks
3 Whole Cloves
Wyeast 1056 – American Ale Yeast

Homebrewed Christmas Ale ingredients (Rantlers!)

Pretty much identical to the original recipe, with the only caveat being that the Norther Brewer hops came in at 11.4% alpha acids, so I used slightly less (thanks to an uncooperative scale, I mostly just eyeballed it, but it should be good enough).

Same process as well. Steeped specialty grains at 150° F – 160° F for about 20 minutes, added the DME, brought the result to a boil, and added the bittering hops. 30 minutes into the boil, added the LME, and 15-20 minutes later added the flavoring hops. With 5 minutes remaining, I added the spices. After bringing the temp down in an ice bath, dumped into the fermenter, topped off with water, and pitched the yeast.

Original Gravity: 1.065. Assuming 75% attenuation, that puts me at around 1.016 and a 6.5% ABV. This is just about exactly between the two batches I’ve previously made, but I’m definitely a little looser on the measurements these days. Should still turn out great.

For the record, I did forget the Irish Moss because I… don’t know where it is. Ah, the perils of only brewing once every three years. It’s not a big deal in any real way (it’s not a flavor/aroma thing, it’s a wort thing), but I figured I should mention it.

Anywho, I have high hopes for this sucker. Looking forward to sharing some around the holidays. I might also do a fortified version, like I did with Barlennan (that worked more than I thought, but it should be better with a better base beer and bourbon instead of a middling Scotch). Up next on the homebrew front… I’m not sure! I have a bunch of old ingredients sitting around, so I might just make something with those (I’ve long had the idea for a “Clusterf*ck ale” along those lines), but only time will tell…

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