Authentic Christmas Ale

I’ve heard people refer to certain styles of beer as a Christmas ale or winter beer, the real style being referred to is a winter warmer. These are sometimes spiced, and by sometimes, I feel like a lot are.

A winter warmer is a malty, sweet beer. The color of this style ranges from brownish reds to nearly pitch black. Many English versions contain no spices, though some brewers of seasonal ales will add a combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and the like.

Could I brew this? Totally! Will I? No! Instead I want to take a sort of winter warmer recipe, scrape the spices AND hops, and add just needles from my Christmas tree. While one might find pine or fir needles in a beer, the most common needles from a tree found in beer is Sahti. This Finnish beer is flavored with juniper in addition to (or instead of) hops the mash. It is often filtered through juniper twigs, which are put in the mash.

The idea for this beer was stolen from that concept where I will put pieces of my Christmas tree into the mash, along with some in the wort for a little steep. The amounts were calculated roughly off Sahti recipes and some people who have actually used pine needles in beer…also guessing and a prayer was a factor.

I never fail.

The brew day video says it all:


Batch Size: 1 Gallon
OG: 1.064
SRM: 17
Est ABV: 5%-ish
IBU: 0
Boil Time: 5 Min

(64%) – 2 row
(18%) – Flaked Oats
(13.5%) – Melanoiden
(3%) – English 60
(1.5%) – Carafa III

60 Min @ 150F
0.2 oz pine needle steep

0.1 oz pine needle steep

Crossmyloof Real Ale

Here’s what went down:

Brewed 12/22/18

Clipped off the needles from the tree and added it to the mash for the full duration, then added some more for a 5 minutes steep. I then fermented it and bottled it two weeks later.

1/19/19 Tasting notes:

4 Comment

  1. Bob Z says: Reply

    Without amounts of grain in grams or ounces, the recipe is useless.

    1. Jason says: Reply

      I go off percentages because I do 1 gallon batches and most people don’t, and brew house efficiencies are different, but yes this recipe is useless as it might not even be the right one. It appears the grain bill in BeerSmith is different than what I had in this post lol. I don’t know what happened. I don’t remember using flaked oats and gravity is different, but regardless, here is what it says in BeerSmith:

      1 lb 8 oz – 2 row
      6.7 oz Flaked oats
      5 oz – Melanoiden
      1 oz – Crystal 60
      .6 oz – Carafa III

  2. Steve K says: Reply

    I had the pleasure of meeting you last night and tasting this beer. It’s as unique as your experiments and oddly refreshing. Thank you for your videos and sharing your brews!

    1. Jason says: Reply

      Glad you got to try it!

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