My Jubelale clone is complete.
Just look at that color! Pretty darn spot-on, I'd say. Obviously, I'm thrilled with that. But the real test comes later, of course, when I smell and taste it.
I’ve been brewing for about 10 years. I came to home brewing via the great beers I discovered just out of college in the early 90s. A bottle of Pete’s Wicked Ale I consumed in 1994 was instrumental in my conversion from bad beer to good beer. Once the world of great beer was revealed to me I began reading, following and, most importantly, drinking more and more. That research led me eventually, inevitably to home brewing. A couple of years later and there I was at San Francisco Brewcraft home brew supply store getting acquainted with the intriguing world of yeast and the baffling world of siphons. (They still drive me crazy.)
I consider myself a novice. If you do too this is the blog for you. One of the goals of this blog will be for me to improve, learn and grow as a brewer and hopefully bring those of you who’ve got a lot to learn along in that process.
I live in New Jersey with my wife and two small children. I am a member of the PALE ALES, a Princeton-based home brew club and am an avid customer of Princeton Homebrew.
I write the Tasting Note Tuesday column for Private Tap, where I highlight whatever commercial brew has my attention each week. In addition to Brew Your Own, my writing about beer has appeared in Saveur magazine.
There's an old Christmas song called “Last Month of the Year” (The Blind Boys of Alabama do a rousing version) that runs through the twelve months in call-and-response seeking the month in which Jesus born. They eventually reach December and sing for joy in celebration of the holiday.
And so it is for me. I tick off each month's seasonal releases, paying no mind to maibocks in May. I skip over the kolsches of spring and the saisons of summer and I push pass pumpkin ales in October. All in favor of the Christmasy delights of December.
From George Gale's very English version to the appropriately named Peculiar Yule from Nøgne Ø, to Anchor Christmas and the one I'm trying to clone now – Jubelale from Deschutes, I love the blend of alcohol warmth, fireplace smokiness, hop bite, not to mention the often-present chocolate, dark fruitiness and range of spice that some of the best Christmas ales exhibit. Jubelale hits them all and is a deeply satisfying ale with, I think, broad appeal.
And so I'm trying to make my own version....
I am writing these words over the Thanksgiving weekend. The holidays tend to be a time for reflection and for some they are a particularly bittersweet time of year. And this year I am no exception. The impending year-end got me thinking. And as I consider where I am in my personal, professional and home brewing life I've come to the decision to discontinue this blog. I will be ending my “New to Homebrew” entries this December.
Like this brew, it's time for me to mash out.
I'm sorry to say good bye since I have loved the opportunity to track my brewing trials and tribulations over the last three years. But with an ever busier daily schedule of a full-time job, two kids and a wife who works two jobs, not to mention aging parents, I'm finding it harder and harder to find time to brew, much less write about that brewing....
In all my brewing days I have only ever tried a clone recipe once. A clone, if you don't know, is an attempt via home brewing to recreate as nearly as possible a commercial brand of beer. I've made countless beers in my home brewing career but I've rarely deliberately set out to mirror an existing beer.
The notable exception is my flirtation with trying to make Schneider Weisse at home. In short, it didn't go well.
And now comes my Christmas ale attempt.
I love Jubelale from Deschutes. It's malty, it's hoppy, it's rich without overdoing it. It's thick and boozy but warming not threatening. It's lovely....
My Grodsizkie (or Grätzer) is beige. That's not a color typically associated with beer making. However, it's not off-putting or all that unpleasant to behold, this smoked beer of mine.It's interesting, too, to produce a beer that doesn't look like all the rest.
The head that formed was only okay but I'm not too concerned about that and I'm certainly happy that it's not over-carbonated. In fact, I'd say I got the carbonation just right. It's fizzy, prickly, sprightly. I like that.
It's the flavor that I am concerned about....