Beer Style: Specialty and Experimental Beer

Spruce Bock

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Here’s a hearty holiday beer with an unusual spice — evergreen needles. Spruce tips, the new-growth of spruce trees, give a unique, characteristic flavor to beer. This flavor is not “piney,” as many people suppose. Spruce tips can be found through an internet search. For best results, age your beer several months before sampling it.

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Smoked Maple Amber Ale

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An American-style Amber Ale, with maple sap and syrup.  Maple sap is the clear liquid that maple syrup is made from. In this recipe, maple sap replaces your brewing liquor. Maple sap contains 2.5% sugar on average. (In contrast, maple syrup contains around 66% sugar.) If you don’t have access to maple sap, use water and add an extra 1.66 pints of maple syrup during the boil. The amount of German smoked malt called for will only yield the faintest whiff of smoke. For a stronger smoked flavor, try replacing it with some home-smoked malt (we’d try hickory smoke.

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Original Hempen Ale

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An American-style Ale with roasted hemp seeds. Steve Nordahl, former head brewer at Frederick Brewing Company and the originator of this commercial Hempen Ale told the story of how his hemp beer came to be in a 1999 article for BYO. Hempen Ale was originally meant to be a dark beer, with the flavor of roasted hemp seeds playing a large role in the flavor profile of the beer. Note: In the US, it is legal to possess (and brew with) sterilized hemp seeds. (An internet search will reveal multiple sources for the seeds.) These seeds contain only a trace of THC (the active ingredient
in marijuana) and have no psychoactive effects. However, it is possible that consuming hemp beer may cause you to test positive on some modern drug tests. Use your best judgement of your situation when brewing this beer.

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Stonehenge Stein Beer

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When you wish for new brewing gear, do you ever wish for metamorphic rocks? You might after seeing this recipe. Here’s a recipe for steinbier — a beer whose wort is heated by hot stones.

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Mountain Brew

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Jason Pavento wanted to combine his two favorite beverages, homebrew and Mountain Dew. His creation — Mountain Brew — does just that. We’ve fiddled with his procedures a bit, based on our own experimentation, but the ingredients are the same as his original recipe. The beer turns out light and crisp, with some aroma, but not much flavor from the Mountain Dew. And, in case you’re wondering, neither the preservatives or the caffeine seem to bother the yeast. Mountain Brew is also a very easy to make. So, to mangle a phrase from their ads — just brew it!

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Jolly Rancher Apple Lambic

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Jolly Rancher Apple lambic is a dry, sour beer with the flavor and aroma of Granny Smith apples coming from Jolly Rancher hard candies. This latest version of the recipe is based on the results of three brewings. For best results, let the beer age warm for at least three months.

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8 Big Novelty Beers of the Dixie Cup

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Every year, the Foam Rangers host the Dixie Cup homebrew competition. And every year, there is a special novelty beer category that challenges brewers to think outside the carboy. Here are some of the winners.

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Brewing with Coffee

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Give your beer a jolt! Tips, techniques and advice on adding gourmet java to your next batch of homebrew, plus three energizing recipes: Coffee Imperial Stout, Double Chocolate Expresso Stout and Mudhouse Stout.


Lammin Sahti

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The traditional Finnish drink made with malted and unmalted grains along with Juniper as the flavoring contribution. The juniper branches traditionally doubled as a filter screen to help separate out the grains from the sweet wort.

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Sahti and Jalkijuoma

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Sahti was made by women across Scandinavia, where the first brew-running called tupulisahti (strong sahti) was given to the men in the village, while the weaker second brew-running jälkijuoma (“nosedrop” sahti) was for the women of the village.

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Williams Brothers Brewing Co.’s Fraoch Heather Ale clone

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Heather can be found in abundance in Scotland, although not native to the region. Combining bittering properties and aromatic oils, heather can be used an alternative to hops to produce gruit.

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Valley Forge Winter Spruce Ale

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Spruce beer was a common colonial beverage in George Washington’s time and no doubt would have been welcome during the cold winter at Valley Forge.

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