Highland Holiday Ale

Highland Holiday Ale

(5 gallons/19 L, partial mash)
OG = 1.068  FG = 1.018
IBU = 30  SRM = 22  ABV = 7%

3 lbs. (1.4 kg) amber dried malt extract
3 lbs. (1.4 kg) traditional dark dried malt extract
2 lbs. (0.91 kg)  2-row pale malt
3 oz. (85 g) peat smoked malt
8 oz. (227 g) extra dark crystal malt (120° L)
8 oz. (227 g) Munich malt
2 oz. (57 g) roasted barley
4 oz. (113 g) dark brown sugar
8 AAU Challenger hop pellets (90 min.) (1 oz./28 g at 8% alpha acids)
0.25 oz. (7 g) freshly grated ginger (0 min.)
0.25 oz. (7 g) dried rosemary leaves (0 min.)
Pinch fennel seeds (0 min.)
Wyeast 1728 (Scottish Ale) or Mangrove Jack’s M15 (Empire Ale) or Lallemand Nottingham yeast
2/3 cup corn sugar (if priming)

Step by Step
Heat 1.5 gal. (5.7 L) of water to 166 °F (74 °F) and mash in the crushed pale, peated, crystal, and Munich malts along with roasted barley. Mash should settle to about 155 °F (68 °C). Hold 60 min. then wash grains with 2 gal. (7.6 L) water at 170 °F (77 °C). To the kettle add 1 gal. (4 L) of water, the dried malt extract, and the brown sugar. Bring to a boil, add Challenger pellets, and boil 90 min. Turn off the heat and steep (in a mesh bag for ease of straining) the ginger, rosemary, and fennel. Leave standing 30 min., remove herbs, and cool. Put into the fermenter and top off with water to make 5.25 gal (20 L). At 65 °F (18 °C) pitch yeast. Ferment cool (63 °F/17 °C if possible) for 10 days, rack to secondary if you so desire and condition even cooler (55 °F/13 °C) for two to three weeks. Keg and force carbonate or prime with corn sugar and bottle condition for one to three weeks.

Brewing Notes:

Extract with grains version:
Steep roasted barley, peated, and dark crystal malts as above in 3 gal. (11 L) of water, heat gradually to 170 °F (77 °F), and remove grains. Add 4 lbs. (1.8 kg) of amber and 3 lbs. (1.4 kg) of dark dried malt extract and 8 oz. (0.23 kg) dark brown sugar.

All-grain version:
Mash 11 lbs. (5 kg) pale malt, 2 lbs. (0.91 kg) Munich malt, 1 lb. (0.45 kg) dark crystal malt, 3 oz. (85 g) peat smoked malt, and 4 oz. (113 g) roasted barley at 155 °F (68 °C) for 75 minutes in 4.5 gal (17.1 L). Sparge with enough 170 °F (77 °C) water to collect 6.5 gal (24.6 L) wort in the kettle. Boil to reduce to 5.25 gal. (20 L), add hops and herbs as above.

Peat smoked malt:
Peat smoked malt is a strong flavored malt and is available at most homebrew supply shops. There is no substitute, so if you can’t find it you can just leave it out. Also, it is easy to go overboard with peat smoked malt, so just word of caution if you feel like you have a heavy hand when weighing out the grains.

Herbs and variations:
Substitute heather honey (if you can find it) for the brown sugar. Or use heather flowers and/or lavender (ask your homebrew shop to get them for you) in the herb mix. Be careful with the ginger. It is meant as an accent, not a featured flavor, and a little goes a long way.

Want to play with yeast? This would be really interesting with a recultured slurry of Belhaven or Traquair’s yeast. Or maybe a Belgian Trappist yeast…Hmmm.

Issue: November 1997

A smoky, herbal holiday ale for those looking to experiment with this kind of combination. There are some options and advice available with this recipe if brewers want to tweak this recipe to their taste.