Norwegian Christmas Ale

Norweigian Christmas Ale

(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.063  FG = 1.016
IBU = 38  SRM = 21  ABV =

7 lbs. (3.2 kg) amber liquid malt extract
1 lb. (0.45 kg) crystal malt (20° L)
1 lb. (0.45 kg) crystal malt (90° L)
2 oz. (57 g) roasted barley
4 oz. (113 g) maltodextrin powder
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) light brown sugar
12 AAU Chinook hop pellets (45 min.) (1 oz/28 g at 12% alpha acids)
0.5 oz. (14 g) Cascade hop (0 min.)
1 vanilla bean, chopped
1 tsp. crushed cardamom seed
Wyeast 1056 (American Ale) or White Labs WLP001 (California Ale) or Safale US-05
3/4 cup corn sugar (if priming)

Step by Step
In 3 gals. (11 L) of cold water, steep crystal malts and roasted barley. Bring water gradually to 170 °F (77 °C) and remove grains. Add to the kettle malt syrup, malto-dextrin powder, and sugar. Bring to a boil and add Chinook hops. Boil 45 minutes, then turn off the heat. Add the Cascade hops and vanilla and cardamom. Give the wort a long stir to create a whirlpool and let settle for 15 minutes. Cool, top up to 5.25 gals., and pitch yeast. Ferment at 70 °F (21 °C) for 2 weeks. Prime and bottle.

This recipe has gone through several permutations over the years, from the first version made from amber DME to an all-grain formulation (9 lbs. (4.1 kg) Belgian pale malt, 0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Munich, 0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) amber malt, with the same specialty malts). To alter the color, change extracts. Use light or extra-light extract (and drop the roasted barley) to get a dark gold to light amber ale, or use dark extract for a brown version.

I like using the neutral ale yeast to allow the malts and spices to come out, but Wyeast 1084 Irish ale will work as well, leaving it more full bodied. Nottingham dry ale yeast is acceptable, too. I envision this as a lager (although I have yet to do it) fermented with Wyeast 2042 Danish lager yeast, and aged cold for three months to make it really smooth.

An alternative for the spices is to steep them in 1/2 cup of vodka for two months and add them at bottling time.

Issue: December 1996

Christmas beers are a long standing tradition throughout the Scandinavian countries. Generally dark and malty, they are often usually brewed in the late summer, early falls months for consumption during the holiday season. Feel free to kick this recipe up a notch or two with more extract or belgian candy syrups if you want to up increase the alcohol percentage.