Winter Warmer ales are like gingerbread and cognac wrapped up in a beer. Start with a good-tasting beer foundation, add some spice on top, and finish with some alcoholic warmth. This recipe clocks in at around 8.7% ABV.
Note: The recipe below is for extract brewing a 5.5-gallon batch. For an all-grain alternative, substitute 16 pounds of pale 2-row malt (such as Golden Promise or Maris Otter) for the pale ale LME. You can add the specialty grains to the mash, or steep them as you would for the extract version. Mash at 152°F. Sparge and lauter the mash into the kettle and bring to a boil, then proceed to step 4 below.
Winter Warmer Recipe
- Wyeast 1028 London Ale
- Steeping Grains
- 12 ounces Crystal 120°L
- 8 ounces Crystal 40°L
- 4 ounces chocolate malt
- 4 ounces black patent malt
- 12.5 pounds pale ale liquid malt extract (LME)
- 1/2 cup molasses (optional), not blackstrap
- 1 ounce Magnum 15% AA for 60 minutes
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon for 1 minute
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger for 1 minute
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom for 1 minute
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg for 1 minute
One day before brew day, make a starter with your yeast.
Heat 1 gallon of water to 170°F. Remove from heat and add steeping grains to the water, contained in a mesh bag. Cover and let steep for 1 hour, then discard the malt.
Bring 3 gallons water to a boil. Add steeping tea from Step 2. Slowly add extract and molasses, if using, stirring. Add enough water to reach a total of 7 gallons. Bring to a boil on high heat.
When you reach a boil, start a countdown timer for 90 minutes. Add hops quantities at 60 minutes left and spices at 1 minute left.
At the end of 90 minutes, remove from heat. Cool the wort to below 70°F with an ice bath or a wort chiller. Remember to keep things sanitary for every stage after the boil.
Transfer the wort to a sanitized fermentation bucket or carboy. Add an airlock and cool to 62°F. Also cool the yeast starter to 62°F.
Once the wort reaches 62°F, aerate the wort and pitch the yeast.
Let the beer temperature rise to 68°F, hold there at least three days, then let it rise as high as 74°F until fermentation is complete.
Bottle or keg the beer. Because this beer is high in alcohol and complex it may take two to three months for the flavors to become balanced.
Basic equipment setup