Christmas Ale

Christmas Ale Recipe

You’re going to want to make this a Christmas tradition. Ginger, cloves, cinnamon, the spicy notes of Belgian yeast—what’s not to love about this recipe? Treat this as a starting point. Make it your own family recipe. You could toss in some orange peel or some nutmeg to mix things up a bit. Egg nog is soooooo 1765.

Recipe Profile

  • Method: 1 gallon BIAB (Brew-in-a-bag), single stage
  • Target OG (Original Gravity): 1.082
  • Target FG (Final Gravity): 1.021
  • Bitterness (IBUs): 35
  • Estimated ABV: 8.1%
  • Boil: 60 minutes


  • 1.75 lbs Belgium Pale Malt (2 row)
  • 1 lb Vienna Malt
  • 8 oz Caramel Malt (60L)
  • 2 oz Honey Malt (60L)
  • 2 oz Dark candi sugar
  • 0.20 oz Saaz Hops at 60 minutes
  • 0.2o oz Styrian Goldings Hops at 60 minutes
  • 3 Star Anise at 20 minutes
  • 0.10 oz Styrian Goldings Hops at 15 minutes
  • 1 oz Fresh Ginger Root (chopped) at 10 minutes
  • 3 cloves at 10 minutes
  • 1 cinnamon stick at 10 minutes
  • 0.10 oz Saaz Hops at 5 minutes
  • Belgian Ale Yeast (Wyeast 1762)

The Mash

  1. Bring 9 litres of water to a temperate of 164°F. Add your grains and give everything a good stir until the whole thing looks a bit like oatmeal. Shut off the heat, cover with a lid, and let it steep at 156°F for 60 minutes.
  2. Then you need to “mash out.” You put the heat back on, and raise the temperature  to 168°F (75.6°C) and keep stirring for 7 minutes.
  3. Remove the grains and prepare for the boil. If you’re using a bag, just pull it out and let it drip near-dry above the pot. If you’re using a colander, strain to remove the grains, preserving the wort, which you’ll add back to the pot.
  4. Check that your gravity is on track and correct it, if needed. You need 107 gravity points for this recipe, and our target post-boil volume is 1.3 gallons.

The Boil

  1. Start the boil by bringing your wort up to a boil. Once boiling, start your timer. Add your bittering hops, as prescribed above.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your sanitizer solution.
  3. Just before the boil is complete, make an ice batch in your kitchen sink. Load it up with as much ice and cold water as you can. Once the boil is over, transfer your pot to the sink to cool your wort to pitching temperature, as prescribed on the yeast pack. Remember to sanitize your thermometer every time you check the temperature.
  4. Meanwhile, thoroughly clean and sanitize your carboy, screw cap, airlock, funnel, and strainer/colander. You want everything to be ready to go once the wort is at the right temperature.
  5. Once the wort is at pitching temperature, transfer it to the carboy by passing it through a strainer overtop the funnel. Do not fill the carboy higher than the one gallon mark.
  6. Aerate the wort.  Cover the fermenter with a screw cap and gently rock the carboy back and forth for a few minutes to mix in some air.
  7. Pitch the yeast! Use sanitized scissors to cut open the package and pour in only half of the yeast.
  8. Seal the carboy by filling the airlock with sanitizer. Fit it in the screw cap. Move the carboy to a dark spot, free of the home’s daily commotion for at least 14 days (but ideally not more than 21).

Bottling Day

  1. Move the carboy to a the countertop, if it wasn’t already there. If the wort got lots of movement during transfer, let it sit so that any stirred-up yeast has a chance to re-settle.
  2. Sanitize everything that will come in contact with the beer: bottling bucket, auto-siphon, tubing, filler, bottles, and bottle caps.
  3. Dissolve 0.59 oz (17g) corn sugar in enough boiling water to dissolve it. Add the dissolved sugar solution to your sanitized bottling bucket.
  4. Fill your auto-siphon and hose with sanitizer before submerging in the carboy. Transfer the solution to a spare container until the beer has completely replaced all the sanitizer in the tubes. Now you can place the end with the bottle filler in the bottling bucket, which should also be on the floor and gently transfer the beer from the carboy to the bucket.
  5. Transfer all the liquid up and the point where it reaches the sediment. Leave the sediment in the carboy.
  6. Now, move the bottling bucket to the counter and siphon the beer quietly into each bottle. When the liquid gets to the very top of the bottle, remove the bottle filler, which will leave the perfect amount of headspace at the top of the bottle.
  7. Cover each bottle with the sanitized caps and cap them into place, or secure your sanitized swing-top caps if using those.
  8. Store the bottles upright in a quiet, dark corner at 65F (18.5C) or so.
  9. Wait 30 days, if you can. If you’re way too curious (I can’t blame you!) try and hold out for 14 days. If you absolutely can’t wait, you can try after 7 days, but the beer really needs at least 14 days to condition.


23 responses to “Christmas Ale”

  1. Brett

    Do the grains need to be crushed, and does this require a blow off before adding the airlock?

    1. Hi Brett,

      Yes, always crush your grains! And I highly recommend a blow-off tube, for the first two or three days, to be safe.

  2. Chet Gratkowski

    Regarding your christmas ale recipe…
    How much star anise should be used ?
    Thank you !

    1. Hi Chet,

      Toss in three whole star anise.

  3. Chet gratkowski

    When do you find it best to add the dark candi sugar in your christmas ale recipe ?
    Thanks !

    1. Hi Chet,

      You can include it in the mash – JL

  4. Eric


    1. Hi Eric, for a 3 gallon, 10%(ish) abv version, I’d go with this grain bill and hops/spice profile:

      1. 5 lbs pale malt
      2. 4 lbs Vienna malt
      3. 1 lbs, 8 oz Crytal Malt 60
      4. 8 oz Dark Candi Sugar
      5. 1.25 oz Styrian Hops @ 60 min
      6. 0.30 oz Saaz Hops @ 60 min
      7. 1.35 oz Styrian Hops @ 15 min
      8. 3 oz ginger root @ 12 min
      9. 10 cloves @ 12 min
      10. 4 cinnamon sticks @ 12 min
      11. 1.25 oz orange peel @ 12 min
      12. 0.30 oz Saaz @ 5 min

      Cheers, JL

  5. Eric

    Thanks joseph! much appreciated! i did your hefe recipie about a month ago. it came out fantastic!!!!! barley an extract brewer…diving into grain thanks to your clear instructions!

    Thanks again!

  6. eric

    One more quick question…if i wanted to add some “oak chips” would i do this after the first week in primary or rack over to secondary? ive read much debate on this topic. some say secondary is a waste of time and other say its necessary for big beers like this.


  7. Michael Prince

    Hi Joseph, When is best to add in the dark candi sugar? during the mash or Boil? if the boil how long into it?


  8. Ed

    Hi Joseph,

    Just discovered your amazing website and am hoping to give this beer a go. I’ve found it hard to find some of the grains… Instead of the Pale Malt, would I be better using American 2 Row or a Belgian Lager / Pilsner malt? Or would both work but make different beers?



    1. Hi Ed,

      Thanks so much for the kind words, and my apologies for the delayed response. I have had a very busy stretch with my day job, so I’m catching up now, if you can believe it. You could go with American 2-row for this one. Good luck!

  9. Donagh

    DO you use dark candi syrup or rocks?

    1. Hi Donagh,

      I have used both, but I prefer the syrup.

  10. josh

    if i cant find dark candi anywhere would dark brown sugar work and how much should i use?

    1. Hi Josh,

      Yes, you could certainly use brown sugar. And use the same amount (be sure to weigh it).

  11. josh

    do i need a two gallon fermentor or will my one gallon be big enough?

  12. Nick

    What should the typical pre-boil/post Mash volume be for your recipes?

    1. Hi Nick,

      That’ll depend on the length of the boil, but for my setup, I have a pre-boil volume of 1.90 gallons for a 60-minute boil, and 2.65 gallons for a 90-minute boil. My kettle tends to evaporate aggressively, so you may need less than I do.

  13. Michael

    What is the recipe if you want to make 5 gallons Of beer?

  14. Minje ban

    I know this is an olD RECIPE
    Ceylon Cinnamon OR Cassia Cinnamon???

  15. Lindsay

    Your booklet says 9.25L for the mash, but the instructions say 9L for the mash…which one should I do? Thanks!

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