Every season I want to brew a beer to match... or even out of season I brew just because I want the style. I guess that is part of the freedom of being a homebrewer. Brew what you want, when you want it. I decided a winter warmer would be good for this year. I have never done one before but after the batch this year, I will be doing it again. Probably this same, or adjusted, recipe.
Santa Berry is an ale brewed with Cranberries and Sage. The cranberries came from the grocery store and the sage from the garden. I wish I would have wrote the recipe to an actual style instead of just calling it a Winter Warmer but looking back on it, I'd probably call it a Brown Ale.
When I wrote this recipe I had no idea how I was going to incorporate the cranberries. I did not want to add them in secondary. I wanted to use them in the boil. The last 10-15 minutes sounded like it would be a good idea but when I started gathering the first runnings I decided to pull off half a gallon of it and steep the cranberries in it. Why? Why not! Sounded like a good idea.
I miscalculated the amount of water I needed and I got close to the 9 gallon mark after my second runnings which is far too much for my brew kettle to hold and get a boil without boiling over. Sounds like a reason to upgrade to me! But for the time being, I decided to pull another 1.5 gallons out of the kettle and put it with the cranberries I already had steeping. My intentions were to add this back to the wort in the last 15 minutes of my boil. My concern with this was, well the wort will have been boiled but this that I ran off will not have and the volume may be a little much since there is no reduction... So I decided to boil this one too.
Overall, I think everything I did worked. I kegged it and tapped it the day before Christmas... Maybe next year I need to get started sooner. I wanted to be drinking it on Christmas, not into February. HAH!
Santa Berry has a Deep Ruby appearance and a soft, rocky, a little tan/reddish head. There is a certain sweetness in the nose. Similar to when you smell cranberry juice... don't tell me I am the only that smells just about everything they drink? You can pick up on the ounce of Sage I added at the end, as well.
I thought there was a bit of a burnt taste, maybe from boiling the cranberries for the better part of an hour? But it was not distracting. I think it melded with the bit of sourness and the full bodied maltyness of the beer. I feel I over hopped this beer. As drinking went on they have mellowed out a little bit but not to what I was going for and my first sips of it were almost like this was meant to be a borderline hop bomb. The cranberries and the sage come in on the finish as well.
Overall, I am happy with this beer. A few changes I plan to make in the future but I will be doing everything in a similar process. I have to get gravity readings on it next time for sure.