Last Christmas, I gave my rather large family a four pack of homebrewed beers that I made. In the overall scheme of things, it went over pretty well. I ended up putting off a majority of the bottling until the night before Christmas and I still remember the numb burning feeling from bottling over 100 beers outside in the freezing cold with my hands dripping wet with sanitizer.
With a desire to simplify things this year, I chose to focus on making one really awesome beer and package it in a fancy enough way that made it special. My plan was to make a single substantial Belgian style beer and bottle it in a 750 mL corked bottle that can take the high carbonation typical to big Belgian styles. This year’s “Saison de Noel” was brewed mostly because of the Wyeast private collection 3726 Farmhouse Ale that was available at the time and because Northern Brewer was offering a limited edition Saison de Noel recipe kit that intrigued me.
When the holiday season comes around, so do the spiced holiday beers that I particularly dislike. I don’t know what it is, but spiced beers, mostly the baking spice genre (i.e. pumpkin ales) really don’t do it for me. Even when used in a subtle manner, the spices still seem to overwhelm the malt and/or hop profile of a beer. I wanted to stay away from that with my holiday brew.
Using the Northern Brewer kit as a reference and wanting to keep it as simple and clean as possible, the emphasis in this beer is allowing the yeast profile of the Farmhouse strain shine. The high carbonation achieved by priming with 7 oz. of dextrose cuts through the malty sweet body. This beer ended up drying out quite a bit (1.005) pushing the alcohol to 8.8%, meaning this will get a few months in the cellar before it’ll peak.
P.S. Probably the funnest part of brewing a beer to give out as a gift is designing the label. Betelgeuse made the cut again this year.