Let’s talk about Hygge. Translated from Danish it roughly means: a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being. Folks, I think we’ll need quite a bit of Hygge as we enter this fast-approaching, still-weird Holiday season. Hard to believe we’re already talking about it, but for a homebrewer, thinking about the process of making a beer, it’s practically here! So I’m here to help the homebrewer plan their gift-giving options for the beer and non beer drinkers in their life.
Come to the Dark Side
Maybe you’re just picking up the hobby, or maybe you’ve been at it a while and want to jump in and try a batch of holiday-themed beer. A spiced brown ale? Maybe a rich stout, or fireside porter? The darker beers tend to have their time to shine in the colder months, and it’s a lovely style to jump into.
Additionally, it’s a style that’s quite friendly to the person in your life who has historically said they “don’t like beer”. With many homebrewers and microbreweries turning beer-making into a sort of hoppy arms race, it can leave many would-be lovers of the craft in the dust, thinking that they don’t like beer, when they really don’t like aggressive hop flavor. So every year, I bring out a nice quick extract recipe for a spiced Holiday Ale to spread a little Christmas cheer, and maybe seduce a few more friends to the brew-side. It goes a little something like this:
Dan’s Hygge Holiday Ale (5 gal)
Extract and Adjunct Grains
- 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon (Last 10 min.)
- 1 tsp Ground Allspice (Last 10 min.)
- 1 tsp Groung Ginger (Last 10 min.)
Follow standard extract brewing instructions, first steeping your adjunct grains for 30 mins. until your water temperature has reached 170º then proceeding with the boil, hop, and spice schedule. After the first 10-12 days, feel free to transfer the beer to secondary fermentation. If you are bottle conditioning it should be ready right in time for any Zoom party, Animal Crossing Gathering, or Yule-Log Campfire you have planned.
Now. As someone with a partner who is Gluten Intolerant, my homebrew hobby has often been sadly one-sided. But now I’d like to share a project with you that can help all your gluten-sensitive friends enjoy that cold one with you! And no I’m not talking about yet-another cider.
Clarity Ferm is a product from White Labs that has proven to be something of a game-changer in the Toot Household. Designed to prevent chill haze, brewers have also discovered that it can drastically reduce the gluten in beer, leaving it (according to their research) around/under 10ppm in a majority of beers when given the correct dosage. Just pitch it along with your yeast on brew day, and you’ll bring that loved one back into the beer-loving fold.
PLEASE NOTE: This is not a product for those diagnosed with Celiac disease, as it does not remove the gluten entirely. So, please, if there’s any doubt or ambiguity, consult your doctor before using/drinking.
Maybe there IS someone managing Celiac’s in your circle? But maybe you’re a winemaker? Thought about trying it? But it takes even more time, right? Well, normally yes, but we have a recipe here that may interest you! Bray’s One Month Mead. Brought to you by Bray Denard of DenardBrewing.com, this mead uses Staggered Nutrient Additions (SNA), and a robust Belgian Strong Ale yeast, to give you a tasty Mead in a fraction of the time. Ready in one month, a gift of Honey Wine would be welcome on any holiday table! The best part? Mead gets better with age. So you can deliver some bottles, cellar some more, and have a more complex, refined product to share months from now!
So, okay! We now have a beer or mead, properly brewed for those we love with dietary restrictions, we’ve bottled it up, and now maybe you’d like to consider some nice-looking labels, or otherwise fancy-dressing your choice of bottle. A swing-cap is always an attractive option, with the added benefit of avoiding the more labor intensive part of bottling day, and here at the Carrboro store we have some coupons for 10% off your first purchase for the website GrogTag where you can design and print your own labels. I’ve used them for gifts in the past, and the vinyl printing surface means the labels are MUCH easier to remove than your garden-variety paper, meaning your bottles will come back to you with much less labor involved.
A surprise-delivery of a deliciously spiced but not-overly-sweet Holiday Ale, or tasty Mead can really put some love into what is sure to be an odd Christmas season. And while singing carols is still not recommended, and recreating that doorstep scene from Love Actually is just plain creepy, you can have great fun dropping a delivery on a friend’s doorstep and having a zoom tasting with them. The concept of Hygge can be yours, even in 2020. Cheers!