Hombre(w) Winter Warmer Ale

Winter is in fully swing out here in Korea. On the way to work today there was quite a nice pack of snow on the ground.

For the hours I spend hibernating in my shoebox after work, I now have a box of new beer to drink, specifically made for the winter season.

Ryan and I brewed what we have called a “Winter Warmer Ale.”  Winter warmers are traditionally dark, sweet and strong English-style ales brewed in winter months. They tend to load the malt taste over the hops. A lot of breweries in the US tend to make some sort of seasonal ale. One of my favorites being the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. A wider array of spices and flavor malts are generally added to these kinds of beer.

The last beer we brewed was an India Pale Ale, which is known for being bitter and hop-taste heavy. I guess it was time to change it up. We used some of the same ingredients as our last beer (mostly because of our large hop cache), but instead went heavy on the malting. We still put more hops in than most people, but we allowed the malts to have flavor as well.  To give the beer a darker color and different taste we used English malts, half a pound of chocolate and a dash honey malt to sweeten it up.

To add a bit of a Korean flair, and mostly just for fun,  we used “엿기름,” which is basically Korean malt.  Yeosgileum, as the malt is called in its romanization,  is used for a variety of reasons in Korea, ranging from teas to medicine. However,  it’s not recommended as a replacement for a base malt. Mixed in with our already wide-range of grain in the brew, we weren’t too worried about changing the taste too much.

The brewing process for this particular beer was a little different as Ryan and I used the equipment we won at the brew competition. Using the kettle/mashtun/fermenter combo proved messier than anticipated. We supposedly didn’t need a grain bag, but the mess leftover said otherwise.

After a day of brewing and a week or so of conditioning after bottling, the beer was finally ready to drink. The final product is a dark brown, high alcohol beer to keep by my side as the snow falls.

I managed to bring a few bottles out for Christmas Eve dinner this year, also. It paired nicely with the ham and especially the pumpkin pie.

The label for this beer was nothing but a few changes to the original. I just needed to swap out the sombrero for a santa cap, change some colors and add a snow texture. Easy stuff!

As of now, Ryan and I have one more beer on deck and enough hops and grain to do another, but given the amount of time both him and I have left in the country, we may have to give them out or sell them to some of the other brewers in Korea.

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