Recipe: Kekse (Christmas Cookie Mild) – First Self Made Brew!

Kekse cooling in an ice bath

Okay, I’ve relied on pre-fab extract kits for long enough.  Okay, yeah, two batches may not seem like a lot, but when you’re as impatient as I am, and am limited by equipment to one batch at a time (at 3+ weeks per batch), it seems like a long time.  And did I mention I’m impatient?  Strange hobby for an impatient person, but I love it.

So, to the beer.  And with the Christmas season now officially “here,” I figured why not get a holiday brew ready?

I’ll start by saying I got the idea for this recipe from the king of home brewing, John Palmer.  He did a video a while back about doing an oak aged, all-grain, English Mild, and kept talking about how it was going to get a lot of nice cookie notes in the final product.  Well, me being the chubby kid that can’t pass up a good cookie to save his life, I decided to take the idea to the next level, and bring out all the cookie a beer can possibly have.

At least all the cookie a beer can have and not be super-sweet or like drinking an actual cookie.

As for the name, “Kekse” is the German word for…you guessed it…”cookie.”  And, so you’re not pondering it too hard, it’s pronounced CAKE’-seh.

So here’s the recipe:

Flaked oats and wheat after toasting.

Speciality Grains:

  • 1.0 lbs Weyermann Carawheat
  • 0.5 lbs Belgian Special B
  • 0.5 lbs flaked oats (toasted 30 min at 300˚)
  • 0.5 lbs flaked wheat (toasted 30 min at 300˚)

Fermentables:

  • 6 lbs Maris Otter Liquid Malt Extract (at 60 min)

Hops:

  • 1 oz East Kent Goldings (at 45 min)

Yeast:

  • 1 pkg Wyeast 1388 (Belgian Strong Ale)

Adjuncts:

  • 1/2 tablet Whirlfloc (at 15 min)
  • 1 stick Mexican cinnamon (at 5 min)

Vitals (according to the EXTRA handy Brewer’s Friend):

Cinnamon (left) vs. Cassia (right)

Before I go too much further, let me explain something so the laypeople out there about cinnamon.  That stuff you’re shaking onto your toast with sugar in the morning?  That’s not cinnamon.  That stick you have steeping and making the house smell incredible in your potpourri crock?  That’s not cinnamon.  That stuff that’s ladled all over your cinnamon roll? That’s not cinnamon.

That’s cassia.

And cassia is often used in these situations for two main reasons.  1. It’s easier to grow (and thus much less expensive) and 2. It’s MUCH more intense that true cinnamon.  I didn’t want intense.  It’s a “mild” beer.  I wanted balance and delicateness.

I just wanted to make that clear.

Brewday:

November 18, 2012

I finally got myself a fry thermometer for my brewing.  I also fry a lot of things day-to-day, so it will get plenty of use.  I used that thermometer to bring the water up to 165˚ to steep the specialty grains, assuming carry-over would take the temp to the desired 170˚ (which I was a little more cautious about after the previous brewday’s adventure of letting the steeping water getting to a near-dangerous 182˚).

After steeping the specialty grains for 20 mins, I noticed the water never got quite up to that 170˚ I was after, but alas, not a big deal.  Hung around 168˚.  The steeped grain water spelled chocolatey and bready…yet unusually “clean.”  That’s the best I can describe it.  The color was a beautiful, reddish copper.  However, I noticed the larger-than-usual specialty grain bag pulled in a lot of water, so I had to top off the kettle before I got back to work.

Once I got the water back up to a boil, I broke out the Maris Otter extract.  And may I just say…it’s delicious on its own.  I’ve heard other homebrewers openly consider pouring it over pancakes before.  I can now see why.

After mixing the extract into the wort, the kettle smelled like toasty caramel, but otherwise seemingly neutral.  That “clean” aroma again.  A little bit of bread character, but not a lot.

At 45 minutes, I added in the first and only round of hops.  The East Kent Goldings, which are very mild but rather aromatic and spicy, added a spicy, floral aroma to the still toasty caramel smell in the pot.  But the floral notes actually started fading within minutes of adding the hops to the wort.

I decided to make my first venture into clear-beer brewing by adding Whirlfloc to this beer at the 15 minute mark.  For those who don’t know, Whirlfloc is a tablet-ized Irish Moss, which takes the proteins that cause hazy beer to coagulate and sink, leaving a clear brew. So when I added the half-tablet to the kettle, I noticed I was starting to get some of those cookie aromas I was after.  The hops were still present in the aroma, but still fading.

At 5 minutes, I tossed in the cinnamon stick.  Uncut, uncrushed, just raw, intact, cinnamon stick.  I wanted the cinnamon to be there, but not powerful.  The cinnamon aroma mixed beautifully with the toast and caramel and spice already in the kettle.  It seemed balanced at this (admittedly) early stage to the nose.  Exactly what I was after.

But at 0 minutes (flameout), the cinnamon intensified a bit.  More than I had hoped.  I immediately pulled the stick out of the still-hot wort.  Cinnamon is now the dominant aroma.  I hope that fades.

After chilling the wort and getting it into the fermenter, the cinnamon aroma has already calmed down.  I can see the Whirlfloc in action.  Globs of protein are gathering and swirling, waiting for their opportunity to sink.  And with the raw, flaked oats and wheat, there’s going to be plenty of protein to work out.  I’m expecting plenty of trub at the bottom of the bucket when I bottle everything.  Going to have to be careful not to drag that back up.

Assuming I can manage that, and the cinnamon stays calm, I think this is going to be a great beer.

Update: Here’s how it tasted!

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2 thoughts on “Recipe: Kekse (Christmas Cookie Mild) – First Self Made Brew!

  1. Pingback: Tasting: Kekse Christmas Cookie Mild | Metzger's Brauhaus

  2. Pingback: Recipe: Kekse Christmas Cookie Mild v2.0 | Metzger's Brauhaus

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