EspeciallyBitter
One thing that's keeping me pleasantly distracted during these strange times is planning future brews. I'm looking ahead to the end of the year and thinking it would nice to have a collection of beer to enjoy during the winter months.

Out of general interest, how do you guys go about planning your winter brews? How far in advance do you get them fermented and into the keg or bottle? Do you give certain beers longer than others, e.g., dark beers need more time than blonde ales. What do you think the sweet spot is for strong hoppy beers so that they have time to meld but not fade? And what are some recipes you've done that are worth sharing? (Feel free to post them in the recipes section and link them here.)

A few options I'm kicking around are:
  • A thick oatmeal stout, possibly the Snowfall recipe Clib dug up from Beer and Brewing.
  • An attempt at Wadworth's Old Father Timer, which in Graham Wheeler's words is ‘full of hop bitterness with banana and sultana notes’ (BYOBRA 3e., p.187). Thinking either Windsor or WLP039.
  • Something like Deschutes Jubelale, which apparently gets its spice from the hops. Probably use WY1335 because it's fruity.
  • A strong, hoppy blonde ale with a fruity yeast like Wyeast 1318 or 1335 using honey.
  • Adrian's Three French Hens, which sounds incredible.
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Pinto
In general, long ageing is used for high ABV brews because they tend to be hot and spirity in their youth, which mellows with time.  Likewise, storage brews are designed to account for oxidation, so are almost exclusively malt bombs - anyone sipping an old NEIPA knows aroma hops don't age well 🙂

As to your choices, go with a style you like, or choose the clib way and make several styles in smaller quantities; I have three aging recipes I usually brew - my Sammiclaus uber-lager, my Krampusnacht smoked doppelbock and my Crazy Ivan RIS - All normally brewed for next Xmas and beond.

There's likely still time to get something made for this Xmas, but it might not be at its best - I normally aim to brew in sept/Oct for opening the winter 14- 15 months hence.
Beer is like porn - you can buy it easily enough, but its so much more fun to make it [wink]
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GHW
I don’t drink different beer in winter to summer really. Well maybe a bit

But I don’t make anything I think of as a winter beer. I might brew more british styles for winter and hoppier / euro for summer but it’s only a vague notion. I’ve usually got all sorts of things in my stockpile at any point in the year 
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Clibit
One thing that's keeping me pleasantly distracted during these strange times is planning future brews.


Strange times? What do you mean? I haven't noticed anything?  😂


Plan ahead? I never know what I'm doing tomorrow unless somebody tells me. But I'll probably be posting on here and reading some brewing stuff. I guess my planning involves assembling recipes and then I just brew what I feel like whenever I'm moved to brew. I'm usually drinking the beer I was in the mood for a few weeks previously.  But the buried stash does provide some beers that just fit the moment, sometimes!

I'll have a think about recipes. Black Sabbath stout, for winter, would be my gutteral response.  https://www.homebrewinguk.com/post/black-sabbath-stout-10380092?highlight=sabbath&pid=1310296506


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Womble
I do my planning in September and brew through the autumn.  I've never made a really big beer, 7% abv is about my limit.  As I have said before, six months is my rule of thumb guideline.  I have a couple of bottles downstairs that are over 12 months old, a couple of lagers.  They will most certainly be past their best. I keep looking at them and thinking no ... next time.

Edit => I can see what is going to happen next !
Multi-tasking, easy, drink beer and watch telly.
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EspeciallyBitter
Thanks for your input, all. I usually brew whatever took my fancy the month before, but I am trying to think ahead a bit more and ‘lead the target’ so to speak. Now I've been at this for coming on 15 months I think I'd like to get a few beers done in time for the winter. They don't necessarily have to be big, big beers but I am thinking of 7% and over generally. I see all sorts of things regarding recipes for winter warmers and the like, some of which seem fine doing it three months in advance and others recommend at least a year if not several years! Don't know if I have that much patience or if I even have enough room to dedicate to storing beer that won't be drunk for ages, but I was interested to see how you guys here approach it.

I think I need to be more organised in how and where I store my beer. Clib, you're right that having a cache hidden out of the way somewhere definitely helps keep beer out of sight and out of mind so it gets a chance to age and mellow undisturbed. I think our approach is a little similar in that I spend a lot of time making a list of recipes and then every now and then I go through and pick three or four I fancy doing and buy the ingredients to do them. Funnily enough, here is a recipe I added a few months ago to my potential to-do list:
Screenshot 2020-04-03 at 10.37.19.png
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EspeciallyBitter
Pinto wrote:
In general, long ageing is used for high ABV brews because they tend to be hot and spirity in their youth, which mellows with time.  Likewise, storage brews are designed to account for oxidation, so are almost exclusively malt bombs - anyone sipping an old NEIPA knows aroma hops don't age well 🙂

As to your choices, go with a style you like, or choose the clib way and make several styles in smaller quantities; I have three aging recipes I usually brew - my Sammiclaus uber-lager, my Krampusnacht smoked doppelbock and my Crazy Ivan RIS - All normally brewed for next Xmas and beond.

There's likely still time to get something made for this Xmas, but it might not be at its best - I normally aim to brew in sept/Oct for opening the winter 14- 15 months hence.

Cheers for the advice Jeff. It does seem like brewing a year or more in advance is common for winter beers. I guess I thought I was being proactive for Xmas 2020 but perhaps I should be planning for 2021! 🙂And I know you've given advice on parti-gyle before (I think your RIS is done that way, no?).

Point taken about hops and ageing. I was thinking of a mix of the usual darker, maltier beers that are traditionally brewed well in advance and maybe something a little paler and hoppier that could be made two or three months before. My idea of ‘hoppy’ is not necessarily something following the usual fruit punch aroma hops though. I was considering something like the Younger's-style strong ale I made almost a year ago, which relies more on lots of old-style hops that give some nice spice and meld into something quite tasty and hoppy after six months or so, pungent and resinous but not harshly bitter. But an alternative would be a strong blonde ale that's maybe hopped slightly more than a standard blonde would be.
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Clibit
My take is that my strongest beers are 7 to 7.5%, 8% max, and I think these peak a lot earlier than that on the whole. By 6 months they should be in good shape. And probably earlier. They change over time obviously, some are great after a year or longer, but I don't think they need that long. We are all different.
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Womble
As I said Clib, rule of thumb and it's a big thumb
Multi-tasking, easy, drink beer and watch telly.
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EspeciallyBitter
Clibit wrote:
My take is that my strongest beers are 7 to 7.5%, 8% max, and I think these peak a lot earlier than that on the whole. By 6 months they should be in good shape. And probably earlier. They change over time obviously, some are great after a year or longer, but I don't think they need that long. We are all different.

That's kind of my hunch. Big beers definitely need three months or so to really come together (whereas a lot of my pale ales and milds are good to go after two weeks) but I don't feel they necessarily need a year or more of ageing unless you have really bonkers flavours in them or are wine-strength. Possibly winter beers with spice or smoked malts require a bit more and 12% Russian imperial stouts probably do too.

I'm hoping to try and brew some strong blondes and dark winter beers about five months before Christmas and see how they turn out. If they're not done by then, well... I can follow Jeff's advice and keep them for the next Christmas!
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EspeciallyBitter
Womble wrote:
As I said Clib, rule of thumb and it's a big thumb

I like this analogy. Ultimately, if I think my beer is ready then it's ready.
(If I was entering a competition I might feel differently!)
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Womble
Cracked open that latest bottle of 7% IPA, brewed on the 27th of October 2019, it's definitely over the hill. Into the 6th month !
It could do with finishing but I won't manage them all this evening.
Multi-tasking, easy, drink beer and watch telly.
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Womble
Competition ... only time I entered a competition I messed it up.
I think my Citra Gold is getting past its BB date as well.  Shame I couldn't get the boys round to get the stocks down, bloody lock down
Multi-tasking, easy, drink beer and watch telly.
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EspeciallyBitter
Happened across this recipe for 1848 Tetley X3 on Shut Up About Barclay Perkins. I have some Wyeast 1469 that I plan to use soon in a moderate strength bitter and then I hope to use the yeast cake to get a few more beers out of it.

The Tetley recipe seems like a good candidate for a winter beer, something to look forward to in February. Which reminded me of this thread. Of course, I haven't planned a thing! I might have a go at the Wadworth Winter Warmer now that I have some WLP039 in stock. And I am planning on having another go at Adrian's simple stout, which has a pretty short turnaround and it was a lovely brew last time.
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Clibit
That Tetley X3 is much too big a beer for me. But thanks for raising the thread, it's given me a nudge to think about winter beer. I must get two or three suitable beers planned and brewed. An old/strong ale around 6% probably, and a stout, are my initial thoughts. 
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