Krampuslauf: Ein Holiday Ale Mit Horns

2016 Krampuslauf bottle label
2016 Krampuslauf bottle label
Original 2013 Krampuslauf bottle label

An annual Christmastime tradition in my Germanic household is the brewing of Glühwein, an alcoholic beverage of hot red wine spiced with clove, star anise, cinnamon, orange, and plenty of sugar. Mulled wine is a popular Yuletide drink with many European cultures, like Sweden’s glögg and the Netherlands’ bisschopswijn. Fun fact: hot spiced wine is first attested in 1st century Rome! (According to Wikipedia and The Oxford Companion to Wine, 3rd ed., 2006.)

Presently being “steeped” in the art of homebrewing, but yearning the delicious, warm, spicy beverage of my youth—er, adulthood—this Christmas season, I thought I’d take a crack at homebrewing a beer based on the family recipe for Glühwein. Furthermore, iInspired by my Ancient Art Podcast’s episode about Krampus, the ferocious Alpine sidekick to Saint Nick, I dub this homebrewed creation Krampuslauf.

My recipe for Krampuslauf:

  • 3.3 lb. (1 can) LME
  • 1.5 lb. light DME
  • 1/2 lb. corn sugar
  • 1/2 lb. Dark Crystal I malt
  • 2 oz. Blackprinz malt
  • 2 oz. Chinook hops (boil)
  • 1/2 oz. Saaz hops (aroma)
  • 1 jar Rubenkraut
  • 1/2 oz. star anise
  • 3-4 sticks of cinnamon
  • peel of 4 oranges [next time use the meat and compost the peel]
  • 1/2 oz. cloves [too much]
  • 0.25-0.5 tsp. Irish moss
  • 0.75 cup (175 ml) corn sugar or 1.25 cup (300 ml) DME for bottling
  • Lallemand Nottingham dry yeast

Adapted from “Holiday Cheer” recipe in Charlie Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, 3rd ed., p. 219-220.

Directions in a nutshell:
Steep malt for 30 minutes at 150-160F in 2.5 gallons water. Remove grain. Add malt extract, Rubenkraut, boiling hops, and boil for 60 minutes. Add anise, cinnamon, orange peel, clove, 0.25-0.5 tsp. Irish moss and boil for 10 minutes. Add aroma hops for 2 minutes. Add wort to 2 gallons cold water in carboy. Top off to 5 gallons. Pitch yeast when room temp.

January 12, 2013 — Brew day
Original Gravity (OG) 1.060 at 75˚F (or approx. 1.064 at 60˚F)

Personal notes:
I forgot to add the Irish moss. Ssh! Don’t tell anyone! I would have added it with orange peel. Had 1/2 oz leftover Liberty hops, so I threw it in during the final 2 minutes for extra aroma.

January 24, 2013 — Gravity Test
1.014 at 60˚F (or approx. 1.010 at 75˚F)

January 26, 2013 — Bottling day:
Final Gravity (FG) 1.012 at 60˚F
(1.064-1.012) x 131.25 = 6.825% ABV (alcohol by volume)

First impressions:
Strong citrus aroma. Almost grapefruity. Perhaps too much orange peel contributes to bitterness. Too much clove. Not sweet enough. Can’t detect Rübenkraut. Anise barely perceptible. Next time less orange and clove, same cinnamon and anise. Lighter base beer? Different hops?

Addendum & Musings

  • Perhaps wise to add Rübenkraut at height of fermentation, per Calagione Extreme Brewing 64: “The later in the process [sugars] are added, the more aroma and flavor they will add to your beer.”
  • Use the fruit of the orange and use a grater to enjoy the zest of the orange without the pith. Pith might be high in vitamin C, but it’s way bitter! (Calagione 97: “The white will add extreme bitterness.”)

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