The style is a place for beers that represent a “harmonious marriage of sugar and beer,” in which the base style is recognizable but to which we add a noticeable flavor addition from an adjunct sugar product.
Some specialty categories seem frivolous or unnecessary, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find uses for them in particular circumstances. So it was with my Light Altbier, and the resulting beer is a fun year-round lighter-bodied but fully-flavored option.
Replicating a beer is a different skill set (though it does overlap), but don’t worry too much about making an identical twin – making a great sibling is more than good enough, and who knows, you might even improve upon a classic!
This is an "Americanized" version of an existing style in the colonial sense – brewed using what was available in early America – rather than in the “extreme” sense, as we see with many other styles.
Alternative grain beers don’t need to be excessively complicated or weird to be successful – this recipe (and others in the category) show how base grains can make a significant difference in flavor and improve upon the standard barley-based approaches.
Once you get the process down for your system and palate, you can play around with the amount and type of coffee involved, and you should also start playing around with the styles of coffee beer you brew!
Lambics are hard to get right. They take a long time to mature, so you’re going to need to show some patience. They’re worth it, though. In exchange for a couple of hours each year, you can develop a steady rotation of complex and flavorful sour beers.
One nice thing here is that once you get past the “emergency – need beer” time window, you can lager this beer just like any other. Tuck the bottles or keg away for a few weeks of cold refrigeration to clean up and clear up.
Drink this one as soon as it’s ready. It doesn’t age poorly, but the seasonally-evocative nature of the recipe might make it seem out-of-place. Happy (early) Holidays!
Start working this one into your autumn or late-winter lineup (I like it as a “welcome to spring” beer), and I think you’ll find yourself with a new favorite sessionable lager.