(First, a quick review. Turns out that there was a second version of Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch, aged in congac barrels rather than calvados barrels. It was also delicious. That is all!)
Yes, it's already time to brew the holiday beer! Well, technically, it was time to start brewing the holiday beer back in June, when I brew my Solstice Celebration barleywine. But now that Fog Season has (hopefully) passed here on the Barbary Coast and Indian Summer has arrived, it's time to gear up for production of our holiday beers, particularly since some, like Zwarte Piet, need several months to mature.
I introduced ZP to my holiday lineup a few years back, and it was an immediate hit. It's my homebrewing attempt to reproduce a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout. In this case, toasted oak chips soaked in rot-gut bourbon (my preferred poison is Ancient Age, or whatever they're selling as their "house" brand at Trader Joe's, at around $10 a fifth) for a week or so and thrown into the fermenter for the secondary fermentation. The results were so good that I started aging other holiday beers on chips soaked in TJ's Charles Shaw (AKA Two-Buck Chuck) Shiraz.
The name stems from an unusual bit of Dutch folklore. Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) travels with a servant, Zwarte Piet, "Black Peter," who was apparently a bound demon servitor (see also the German Krampus), but later morphed into a dark-skinned Moor.
Zwarte Piet's job is to put naughty children in his sack, and take them to Spain. (I should be so lucky, or so naughty...) Zwarte Piet has caused some controversy in recent years, as he's depicted with exaggerated Negro features, or portrayed by Dutchmen in blackface, not exactly politically correct in the generally liberal and tolerant Dutch society.
Zwarte Piet Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout
6 lbs domestic 2-row malt
6 lbs domestic Munich malt
1 lb 60L crystal malt
0.5 lb roasted barley
0.5 lb carafa malt
1 cup white granulated sugar
0.25 cup blackstrap molasses
1 oz Falconer's Flight* hops @ 11.4% AA 60 min
1 oz Falconer's Flight 20 min
1 oz Falconer's Flight 5 min
*Originally I used Citra, but according to the boys at SFBC, they're no longer available, at least not to homebrewers. This was their suggested substitute.
White Labs Dry English Ale Yeast WLP 007
Soak 0.25 lb medium toast French oak chips in bourbon for 1 week, add to secondary for 8-10 weeks.