Bad Santa


It’s back into the brewery my friends…

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A few weeks before Thanksgiving every year, my friend Rich and I like to try our hand at a holiday beer. Holiday beers have become very popular. Some holiday beers clearly have the flavor of the season with cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, pine needles (yes, seriously), and other flavors that remind us of this time of year. Alternatively, and maybe more traditionally, some holiday beers are just stronger, stick to your bones, versions of standard beers. The thought being that people would enjoy a heartier beer in the cold winter months whilst relaxing by the ol’ fireplace.

This year, we opted for the obviously spicy holiday type of beer. It includes Vanilla, maple syrup, and cinnamon. We borrowed this recipe from an award winning recipe we found which sounded good. Of course, we’ve made a few tweaks, and we’re certainly looking forward to sharing it with everyone at the annual holiday party.


OG = 1.085

FG = 1.018

ABV = 8.6%

Bad Santa

By Ron Published: December 9, 2013

  • Yield: 5 gallons

It's back into the brewery my friends... A few weeks before Thanksgiving every year, my friend Rich and I like to try our hand …



  1. Make a yeast starter! This one is very basic and consists of only 2 cups of water and a 1/2 cup DME. Boil water and DME, cool to room temp, add yeast and spin!
  2. Grind the grain to the specifications which work best with your system.
  3. Mash the grain at 152 degrees for 60 minutes, then mashout to 168 degrees for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain wort into boil kettle reserving two quarts separately. Add your cherries to the 2 quarts of hot wort and let marinate. Bring main wort to a boil. Once boiling, add your hops, DME and your maple syrup. Don't boil over like we almost did here!
  5. This beer is more on the amber side of things in terms of color. Most holiday beers tend to be a bit darker.
  6. After steeping the cherries for most of the boil time, strain the juice into the boil kettle at flameout.
  7. Definitely eat some of the cherries. They are delicious after steeping in the hot wort for a while...
  8. Cool wort and add yeast. Ferment at about 62. Add the cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean after a good week of primary fermentation. One to two weeks later, keg or bottle and enjoy the holidays!

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