Twelfth Night At Toad Hall

This recipe is for a 25 litre batch. Probably an overly cautious approach but I always prepare 50 litres of water when brewing a 25 litre batch, just in case of mishaps. As we’re just starting out on all grain brewing, don’t worry about hitting the exact OG and FG figures I mention below – it’s really not important if you undershoot or overshoot. Instead, just enjoy the process.

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Twelfth Night At Toad Hall is an old fashioned Christmas Ale. Because it is very strong (mine is usually around 10% but another brewer has told me he’s done this recipe and has achieved 12%) I strongly suggest you bottle this in small (330ml) brown glass bottles. It should be bottled because it is so strong and complex that it has to have the chance to mature for at least eight months, and preferably longer. If left to mature for five years in a place that doesn’t suffer from extremes of temperature (for example lofts and sheds are not suitable but a cupboard under the stairs definitely is) this will taste like nectar. It’s another 90 minute boil.

Because the beer is so ‘big’ I strongly recommend pitching a second yeast after primary fermentation is complete. Finally, a word about honey. ‘Plain’, ‘general’ or ‘mixed’ honey doesn’t tend to work well in brewing (beer or mead) because it can give a bland taste. Go for a specialist single blossom type of honey every time. It’s more expensive but in my view well worth it. The last time I brewed this I went for ‘Hilltop Honey Orange Blossom Honey’ available from Holland & Barrett at the time and it worked well in my view.


6260gms any type of Pale Malt

1320gms Munich Malt

920gms dark Crystal Malt

150gms Chocolate Malt

The peel from 7 Clementines (chopped and fresh, not dried)

70gms finely chopped or grated Ginger

3½ teaspoons ground Cinnamon

454gms (a 1lb jar) of honey (see note above for honey specifics) 


White Labs Burton Ale Yeast WLP023 (pitch at primary fermentation)

Sachet of Safale S-04 (pitch just after transferring to secondary fermentation)

Water Treatment

Add one crushed Campden tablet per 25 litres and stir well. Then, as recommended by laboratory analysis – add to the mash 7gms Calcium Chloride Flake, 5gms Calcium Sulphate and 4gms salt. 

Mash and Sparge

Mash in 16 litres of water at 69°C. Add 7gms of Calcium Chloride Flake, 5gms of Calcium Sulphate and 4gms salt at the start of the mash. Once all the wort has been collected, pass it through the grain bed again. I sparge this one at 62°C. Sparge temperature is not crucial as long as it doesn’t exceed 77°C.

Hop and Other Ingredients Schedule

Start of boil: 

10gms Green Bullet @ 13.5 AA and 35gms Goldings @ 5.1 AA

60 minutes from end of boil: 

add 35gms of the Ginger and stir well

15 minutes from end of boil: 

35gms Saaz @ 3.5 AA and 6gms Northdown @ 7.5 AA. Add the Clementine peel, the remainder of the Ginger, the Cinnamon and the honey. Ensure all these ingredients are well mixed in; in particular ensure the honey is thoroughly dissolved otherwise it will sit on the bottom of your pan and burn.


90 minutes. No need to bother with Protafloc in dark beers!  

Fermentation and Gravity Readings

In case you like to use a hydrometer the OG reading I had was 1.098 and the FG 1.022, giving an ABV of 10%. If you don’t want to be bothered with a hydrometer you can rest assured primary fermentation will be complete in three weeks, after which you should siphon off to secondary fermentation, pitching the Safale S-04 at this point, and let it condition for two weeks before bottling.

Tasting Notes

Not a beer to be taken lightly as you’re looking at something around 10% - 12% ABV and possibly higher. The complex spicy Christmas flavours come to the fore, especially after maturing for a year or more. In fact I know of a brewer who does this recipe every Boxing Day in readiness for next Christmas! If you have the discipline and can put away some of these bottles for five years in the conditions described at the top of the page, this beer becomes a magnificent beast. Lovely stuff. The world seems a happier place after two bottles of this and a Merry Christmas is almost guaranteed!