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Old 05-03-2013, 12:47 PM   #1
joyceman
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Default Belgian beers essential ingrediants

I havent brewed any belgian style beers other than a wit. I was just gifted some Chimay and was planning on harveting the yeast and trying a batch. I was putting together a recipe and want to get a consensus on what makes a beglian stand out. Obviously the yeast is key, but im talking about malts and hops.

What, beside the yeast, is an essential ingrediant in a Belgian abbey or stong ale?

On malts, most of the recipes i've seen use pilsner malt. Some recipes use 2 row and vienna or munich as well. The specialty malts ive seen include aromatic, biscuit, special b and some caramel/crystals. There seems to be a heavy emphasis on aromatic.

The hops ive seen are across the board. Some use american hops, some british and some stick to only nobles. It seems like nobles make the most sense, probably a Hallertaur or Saaz mix, but Ive seen two many variations to dimiss the options.

Spices are something that pops up in alot of Belgian recipes. I've seen orange peel in abbey ale recipes and strong ale recipes.

Finally candi sugar seems to be in every belgian recipe ive seen in one form or another and something that I assume needs to be in a Belgian recipe.

Any input on the above would be appreciated.

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Old 05-03-2013, 01:24 PM   #2
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My first stab at a dubbel turned out pretty good (even though it was ultimately more similar to a trippel in point of fact). I am trying to shoot closer to Chimay Red for my next one though. I do partial-mashes and partial-boils for convenience sake, mostly.

Here is my specialty grain bill (will mash with 2 lbs of Rahr 2-Row):
8oz Belgian Aromatic
8oz Belgian Caramunich
8oz Special B
3oz English Chocolate
.66 lb. Carahell (I wanted another crystal malt, and this was leftover)

I will be using some wheat DME this time (Chimay lists wheat as an ingredient on their bottle, though most recipes I've seen don't incorporate it)
I will plan to add a pound of wheat DME for the full boil, then add a second pound of wheat DME with 3 lbs of pilsen DME for the last 15 min.

As you mention, I think the Candi Syrup is also an essential piece of the puzzle. I had used clear syrup in my first try because I was worried about it being too dark, but then it ended up too light. I got D-45 this time, and I am thinking I will add a little bit (1/2 cup only) of table sugar for good measure.

I don't think the hops are AS important (particularly, as important your yeast choice), but I think you want noble ones for the spicy/earthy profile as opposed to the floral ones. I will be using .5 oz of Galena for bittering and .5 oz each of Styrian Goldings at 15 min and flame-out.

I am going to wait until I bottle whats in my primary (a third try at a Hefeweizen, which I have been conspicuously less-successful at) to brew this one though. This is mainly to allow me enough time to drink some of my previous brews and free up more Grolsch swingtops. But definitely post your results, because I am really interested trying to more effectively replicate this particular style.

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Old 05-03-2013, 01:36 PM   #3
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I've always used candi sugar on Tripels or Belgian Strong Ales. Pilsner malt as the base. I like hallertauer mittelfruh, Saaz for hops. Styrian Goldings will work too. I've used Munich, Biscuit, and Caramel for specialty. Favorite of the three is Munich. I'm looking to put the yeast front and center. I've never used corriander or orange peel in either

If what you are after is a dark strong, I can't really say. I know there would be more specialty malt variety(Special B, aromatic, etc). and you would swap out the candi sugar for dark. I don't think the hops changes much from golden to a dark. Orange peel and other spices seem to be more prevelant in dark strong. Dark strong is a style on my list, but never made one yet. Maybe this fall.

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Old 05-03-2013, 03:08 PM   #4
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Bottling my golden strong tonight. Whole recipe was based on Belgian Pils and Candied Sugar with very small amounts of cara-pils and aromatic. It tastes pretty damn good so far. Belgians rely a lot on the yeast characteristics.

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Old 05-03-2013, 03:19 PM   #5
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Belgians aren't so big on brewing "rules". Pretty much anything goes as long as it makes tasty beer.

Generally though, the malt bills and hop schedules are pretty simple. Spices are generally restrained and compliment the yeast. Sugar is quite common in all forms.

The one thing that seems to be pretty constant is the general fermentation concept. They tend to pitch in the mid 60's and let rise from there. Temps into the high 70's and 80's are common and will really drive the attenuation numbers. In comparison to big beers from other traditions, belgian styles shoot for very low FG.

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Old 05-03-2013, 05:12 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the responses.

I put together a recipe that Im going to try after I built up a good colony of Chimay yeast...

8 lbs pilsen
2 lbs vienna
2 lbs munich
4 oz aromatic
4 oz special b
1lb light candi sugar

1 oz sterling 60 mins
1 oz saaz 10 mins
.5 Tettnang 1 min

OG in the area of 1070-80 depending on how around 13 lbs hits my efficiency numbers. Ibus in the low 20s.

This is in the area of a strong ale. Little darker than I would like so Ill probably tinker some.

Im going to put together an abbey type recipe, split my starter and brew that the weekend after.

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Old 05-04-2013, 12:19 PM   #7
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Recipe looks great, actually. My only comment would be that it looks almost exactly like what I did for my first batch, which came out LIGHTER than what I was expecting, not darker. If you're going for a 'Red,' I would go with some darker syrup at the very least.

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Old 05-16-2013, 06:24 PM   #8
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Well i changed it up some. I need to start planning ahead and get my online orders set in advance, seems like im always subbing things at the last minute. That being said, I did want a more golden/lighter color and was going to make some changes anyway.

I went with 10 lbs pils and reduced the vienna & munich to 1 lb each. The only specialty grains I used were aromatic and a little carapils. I went sterling at 60/10 and Hallertau at 2. I did a 2 lb batch of light/golden candi sugar and used all of it in this brew.

Had oversparge issues related to my step infusions and ended up with almost 6 gals even after a 90 min boil. My OG was still a surprising 1082, im getting crazy good efficiency numbers lately.

The chimay yeast has been chugging away since sunday. Im going to let this sit until late summer and bottle around 8/10 or so. Thanks for the input.

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Old 05-17-2013, 12:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joyceman View Post
That being said, I did want a more golden/lighter color and was going to make some changes anyway.

I went with 10 lbs pils and reduced the vienna & munich to 1 lb each. The only specialty grains I used were aromatic and a little carapils. I went sterling at 60/10 and Hallertau at 2. I did a 2 lb batch of light/golden candi sugar and used all of it in this brew.
Sounds like a solid recipe, and if you're after something on the lighter side, I'd say your changes were spot on. Chimay white is a great beer, and you'll probably end up with something not unlike it.
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:56 PM   #10
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Looks like a Big Belgian Beer. Keep us posted on how things turn out.

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