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Old 01-26-2012, 01:04 AM   #1
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Default Building a Belgian Golden Strong/Tripel

Looking for some advice from those familiar with big Belgians. After brewing several porters, stouts, and other "neutral yeast" beers, I'm looking to brew my first Belgians for this summer.

The main inspiration behind this decision was a beer from one of the local brew pubs. "The malt body and fruity Belgian yeast notes compete with an agressive hop schedule. Dry hopped with the very floral Citra hop varital gives this brew the aroma of a seriously hopped-up IPA. 8% ABV" The end result was something that resembled adult grapefruit juice. Very fragrant, not overly bitter, and very sneaky in terms of the alcohol. I'm not looking to recreate this, but use it more of an inspiration.

Having done some reading, I'm leaning towards trying hop bursting to accentuate the flavor and aroma of the hops without creating a bitter bomb. Additionally, I bottle condition, so I'd prefer not to dry hop.

I'm thinking of using the following grainbill--
11 lbs. pilsner
1 lb. Munich
1 lb. flaked wheat
1.5 lbs table sugar

Where I'm stuck is the hops and yeast.

In terms of yeast, all of the yeast descriptions seem very similar. While I'm sure there is no wrong decision, is there a Belgian strain that would be particularly suited to a hop-forward application? (I'm already planning on also brewing a lower gravity saison with 3711 so will have that yeast on hand.)

Second, any suggestion on what hops to use? I'm not necessarily looking to replicate the "grapefruit bomb", but think citrus would compliment the style nicely. One thought I had was using Saphir and Opal to get tangerine/citrus/spicy notes. Another idea was Rakau. (The saison will be with Motueka hops.) Open to any suggestions. However, I'm buying my hops now, so I'm limited to what's currently in stock. (Looking to buy from Farmhouse Brewing Supply.)

Thanks for any advice you can provide to a Belgian newbie.

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Old 01-26-2012, 12:26 PM   #2
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I too am planning a Belgian Golden Strong in the near future. I would appreciate any feedback from folks with more experience with the style. I've decided on Wyeast 1388 for the yeast strain and I'm going with a very simple grainbill of Weyermann pils and a little flaked wheat in addition to two pounds of table sugar. I'm pretty sure noble hops are traditional, I'm leaning towards Styrian Goldings for bitter and a bit of flavor. Fermentation schedule and when to add the sugar are my two big questions. Hopefully the OP and I can get some help!

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Old 01-26-2012, 01:19 PM   #3
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Your grain bill looks good for a tripel. I personally would not use Citra hops in a tripel, but that is my taste. I prefer Styrian Goldings or Saaz hops in my tripels. A BU:GU ratio of about 3:8 is where it should be.

As far as adding the sugar I like to add it after fermentation slows. Usually about 4-5 days. Just boil it up with enough water to make a syrup, cool, and add to the fermenter. This lets the yeast eat the more complex sugars of the wort first, then when you add the sugar later it takes off again.

I like 3787 a lot but 1388 or 1762 would work great also.

Another key to brewiing Belgians is to pitch the yeast at the low end of the recommended temp range and slowly let it rise, but not too fast. Don't let it cool but if you can keep the temp at the higher end of the range it will get all that you can out of the yeast. Give it plenty of time to finish. A good quote from BLAM is : "Let the fermentation finish, perhaps at a higher temperature. It often takes as long to get the last few points of attenuation as it does for the first 80%"

Also, Belgians really benefit from aging, more so than any other type of beer. After you bottle them let them sit for months not weeks to get the best flavor. I have a couple that have been aging for almost a year and they are constantly changing and just keep getting better.

If you are interested in brewing Belgian style beers I would highly recommend getting a copy of Brew Like a Monk. Lots of great info in that book about brewing Belgians.

I love Belgians and brew them often. I usually have one fermenter always filled with a Belgian brew at all times.

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Old 01-26-2012, 10:41 PM   #4
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beergolf,

Thanks for the words of wisdom! That is extremely helpful. Belgians seem like they're a bit more complex in terms of fermentation than what I've been doing. Should be worth it though in the end. Sounds like I should really get my hands on Brew Like a Monk.

The initial plan was to bulk condition in primary for at least two months before bottling. I usually leave anything higher than 6% ABV on the yeast cake for at least 6 weeks before bottling. The higher the ABV or the more complex the ingredient list, the longer it sits. I've found that's given me better beer and am assuming that the extended primary isn't an issue with Belgians.

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Old 01-27-2012, 01:37 AM   #5
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Actually the extended primary is good with Belgians. If you are used to doing longer ferments then great. 2 months is good. I usually do about 6 weeks but the extra time will help. I would do longer if I was not impatient.

Aging after fermentation is the key. Belgians really improve a lot with age. Put them in bottles and let them sit. I give them at least two months.... but I am always impressed what happens with age. Definitely save a couple for long term aging...YUM Taste them at 4, 6, 8 and even longer.

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Old 01-27-2012, 11:02 AM   #6
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Noted. Glad to hear they do well with long primaries. That's been one of my solutions to avoid drinking green beer.

Will have to stash a few of these away for long term aging then. I have a chocolate stout that is similar. Good at three months, great at six, and amazing after a year.

Once again, thanks for the advice. Huge help!

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Old 11-12-2012, 09:32 PM   #7
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Im planning on doing my first Belgian this week so I have been bouncing around related threads looking for info

Since I am not familiar with the Belgian yeasts yet I asked my buddy at the local home brew supply shop what he thought. He said he has made the same beer, a Belgian Pale Ale, with every Belgian style yeast he could get his hands on, using the same grain bill and hops etc. every time. What he found was that every single one was different in its own way, some more peppery or fruity or clove like, but that he never found one that he did not like. They were all good in their own way, and different in their own way, but all produced good results.

So what I learned from that was -Try all of them! lol

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