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Old 11-08-2011, 12:59 PM   #1
rzup
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Default Dry hop on a holiday cherry belgian?

Need opinions on tweaking a recipe. I am usually happy brewing my hop heavy IPAs, but decided to branch out. This will be about a 10.5 ABV belgian. Will probably sneak a few this year, but I imagine this might be a Christmas 2012 beer.

Thinking about a small dry hop and was looking for opinions. I frankly wish I had just upped the saaz in the first place, but it is gurgling away in my primary and I am trying to determine what to increase the hops slightly. Ideally I would like to use what I have on hand. That gives me the choice of Soriache Ace or Challenger. Any thoughts on dry hopping such a beer? Or any other spice/additive combinations I should consider? Maybe their are other profile changes rather than hops?

This recipe is a tweak on a Mad Elf clone I found:
69.4 % 12.00 Belgian Pils 58.8 4.3
5.8 % 1.00 Crystal 40L 4.2 8.0
11.6 % 2.00 German Munich 10.4 3.2
1.7 % 0.30 British Pale Chocolate 1.4 12.0
11.6 % 2.00 Honey 9.8 0.6
Hops:
50.0 % 1.00 Liberty Pellet 3.6 3.6 75 0.208 11.2
25.0 % 0.50 Saaz Pellet 3.4 1.7 75 0.208 5.3
25.0 % 0.50 Saaz Pellet 3.4 1.7 15 0.099 2.5

Used a starter of WYEAST 3787 and 1214

Other stuff to be in Secondary:
5lbs Cherries (2.5 sour / 2.5 bing)
Allspice

Considerations:
Vanilla
Cardamom
Coffee
Black Peppercorns


I know I am not interested in oak, but haven't really set on anything else.

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Old 11-08-2011, 04:06 PM   #2
MrFinstad
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IMHO I think you should let this one ferment out before you worry about adding anything else. If your belgian strain is able to eat its way through all that sugar, which is no small feat, you're going to left with all kinds of complexity; with sour and sweet cherries, crystal and chocolate malts..and the honey you've got plenty of flavor. Especially for a beer that should be aged a few months, if not a year, I'd let the yeast do the spicing for you. If you add any of those hops and spices and let the beer sit long enough to age properly, then most of the spice flavor will be gone by the time you drink it.

The most important variable in getting your spiciness right will be controlling the fermentation temp with the belgian yeast strain. You can get all kinds of spicy phenols that people will perceive as spiciness at the correct temp. Depending our your strain, this might mean going into the high 70's during primary. With a really high gravity wort (I'm guessing you started around 1.170) you're going to really need a lot of yeast cells and some warm temperatures to get to the 1.020's.

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Old 11-08-2011, 04:08 PM   #3
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From what I read hops and fruit do not mix and the recipes I have seen only call for about 8 IBU's. Although I am not expert in fruit beer.

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Old 11-09-2011, 01:05 PM   #4
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Thanks MrFinstad, I had not considered the fact that the dry hopped would be pretty much scrubbed off by the long conditioning period. That makes alot of sense, but I would have thought spicing would be more stable since it would essential become extract in the high alcohol.

Anyone have any experience trying to brew a high gravity spiced beer? Does the conditioning eliminate the flavors? Or is the final flavor outcome too hard to predict?

As I said above I planned to sample once the primary was complete, which hopefully will be about a 8.5% abv. Then add my cherries and allspice in the secondary as well as anything else that seems like a good fit. Anyone else with experience second MrFinstad(which it appears he has plenty, just looking for more input)?

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Old 11-09-2011, 07:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rzup View Post
I would have thought spicing would be more stable since it would essential become extract in the high alcohol.
You're right! the spicing will be more stable compared to the dry hop. However, the perception of the spice changes as the beer conditions and ages. I've seen this in my pumpkin ale; when the beer is young, the malt character has yet to peak so the spice stands out comparatively. Then a few weeks in, when the malt flavor peaks, you get the awesome complex meld of spice and malt. A few months down the line, the spice mellows. I'm not sure why it mellows, but it does.

You might have heard this already, but a great way to spice is in smaller increments. Add a little to the secondary, wait a few days or few weeks, taste the beer and decide if you want some more. You can always add more, but you can't take it away. My theory with spicing belgians is that you're really just trying to work around the yeast character. If you're yeast is kicking out phenols that smell/taste like stone fruit or peppery notes, then work around those. I like the idea of cherries, and you'll have a hard time adding too many of those. But use a light hand on the spices. It seems like quite a few spiced homebrews I've had went way overboard.
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