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Old 09-17-2008, 12:15 PM   #1
celtic_man81
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Default Help With Belgian Strong Ale Please.

Hello all,
I am making a Belgian Strong Ale for Christmas, and I just wanted a few possible suggestions for ingredience. You can find my current layout here: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f73/belgian-strong-ale-x-mas-special-80606/? (along with some explanations for my odd choice of grains).

To go into further detail, I shall explain here why I have chosen my grain bill as I have (but read the link given above first):

5 lb. Canadian 2-row: Is light, like CaraPils. Probably not as light, but still better than nothing.

.25 lb. Chocolate malt: Has the chocolaty-nutty flavour, when used in minute quantities, as Special "B" does.

.5 lb. British 2-row malt: Will give the "malty" tone of CaraMunich.

I will probably add some crystal malt (dark) to the mix as well, for some caramel flavour.

As for the spices, I wanted to have a spicy overtone to the brew, as I have found the great Belgian Ales I have had in the past seem to have this (probably from the yeast, but I wanted to pronounce it a bit more).

Thanks for any hints and suggestion you can give.



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Old 09-17-2008, 01:17 PM   #2
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Okay, here's my take on it.

5 pounds of 2-row base, okay. It isn't anything like CaraPils, but it's actually a far better choice; that much CaraPils is waaaaaaay too much.

Chocolate malt and Special B are nothing alike. Special B is a very dark crystal malt. It gives sweet notes with a slight bitterness and a slight nuttiness; dark fruit flavors like plum, raisin and currant. Chocolate malt is much more sharp and pungent, it has a roasted, coffee-like character, and provides much more color.

Same thing with CaraMunich vs. UK Pale Malt. You're trying to substitute a specialty grain with a base grain. The comparative flavor contributions are frankly incomparable. CaraMunich has a sweet caramel aroma, full flavor and an intense color. UK Pale Malt does not.

Not that the beer as outlined is going to be bad; it's just that your substitutions are making a completely different beer.

Also, Turbinado sugar is not Belgian Candi sugar. Really, sugar is sugar. But you should know that Candi is not Demerara is not Table sugar is not Invert sugar.

These ingredients are all distinct things with distinct characteristics. Substitution must be approached with a certain understanding of those characteristics. Perhaps you'll describe the thought processes which led to your choices.

Bob



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Old 09-17-2008, 02:57 PM   #3
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I'd be tempted to skip the chocolate malt altogether and just call it a triple. It might be dark with the chocalte malt, but it won't taste like a dark strong without some kind of crystal malts

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Old 09-17-2008, 03:03 PM   #4
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BobNQ3X:

I am going by different descriptions for the grains: 1. From the Homebrewing For Dummies book.
2. From the description given at: Home Wine Making Supplies from Clickabrew

For Dummies says, Special "B" has a highly caramel, and nutty flavour.
The Click-A-Brew link says, as part of it's Chocolate malt description, that in small quantities, it has a nutty flavour. So, that leaves the caramel issue; I might add some crystal (dark) malt to the mix.

The For Dummies book says, CaraMunch is a dark crystal malt, and gives a malty flavour. The Click-A-Brew site says that its UK pale has a malty character. I could always add some raisins to fix the fruit-flavour issue (the yeast will help with this as well, if it is fermenting at low temperatures). As for the caramel issue, as mentioned above...

As for the Turbinado sugar, again, just in case I can't find Belgian candi. I've noticed a lot of Belgain Ales will use either/or.

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Old 09-17-2008, 05:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by celtic_man81 View Post
For Dummies says, Special "B" has a highly caramel, and nutty flavour.
The Click-A-Brew link says, as part of it's Chocolate malt description, that in small quantities, it has a nutty flavour. So, that leaves the caramel issue; I might add some crystal (dark) malt to the mix.
Well, yes, both Special B and chocolate malts have "nutty" as part of their flavor profile. However, nothing like that exists in a vacuum. As I pointed out before, the grains taste completely different.

Quote:
The For Dummies book says, CaraMunich is a dark crystal malt, and gives a malty flavour. The Click-A-Brew site says that its UK pale has a malty character. I could always add some raisins to fix the fruit-flavour issue (the yeast will help with this as well, if it is fermenting at low temperatures). As for the caramel issue, as mentioned above...
CaraMunich and UK Pale Malt do indeed give a flavor that could be described as "malty". You'll find, however, that the malty flavors are completely different.

Quote:
As for the Turbinado sugar, again, just in case I can't find Belgian candi. I've noticed a lot of Belgain Ales will use either/or.
Well, sugar is sugar, from a fermentation standpoint. It'll dry out the body. It might contribute some color, but it'll probably be imperceptible.

I suggest you have a malt-tasting experiment, where you gather as many different types of specialty (and base) grains and have a crunch-and-munch session. Take your own notes on what the grains taste like. That'll give you a very good idea of what the grain will impart to the beer. If you haven't got the grains, bring it up at your next homebrew club meeting, or suggest the idea to your LHBS for a promotional/class idea.

Cheers,

Bob
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Old 09-18-2008, 01:04 AM   #6
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Well, thanks for the help.

BobNQ3X:
Your insight was an eye-opener - I kind of figured as much as far as the grains are concerned, but I didn't realize how much different each were.

I'll probably stick to what I have for now, add some crystal malt in there, and throw some raisins in. Unless you can suggest an alternative, like some adjuncts, or grains. But like I said, I'm really constrained for ingredients; whatever you see on that website is what I get.

As for a homebrew club and LHBS, pretty much neither exists where I live. The nearest HBS is about 1hr30min from my house, and they are unreliable, as far as grains and hops are concerned (Forrest Gump would have a field day with this one :P). We do have a Wine Kitz where I live, but they have virtually nothing, except for *maybe* bottles, brew kits, and basic brewer's yeast; no grains, hops. Nothing. So, I have to rely on The Net for supplies. Click-A-Brew is the best I can find for my area, I've looked around, but no luck for anything better.

Canada, it would seem, is more interested in wine-making (yuck), then beer-brewing (I hate my country sometimes ). I can only hope that Canada will suddenly switch interests, so I can make more interesting brews.

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Old 09-18-2008, 01:30 AM   #7
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I would buy Brew Like a Monk if I were you.

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Old 09-18-2008, 01:44 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker36 View Post
I would buy Brew Like a Monk if I were you.
Not sure what you mean. Grow my own ingredients? I'm sort of doing that right now. I have a very small common hops patch in the garden right now, and next year, I plan to buy some varieties online (hops are bloody expensive to buy in my area right now, about $5 CAD for 1-3oz). As for growing grains, I've thought about it, but it seems more trouble then it's worth. I mean, how are you going to make a Belgian malt, or British malt in North America? The soil is different, as well as many other factors. Maybe I'm reading to much into it. I also know very little about roasting grains, except the very basics.
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Old 09-18-2008, 02:34 PM   #9
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"Brew like a Monk" is a book that goes in depth describing the methods and ingredients used by Belgian Monks in their brewing. I reads like a bunch of case histories for a number of the more famous Belgion breweries. Parker is not advocating doing the whole self-sufficient thing. The Monks buy much of their ingredients just like any other brewery. It is a very educational read.

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Old 09-18-2008, 03:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjj2ba View Post
"Brew like a Monk" is a book .
Ah, totally missed the READ part in that sentence. It was about 12 at night when I red that comment. My bad.

I shall check it out.


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