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Old 02-02-2011, 05:48 PM   #1
zgardener
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Default Dry out a High Gravity Belgian

I'm looking to brew a Belgian IPA for my friends birthday, but as I start to think and play with the calculations, I'm beginning to become a little concerned that I may not get the dryness that I need to match the style without lowering the desired alcohol content. I'm shooting for around 9% or higher abv and would like to have a FG of 1.010 or lower (Making OG around 1.080, give or take).

I know that a higher water ratio to the mash and a long mash around 148 will give me a more fermentable wort and a dryer beer, but will it give the dry finish that I'm looking for from such a high beer?

I'll be making a 3L starter for this so that there will be more than enough cells to get to work, and am assuming 78% - 80% AA. I'm looking at WLP550, WLP570, and WLP500.

Looking to split base malt 50/50 Belgian 2 row and Belgian Pils (6.5 lb each) with a lb of clear candi sugar, about a half lb of biscuit, and 12 oz of Crystal 60

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Old 02-02-2011, 05:57 PM   #2
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Bump up the sugar. Last quadrupel I made had about 22% sugar, by weight, started at 1.095, finished at 1.010. It was "dry enough" but nicely balanced. Also, ditch the crystal malt if you want it to finish dry.

A lot of Belgian beers, like Chimay Blue, for instance, have around 90% apparent attenuation. Just control your fermentation temps, and you won't end up with off flavors from the high amount of sugar.

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Old 02-02-2011, 06:28 PM   #3
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As Nateo said, bump up the sugar. Also, don't do a mash out (if you normally do one). The low mash temp (148 F for 90 min) and the lack of a mash out will allow the enzymes to keep working prior to heating up the wort to proper temp and therefore increase the fermentability of the wort. I did this on my Dubbel and got 87% attenuation (unintentionally....)...

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Old 02-02-2011, 07:12 PM   #4
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Excellent, I've never brewed a Belgian other than a Wit, I had no idea that such a large amount of sugars could utilized in the boil.

Since the biscuit has no enzymes, would any of y'all know if there would be enough surplus amylase enzyme in the 2 row/pils malt to convert the biscuit?

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Old 02-02-2011, 07:25 PM   #5
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There will be plenty of enzymes for the biscuit. Also, you probably already know, but add the sugar near flame-out.

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Old 02-02-2011, 07:37 PM   #6
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I've brewed a triple a number of times that starts out at 1.083-1.085 and has almost always finished between 1.010-1.012. The one time it didn't finish in that range was it got down in the single digits. It's a dangerously easy beer to drink for how high its alcohol content is. Here are a few things I do that I believe help with the attenuation I get.

-As others have said, use more sugar. My recipe calls for 15%, but others use even more with success. Just don't get it much higher than 20%, unless you want to start experimenting. Crystal isn't needed here either. Boil longer if you want a more complex malty flavor.

-Mash even lower. Mashing at 146 would not be unreasonable. I use 148, and while it works for me, if I ever had problems with this attenuating, this would be one of the first variables I'd change.

-I use 3787, and build up a good .5-.75 gallon starter for mine. This yeast gets great attenuation if you treat it right. Don't be afraid to ferment these warm. I just pitch cool (a little under 65F) and put it in a room at roughly 65F and let it do its thing. Sure, it often gets into the upper 70s. That's fine.

-Another trick is to hold off on the sugar additions until after primary fermentation has slowed down. Basically, when you notice the fermentation starting to slow and crawl (probably day 3-6 or thereabouts), boil your sugar in enough water to make a thin syrup. Cool it and add to the fermentor, swirling it enough to make sure it gets integrated. At this point you can move the fermentor do a warmer room, if possible.

-Don't let the yeast drop in temp quickly, especially with 3787. Take gravity readings if you want to cold crash or lager, and make sure you're at a good and stable gravity to do so. I don't really recommend doing either, though many breweries do with great success.

-If your beer starts stalling higher than you'd like, simply warm it up a bit and swirl the fermentor some, a few times a day. If that doesn't work, taste it. If it tastes good, don't do anything silly like add champagne yeast. Numbers don't matter; it's the flavor you're looking for, yes?

-You'll have no problems with the biscuit malt. Plenty of enzymes. The biscuit malt even has a little of its own, most of the time, just not enough to self convert.

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Old 02-02-2011, 07:53 PM   #7
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Thanks Guld, that's all I need. My next question was going to be regarding adding sugar in steps, but you beat me to it.
Are there any tricks for measuring the OG tho when doing so? Take the OG+Syrup gravity= SG in order to calc abv once fermenting is done? There's probably a better way so proportions can be taken into account, no?

I doubt that I'll need to step the sugar additions tho, not looking to go over 10%, but i'll probably use the technique when I brew my barley wine later this month (shooting for 15%).

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Old 02-02-2011, 08:18 PM   #8
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As others have said. Up the sugar to 20%. Plain table sugar works great.

Don't use the crystal.

In the past I've used wlp500, 530 and 550 to make a tripel. All work great. WLP550 is slightly more attenutive then the other Belgian strains.

Pitch a bigf starter and oxygenate your wort.

Start the ferment in the mid 60's and slowly ramp up the temp into the low 70's over a week. Hold it in the low to mid 70's until it finished. Temp makes a big difference in controlling the harsh alcohols and getting full attenuation.

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Old 02-02-2011, 08:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zgardener View Post
Are there any tricks for measuring the OG tho when doing so?
Sugar's pretty consistent in the gravity you get from it, so you can use software (or a chart) if you like. Just keep a measure of your OG and volume and the weight (of sugar) and volume of the syrup. Then all you have to do it add.
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuldTuborg View Post
Sugar's pretty consistent in the gravity you get from it, so you can use software (or a chart) if you like. Just keep a measure of your OG and volume and the weight (of sugar) and volume of the syrup. Then all you have to do it add.
Thanks for the tip, this has been a chief reason for not doing step additions and really big beers in the past (kinda dumb, but I like to know my #'s). Now is the right time to try it out so I can age them all year until next Dec/Jan.
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