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Old 08-11-2011, 10:53 PM   #1
KG-Brew
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Default First Time Help - Belgian Strong Ale

After reading on here, I'll admit that a big Belgian probably wasn't the best thing to start with. My wife bought me the kit as a gift and she knows i like chimay so she got me supplies for an extract Belgian strong ale. I've done lots of reading on here, bought "Brew Like a Monk" and even listened to Jamil's show on Belgian strong ales...that being said, looking for a bit of help.

I am currently 4 days into primary fermentation. My OG was 1.086 and things seem to be going well so far. I was planning on just doing primary, but after reading I see it might be better (and typical Trappist style), once fermentation is finished 7-10 days, to rack to secondary fermenter and chill quickly for a few days. In brew like a monk the chilling ranges from 32-45F for 4-10 days. Is this recommended?

...and if I go that route, after chilling for a few days, is it recommended to then bottle and age in bottle for a while? Would that aging be done at room temp for a while before finally chilling prior to drinking?

I know, several questions all thrown together, any advice would be really helpful. I'm really enjoying home brewing, just trying to do things right without getting too far over my head. Thanks

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Old 08-11-2011, 11:22 PM   #2
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I'm curious to learn more about this "Brew like a Monk" technique. Edit: Don't they pitch cool and gradually warm up? Sounds like you are talking 12-20 days total duration grain to bottle? Seems like a very short time in primary/secondary for such a big beer. Traditionally around here folks seem to age bigger brews for 2 months or longer. Thinking about doing a big Belgian in a month or two for winter. Welcome to the forum.

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Old 08-12-2011, 12:40 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dnslater
I'm curious to learn more about this "Brew like a Monk" technique. Edit: Don't they pitch cool and gradually warm up? Sounds like you are talking 12-20 days total duration grain to bottle? Seems like a very short time in primary/secondary for such a big beer. Traditionally around here folks seem to age bigger brews for 2 months or longer. Thinking about doing a big Belgian in a month or two for winter. Welcome to the forum.
They do pitch cool then warm up...but then goes to a cold cycle in secondary. From the book...Chimay: pitched at 68, rises to 81 in 4 days, then secondary for 3 days at 32F. They actually ship out really quickly, not lot of aging. I'll obviously have time as they will simply be sitting at my house so I can try one and if it's not ready, then wait. Interested in hearing what others have done.
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Old 08-12-2011, 01:52 AM   #4
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Seems extremely fast to me. What kind of yeast did you use? My guess is by day 10, it will still be fermenting. What kit did you use? In my experience, those extract kits arent usually true to style and it really is heavily dependent on the yeast you used, not to say that you couldn't get a really tasty beer out of this, but a belgian golden strong should have a bit of maturation time...at least a couple months. This can be done in the bottle or in the carboy. I like aging in the carboy. I'm also not sure what kind of FG you'd expect using extract, maybe someone could chime in here but that baby should get pretty dry. I'd take a gravity reading @ day 10 and see what is happening and post back here. I would then suggest a week or two in the secondary before cold conditioning for multiple weeks then bottling. Belgian yeast strains do quite a bit after the majority of fermentation activity subsides.

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Old 08-12-2011, 01:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReverendTenHigh
Seems extremely fast to me. What kind of yeast did you use? My guess is by day 10, it will still be fermenting. What kit did you use? In my experience, those extract kits arent usually true to style and it really is heavily dependent on the yeast you used, not to say that you couldn't get a really tasty beer out of this, but a belgian golden strong should have a bit of maturation time...at least a couple months. This can be done in the bottle or in the carboy. I like aging in the carboy. I'm also not sure what kind of FG you'd expect using extract, maybe someone could chime in here but that baby should get pretty dry. I'd take a gravity reading @ day 10 and see what is happening and post back here. I would then suggest a week or two in the secondary before cold conditioning for multiple weeks then bottling. Belgian yeast strains do quite a bit after the majority of fermentation activity subsides.
I used safbrew t-58 Belgian yeast. I know it goes against what most think...jamil recommended the same on his show so who knows. I def won't go to secondary until fermentation is complete though, whether it be 7 or 11 days.
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Old 08-12-2011, 06:30 PM   #6
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I have done several BDSA's and always have left them in the primary for at least 5 weeks.

I think pulling them off the yeast that soon is probably not a great idea for the average home brew. If it is your first brew don't rush it. With an OG that high you will benefit from a longer primary. But that is just my opinion. Belgians improve with age.

Get anoer fermenter and brew up another batch while this one ages out.

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Old 08-13-2011, 12:04 AM   #7
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I just bottled my first batch ever a week ago and it's a BSGA... I bottled it after 2 weeks and used WLP550 yeast. I plan on letting it age in the bottle a few months before drinking it. However, I used 9 12oz bottles so I can test it without using too much beer. That being said I HAD to crack one after just a week to try my first batch (I know, too early but I'm not opening anymore for awhile). It tastes surprisingly good at this point with decent carbonation. I hope it only gets better with age.

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Old 08-13-2011, 04:08 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Where_the_Redfern_Brews
I just bottled my first batch ever a week ago and it's a BSGA... I bottled it after 2 weeks and used WLP550 yeast. I plan on letting it age in the bottle a few months before drinking it. However, I used 9 12oz bottles so I can test it without using too much beer. That being said I HAD to crack one after just a week to try my first batch (I know, too early but I'm not opening anymore for awhile). It tastes surprisingly good at this point with decent carbonation. I hope it only gets better with age.

Redfern, that's great to hear and the pic makes me look forward to mine! Did you cold crash or lager? Did you secondary ferment?
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Old 08-13-2011, 06:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KG-Brew

Redfern, that's great to hear and the pic makes me look forward to mine! Did you cold crash or lager? Did you secondary ferment?
Being my first batch and not having a 5gln carboy I did not rack to secondary. I simply left it in the primary for 2 weeks and when I reached my TG I bottled. So far it tastes way better than I expected for my first brew and I was impressed with the carbonation after only 1 week. I'm letting this batch condition for a few months and will be brewing a witbier this weekend in order to have a quick turnaround on brew to drinking stage.
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Old 09-20-2011, 09:54 PM   #10
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KG - Any update on your BSGA? I just placed 2nd in a local contest with mine and will be entering it again in December after it ages more. Was quite shocked to find out my first batch ever placed in a comp.

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