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Old 01-11-2009, 02:27 AM   #1
leghorn
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Default My Belgian Project

Well, I've been brewing for 2 years now, and have evolved to all-grain. I was thinking about my goals for 2009, and wanted to build on my knowledge and have some fun with a series of beers that I could taste in one flight at the end of the year. I also wanted a cool Christmas gift for my beer drinking friends. Thus, my belgian project was born.

Each quarter, I am going to brew a belgian. January it will be a quad, April a Tripel, July a Dubbel, and Oct a Singel. In December, I have a flight of abbey style beers to examine and rumenate over the year, all aged appropriately.

Recipes are a combination from Radical Brewing and my own. I'd appreciate feedback on the recipes and approach toward this project. Here are the recipes:

Jan Quadrupel (derived from Radical Brewing)
10lb Pilsener Malt
4lb Amber Malt
2lb Munich
1lb table sugar
1lb XLDME
2oz Styrian Goldings (60 min)
1.5oz Sazz (15 min)
WLP500 Trappist Ale
2oz Oak Chips soaked in Chardonnay for 2 weeks (secondary)
Mash at 148 for 90 min
OG: 1.095

1lb XLDME and 1lb Table sugar are cooked together in pan until caramelized to preference, and added after boil has started (from Radical Brewing, pg. 166)


Apr Tripel
13lb Pilsener Malt
1/4 lb Aromatic
2lb Clear Belgian Candi Sugar
1.75oz Styrian Goldings (90 min)
1oz Sazz (10 min)
WLP500 Trappist Ale
Mash at 151 for 90 min
OG: 1.086

Jul Dubbel (Derived from Radical Brewing pg. 124) - 60 Min boil
8.5lb Pale Malt
3.5lb Munich
0.5lb Special B
0.5lb Aromatic
1lb Jaggery
1.5oz Styrian Goldings (60 min)
WLP540 Abbey IV
Mash at 152 for 60 min
OG: 1.067

Oct Singel (Derived from Radical Brewing pg. 123)
6lb Pilsener Malt
3lb Pale Malt
0.5lb Aromatic
1oz Styrian Goldings (60 min)
0.5oz Saaz (30 min)
0.5oz Saaz (0 min)
0.5 oz Crystal (dry hop)
WLP500 Trappist Ale
Mash at 150 for 90 min
OG: 1.047

Thanks in advance for your input.



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Old 01-11-2009, 01:20 PM   #2
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Quote:
Each quarter, I am going to brew a belgian. January it will be a quad, April a Tripel, July a Dubbel, and Oct a Singel. In December, I have a flight of abbey style beers to examine and rumenate over the year, all aged appropriately.
What an excellent idea! It will be a fabulous learning experience, for style and technique.

Recipe feedback follows. I will discuss each recipe in order, with general notes at the end.

Quote:
Jan Quadrupel (derived from Radical Brewing)
10lb Pilsener Malt
4lb Amber Malt
1.5lb Munich
0.5lb Aromatic Malt
1lb table sugar
1lb XLDME
2oz Styrian Goldings (60 min)
1.5oz Sazz (15 min)
WLP500 Trappist Ale
2oz Oak Chips soaked in Chardonnay for 2 weeks (secondary)
Mash at 148 for 90 min
OG: 1.095

1lb XLDME and 1lb Table sugar are cooked together in pan until caramelized to preference, and added after boil has started (from Radical Brewing, pg. 166)
Love the caramelized sugar angle! Not something I'd have imagined myself; I'd have tossed in some Special B and called it a day.

Aromatic is overkill in a beer this big. I'd swap it for more Munich.

Quote:
Apr Tripel
12lb Pilsener Malt
1lb Munich
0.5lb Aromatic Malt
2lb Clear Belgian Candi Syrup
1.5oz Styrian Goldings (60 min)
1oz Sazz (15 min)
WLP500 Trappist Ale
2oz Oak Chips soaked in Chardonnay for 2 weeks (secondary)
Mash at 149 for 90 min
OG: 1.080
Tripel is best done KISS; all the benchmark examples of the style are really, really simple. Yours is not. 80-90% Pilsner malt, 10-20% clear sugar (I like invert sugar like Lyle's Golden Syrup; YMMV) - it's really that simple! It's easy to overthink a Tripel grist and end up with something quite different.

Mash hotter than your proposed 149 - say, 151-152 - to get the characteristics you presumably want from Munich.

Again, there's really no point to Aromatic in this style/grist.

Quote:
Jul Dubbel (Derived from Radical Brewing pg. 124) - 90 Min boil
6lb Pale Malt
3lb Munich
1lb Special B
0.5lb Aromatic
1lb Dark Brown Sugar
1.5oz Styrian Goldings (60 min)
WLP500 Trappist Ale
2oz Oak Chips soaked in Chardonnay for 2 weeks (secondary)
Mash at 152 for 60 min
OG: 1.060
Here is a place where Aromatic might come in handy. A half-pound is a good idea. A full pound of Special B is probably too much, however; it's very, very powerful stuff. If you were planning on getting color as well as flavor from the Special B, I suggest a couple ounces of Carafa I or II. That should get you a nice reddish-brown tint without an excess of caremelly, dark-fruit sweetness - which is the danger of more than a half-pound of Special B in five gallons. Dubbel really shouldn't have crystal-malt sweetness, but it should have a maltiness more pronounced than Tripel but less obvious than Bock.

Quote:
Oct Singel (Derived from Radical Brewing pg. 123)
6lb Pilsener Malt
3lb Pale Malt
0.5lb Aromatic
1oz Styrian Goldings (60 min)
1oz Saaz (60 min)
1oz Saaz (0 min)
WLP500 Trappist Ale
2oz Oak Chips soaked in Chardonnay for 2 weeks (secondary)
Mash at 152 for 60 min
OG: 1.047
This grist sounds yummy!

Now, a general observation: I don't know what you're after with the oak, but I don't think it's going to add anything positive to the beers. To the best of my knowledge, none of the benchmark examples of the style are aged in or on oak (Westmalle, Chimay, La Trappe, etc.). For your experiment's purposes, it adds an unnecessary variable to the flavor profiles; as you're using the same yeast strain, I suggest you instead investigate the flavors of malt and yeast and how they intertwine in these styles.

I also suggest you acquire some of the benchmark commercial beers for comparison's sake. That will be a very interesting - and convivial, as these beers tend to be quite strong! - tasting experiment.

A note on Special B: The brewery where I began my professional career was, to the best of our knowledge, the first US microbrewery to bottle a Belgian-style Quadruppel. We had a 14bbl mash tun, and filled to the brim with grist we could get 5bbl of 1.100+ wort in the kettle. We brewed four 5bbl batches with different grists and then blended the batches. (That was a very convivial tasting session indeed; we could barely read the handwritten notes from late in the evening.) We ended up finalizing the grist with Pilsner, Vienna, and Munich malts and invert sugar with a touch of Special B. Why? One of the 5bbl batches was 50% Special B - and here's the crucial bit - it was perfectly foul. Utterly undrinkable. When all four batches were blended into a 20bbl batch, it was divine. This was early 2000, and I drank the last bottle in my possession from that batch a month or so ago. 12% ABV and utterly perfect in a large brandy snifter. The point is, even in a heavy grist Special B can easily screw up everything.

Hope this helps you in your quest. Wish I lived within closer range so I could invite myself over to help!

Cheers!

Bob


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Old 01-11-2009, 06:15 PM   #3
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Bob - Thanks for the feedback. Another goal of mine in 2009 is to keep it simple for the recipes, and you've helped me rein in my instinct to make excessive grist choices. The oack chips are just an idea, easy to split batches or drop it completely at the time I'm at secondary. I like the idea, so I'm leaving it for now.

I've edited the recipes on the OP and in Beersmith based on your feedback. I'm getting excited about this project. Anyone else care to give some feedback?
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Old 02-21-2009, 01:24 AM   #4
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I finally completed the Quadrupel for this project. I had a couple of small problems, but worked through them. First, I realized I only had 1 1/2 lbs of Munich instead of the 2 I had planned, so that dropped my anticipated OG to 1.092. This was my second all-grain effort, and my efficiency was not the same as my first; it was 67% instead of 77%. That took my Quad from an anticipated 1.092 to an actual 1.083. Finally, the hops I ordered were below the anticipated alpha %; so I bumped the Saaz to 2 oz at 20 minutes instead of the planned 1.5oz at 15.

The carmelization of the XLDME and table sugar was interesting (see pic). It lumped up in the saucepan into twisted, powdery carmelized sugar. I dropped them into the boil at the 10 minute mark. This process was described by Randy Mosher in Radical Brewing - it definitely left a toffee-like aroma and taste.

Here's how the process based with pics:

Boiling the wort:


Making the carmelized sugar/XLDME:


Cooling with the CFC (build thanks to this forum):


Quad in the primary:


I have to note that I would not be at the all-grain, CFC, high-gravity level without the info pulled from this forum. I am not a frequent poster (working on that), but troll all the time, so thank you to everyone out there sharing their trials and errors for helping me get to this point.

Tripel is planned for April!!!
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Old 02-21-2009, 01:25 AM   #5
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One more pic - the OG reading. Color looked about right:

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Old 03-01-2009, 05:23 PM   #6
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Took a sample yesterday, Specific gravity fell from 1.083 to 1.010 in a week. Those yeasts were very busy. I normally try to use a water bath and ice to keep temperature control, but I did not this time as I've read a higher temp fermentation is desirable in trappist styles. Since the ambient remained 70 degrees for the week, I suspect the fermenting wort got as high as 80.

Tasted very raw - a lot of esters, along with the strong malt backbone. It's clocking in at 9.5% ABV, and the alcohol heat was noticeable. I could also taste a toffee-like quality from the carmelized sugar/XLDME mix, but it was subdued. This guy is going to need lots of age to pull everything together. Fortunately, I've got several brews in bottles while I wait until December for this one.
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Old 05-25-2009, 11:10 PM   #7
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Just brewed the Tripel this weekend. The final recipe was

Tripel
13lb Belgian Pilsener Malt
2lb Clear Belgian Candi Sugar
0.25 Aromatic Malt
1.75oz Styrian Goldings (90 min)
1oz Sazz (10 min)
WLP500 Trappist Ale
Mash at 151 for 90 min
OG: 1.078 (70% efficiency)

With the 90 min mash and boil, this extended my brew day a bit. Learning my lesson from the Quad, I have kept temp control in check, slowly letting it rise over the past 2 days, and using the wet t-shirt technique to maintain the temp. Didn't take pictures this time.

This one was fun and I know I applied some things I learned from the Quad mistakes.
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:37 PM   #8
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whats the wet t-shirt technique?
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Old 05-26-2009, 11:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syd138 View Post
whats the wet t-shirt technique?
Put the fermentor in a bit of water with a tshirt over it just touching into the water. Water is drawn up the tshirt and cools your fermentor as it evaporates.
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Old 05-27-2009, 12:06 AM   #10
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awesome post. Its really exciting!


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