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Assistance building tasty Belgian Ale?

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rhys333

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Calling a Belgian ale aficionados...

I'd like to brew a characterful Belgian ale using candi sugar or syrups and an expressive Belgian yeast available through Wyeast. I don't want something so strong that it has to be aged, so 7% (ish), max. I'll be using domestic 2-Row as a base malt and EKG for hopping. Any specialty grains. I appreciate any recipe suggestions you may have.
 

yowzers

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Most recipes use at least 50% pilsner malt. I love to remove a 1/2 gallon of wort and boil it down to a syrup and add it back. I've made some of my best tasting Belgians using this method without needing Candi Syrup.
 
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rhys333

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Most recipes use at least 50% pilsner malt. I love to remove a 1/2 gallon of wort and boil it down to a syrup and add it back. I've made some of my best tasting Belgians using this method without needing Candi Syrup.
I interesting idea. What volume do you boil that 1/2 gallon down to? Also, what's the resulting flavor and beer colour?
 

yowzers

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I take it down for a couple hours, maybe to two or three cups. It's pretty syrupy when I'm done. It does add a little color and the flavor reminds me of the candy syrup, but maybe a little richer and not quite so twangy if that makes sense.
 

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Wyeast 3787, ferment it warm. Pilsner malt as a base, 5-10% sugar or syrup at your pleasure. I make my own invert syrup and boil it to a pale gold color, but a store-bought golden syrup or even D45 would give you a lighter Belgian-style beer. Sugar and syrup help leave the beer a bit drier, which benefits this style. Ultimately the grain bill depends on what you want; a dubbel would use some darker syrup.

I made CSI's Westvleteren 6 blonde clone, and it's a nice beer, but at 40 IBU I feel like the hops overpower some of the Belgian characteristics. It is appropriate for the style, but for me personally is was a bit much and I would cut the IBU down closer towards 30 or 25.
 
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Wyeast 3787, ferment it warm. Pilsner malt as a base, 5-10% sugar or syrup at your pleasure. I make my own invert syrup and boil it to a pale gold color, but a store-bought golden syrup or even D45 would give you a lighter Belgian-style beer. Sugar and syrup help leave the beer a bit drier, which benefits this style. Ultimately the grain bill depends on what you want; a dubbel would use some darker syrup.

I made CSI's Westvleteren 6 blonde clone, and it's a nice beer, but at 40 IBU I feel like the hops overpower some of the Belgian characteristics. It is appropriate for the style, but for me personally is was a bit much and I would cut the IBU down closer towards 30 or 25.

I would like to make my own syrup, but I've shied away due to early experiments that went sideways and advice online that says it must be treated like a scientific experiment with chemicals added and careful temperature manipulation.

You say that you just boil it and I like the simplicity of that. Do you get any weird off flavors, and do I take it that you get 100% attenuation on that? My experiments left me with low attentuation, strangely.
 

mirthfuldragon

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I would like to make my own syrup, but I've shied away due to early experiments that went sideways and advice online that says it must be treated like a scientific experiment with chemicals added and careful temperature manipulation. You say that you just boil it and I like the simplicity of that. Do you get any weird off flavors, and do I take it that you get 100% attenuation on that? My experiments left me with low attentuation, strangely.
Wyeast 3787 usually finishes pretty low for me, ~1.008 or so, even at 11% ABV.

When I make syrup, I use a dash of acid (cream of tarter, food grade phosphoric acid, or lemon juice), sugar, and water. You can use too little water, but too much will just increase the boil time. I have a flat-top electric stove, so that makes modulating the power pretty easy. Boil s l o w. You will see the color change, from a clearish white of sugar water to a pale yellow gold and then darker. Be gentle and patient. Crank the heat and you will scorch it and make a mess. It's kinda fun in a DIY sort of way, but you can also buy the candi syrup for ~$6/pound, so it probably is not truly cost-effective from a labor standpoint. YMMV.

I usually invert syrup (very pale colors) for any sucrose addition, which breaks sucrose down into two simple sugars (fructose and glucose) and (in my opinion) helps avoid potential off flavors by making it easier for the yeast to digest the sugar.
 

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Simple Belgian Tripel recipe that won't burden you with making candisyrup (I made my own for a dubbel that I'm about ready to bottle - samples are delicious but dod gamn was that a lot of work to save a few bucks):

5 gallon batch (Original recipe by Josh Weikert):

12 lbs Pilsner malt (IMO you really need pilsner as a base, though there is an Xbeeriment that may refute that)
1/2 lb Aromatic
1/2 lb Victory
1 lb plain old table sugar added to the boil before it gets rolling

60 minute boil (or 90 if you're concerned about DMS with using Pilsner Malts, though it has never been a problem for me).

Bitter with anything at 60 minutes to 35 IBU. Use your EKG at 5 minutes or flameout (1 oz). I have only used Crystal/Mt Hood for this addition, but EKG might be alright.

A tame yeast with a really nice apricot, citrus, and light pepper profile would be Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes (ferment at 68F til completion). This is my all time favorite yeast. I brewed this exact recipe for 2nd place at our local brewfest and loved drinking it. It was sampled by the judges just over 30 days from brew day, so age was not necessary to produce a tasty beer using this recipe (but I'm sure it would help as the ABV was over 8.5%)

Screen Shot 2019-10-22 at 8.09.44 PM.png


If you want something more funky/strong/spicy/Belgiany, I recommend WY1214 (berry explosion when I made a tripel with it) or 1388, which is more balanced but still has berry, spice, some banana etc. I ramp 1388 from 65 to 75 over about a week and have had nice results. Both will require crashing and gelatin to get it to clear as they are very low flocculators. Another reason I love 3522 is that it gets to work, ferments clean, and drops down when its done, leaving a very bright beer with no extra work.

If you do the WY1214, I'd suggest a low fermentation temp (62ish?) to keep those berries in check. You could also simplify the grist to just Pilsner malt (or maybe 2 row?). I did that with my WY1214 Tripel and made a nice, refreshing, crisp and dry tripel -- but that one took at least 3 months to hit its stride in the bottle, which is why I suggest 3522 for your desire for a quicker Belgian. I almost dumped it beforehand as it tasted almost like berry flavored vodka initially.

I also dont see anything wrong with dropping your grist amounts to hit an OG of 1.070ish via your brew software. Just keep the BU:GU in check and you'll have a lighter version of whatever it is you're trying to make (though it might fall outside the style guidelines, but who cares?).
 

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Do you get that Belgian something-something from WY 3726?
Yes! It is generally a Saison yeast as it comes from a Saison brewery, but if you are not pushing it in terms of temperature I think it's more versatile than that. You get a complex array of esters and phenols and it is quite easy to work with, and flocculates well.
 
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Thanks everyone. Using what I have on hand and can get on short notice, I came up with the following recipe. I am using some domestic substitutions here as I don't want to purchase large amounts of malt. Appreciate your thoughts.

BELGIAN DUBBEL 1.062
85% 2 Row
8.5% D-45 Candi syrup (1lb in 5.5 gallons)
4% Belgian aromatic
2.5% C120
Hopping @ 60 & 10 to 22 IBUs
WY 3522 Belgian Ardennes
 

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I would hop at 60 and 30, that way the yeast stands out. But otherwise, it is a pretty simple style.
 

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What ericbw said. Ardennes has a clean, mellow flavor profile (citrus, apricot, touch of pepper). Best to not have late addition hops overshadow those, though the D45 might make a significant appearance on its own. Should be a nice Dubbel. Please post back with your results!
 

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I'm kegging up a belgian blond ale right now. Here's the recipe I used:

* 10 1/2lb Pilsner malt
* 1lb Munich 10L
* 6oz Biscuit
* 6oz Melanoiden
* 11oz table sugar @ 5 minutes
* 17 IBU of Fuggles @ 90 minutes
* 10 IBU of Styrian Goldings @ 60 minutes
* 2.5 IBU of Saaz @ 10 minutes

I boiled for 90 minutes and used Wyeast 3787. I mashed high (158'F) for an hour. The high mash temp is to offset any thinness that the table sugar brings. OG was 1.068 and FG was 1.010.
 

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Calling a Belgian ale aficionados...

I'd like to brew a characterful Belgian ale using candi sugar or syrups and an expressive Belgian yeast available through Wyeast. I don't want something so strong that it has to be aged, so 7% (ish), max. I'll be using domestic 2-Row as a base malt and EKG for hopping. Any specialty grains. I appreciate any recipe suggestions you may have.
I tried a Belgian Pale base malt and really noticed the difference in a triple as compared to US 2-row or Pilsner. It was a Triple so I only added a touch of Light Munich (7%) in addition to light candi (7%). This was 9% trip so a bit more than your target. For a 7% target I’d try the Special B mentioned by others and Dark Munich. Perhaps some molasses. Really like to flavor and esters from the Wyeat Trappist High Gravity. Let us know what you do.
 
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rhys333

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Thanks everyone. Based on input and what I have available, I brewed the following recipe. Regarding that aromatic malt, I increased this to 8.2% of the grain bill as it is 5L Franco-Belgian aromatic, essentially a Vienna-style base malt that can be used in higher amounts.

BELGIAN DUBBEL 1.062, 24 IBU
77.1% 2 Row
8.2% D-45 Candi syrup (1lb in 5.5 gallons)
8.2% Belgian aromatic (Franco-Belgian)
4% Carapils (naughty, I know)
2.5% C120
1.25oz Crystal @ 60
1oz Crystal @ 25
WY 3522 Belgian Ardennes

I added the carapils due to going with a practical single infusion mash. I'll report my results when it's done.
 

ericbw

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Thanks everyone. Based on input and what I have available, I brewed the following recipe. Regarding that aromatic malt, I increased this to 8.2% of the grain bill as it is 5L Franco-Belgian aromatic, essentially a Vienna-style base malt that can be used in higher amounts.

BELGIAN DUBBEL 1.062, 24 IBU
77.1% 2 Row
8.2% D-45 Candi syrup (1lb in 5.5 gallons)
8.2% Belgian aromatic (Franco-Belgian)
4% Carapils (naughty, I know)
2.5% C120
1.25oz Crystal @ 60
1oz Crystal @ 25
WY 3522 Belgian Ardennes

I added the carapils due to going with a practical single infusion mash. I'll report my results when it's done.
I also add a little wheat, which I think gives it fluffy foam and maybe some body. Same way you’re using carapils kind of.
 

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Pilsner makes more sense than 2 row, and I tend to use more Candi Syrup. Neither one of those things will make or break it though. Belgians are all about the yeast and the fermentation.
 

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Pilsner makes more sense than 2 row, and I tend to use more Candi Syrup. Neither one of those things will make or break it though. Belgians are all about the yeast and the fermentation.
Agreed with the pilsner. I would argue it's essential if you want to make a Belgian beer that tastes truly Belgian.
 
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rhys333

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Regarding this WY 3522 Belgian Ardennes yeast strain...

Whoa! I started at 65F on Sunday and let it rise to 67F Monday. Airlock popping away happily. I get home today after work and it's at 70/71F with a 5 inch krausen. No signs of activity. It can't be done that fast, can it?
 

TandemTails

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Regarding this WY 3522 Belgian Ardennes yeast strain...

Whoa! I started at 65F on Sunday and let it rise to 67F Monday. Airlock popping away happily. I get home today after work and it's at 70/71F with a 5 inch krausen. No signs of activity. It can't be done that fast, can it?
What are you fermenting in? It sounds like the seal on your FV isn't fully tight. This happens to my big mouth bubbler pretty often. Try tightening the lid / airlock. If the krausen is still that big, fermentation is still going on.
 
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rhys333

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What are you fermenting in? It sounds like the seal on your FV isn't fully tight. This happens to my big mouth bubbler pretty often. Try tightening the lid / airlock. If the krausen is still that big, fermentation is still going on.
Fermenting in an 8 gallon specialized tub. It seals well and has translucent sides, so I can see that it's visibly flatlined. I'm guessing its reached about 2/3 completion and creeping down the rest of the way.
 

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This entire thread is pure win. Pick a good, character full yeast and ferment it at its upper temp limit to maximize the Belgian flavors. If you really get into it, try cooking your own candi syrups. Its cheap and easy, my first try yielded a few jars of mahogany dark syrup with the classic "bowl full of cherries" flavor. All you need is white sugar, water, a bit of DME or DAP, and a candy thermometer. There are threads here on hbt to help you out. Belgians are a great obsession as the waters are super wide and extra deep.
 

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When I fermented my first Tripel with 3522, the beer got to 76F despite ambient being about 62F. I haven't used this yeast since getting a chest freezer with inkbird probe, but even with that early pop in temperature on my first run it still tasted great. I got the temp under control as soon as I noticed, but the effects were perceptible (just not horrible). Got marked down for a little alcohol heat, but it didn't have nearly the negative effect that a too hot ferment with 1214 had. In subsequent batches with 3522, I put the carboy in a rubbermaid tub full of water. That seemed to slow down those exothermic effects.

I know the rule of thumb with belgian yeasts is to let them soar as high as they want to go, right out of the gate, but I'm a control freak, and I feel like runaway belgiany flavors goes against the style descriptions: balanced, digestible, and deceptively boozy. That said, I ramp up as fermentation slows to encourage full attenuation. I've heard that harsh fusels develop within the first 48 hours or so, so I always start out low and go from there.
 

Stand

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I use Fermentrack, so I don't know how well my fermentation compares. I set a slow ramp from 63 to 76 over 5 days, and have had good results. I use WLP530 pretty exclusively.
 
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Thanks everyone. Based on input and what I have available, I brewed the following recipe. Regarding that aromatic malt, I increased this to 8.2% of the grain bill as it is 5L Franco-Belgian aromatic, essentially a Vienna-style base malt that can be used in higher amounts.

BELGIAN DUBBEL 1.062, 24 IBU
77.1% 2 Row
8.2% D-45 Candi syrup (1lb in 5.5 gallons)
8.2% Belgian aromatic (Franco-Belgian)
4% Carapils (naughty, I know)
2.5% C120
1.25oz Crystal @ 60
1oz Crystal @ 25
WY 3522 Belgian Ardennes

I added the carapils due to going with a practical single infusion mash. I'll report my results when it's done.
I'm kegging this today and it went from 1.059 to 1.008 (6.7% abv) for a somewhat surprising 86% attenuation. That's with a 70 minute singe infusion mash at 152F. It's medium amber in colour with a pleasant flavor. No Belgian yeast character at all though. Completely neutral in fact.
 

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I'm kegging this today and it went from 1.059 to 1.008 (6.7% abv) for a somewhat surprising 86% attenuation. That's with a 70 minute singe infusion mash at 152F. It's medium amber in colour with a pleasant flavor. No Belgian yeast character at all though. Completely neutral in fact.
That's the Ardennes for ya. It is super clean with a light apricot ester at mid range, but contributes very little in colder fermentation. What temp did you ferment at?

This chart from BLAM is a good one:

Screen Shot 2019-11-16 at 1.12.06 PM.png


IIRC, my attenuation % was comparable.
 
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rhys333

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That's the Ardennes for ya. It is super clean with a light apricot ester at mid range, but contributes very little in colder fermentation. What temp did you ferment at?

This chart from BLAM is a good one:

View attachment 652812

IIRC, my attenuation % was comparable.
Thanks for the chart - very handy.

I started at mid 60s and let it free rise to about 73F. It was done within just a few days. I actually didn't get around to kegging as of my above post last week, but I did do it last night. And I'll be honest when I say I was bummed that there was no Belgian character at all when I tested the gravity sample last week, but a week later and things have changed significantly.

It's still carbing up mind you, but I had to pull a sample tonight to see how it's doing. It's a Belgian, alright! The esters and phenolics aren't crazy high, but I definitely pick up subtle aromas that point in a generally Belgian direction and that's what I was hoping for. As for the flavor, it's spot on for my tastes. Complex flavors from the D45, mildly sweet but interestingly dry at the same time. There's a satisfying weight from the 7% ABV, but it's not hot at all. I can't wait till it's fully carbed. I bottled a gallon as well for Christmas, so it'll be interesting to see how it compares with the kegged main batch.

Will post back with final results on this.
 
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Dave Sarber

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I started at mid 60s and let it free rise to about 73F. It was done within just a few days. I actually didn't get around to kegging as of my above post last week, but I did do it last night. And I'll be honest when I say I was bummed that there was no Belgian character at all when I tested the gravity sample last week, but a week later and things have changed significantly.

It's still carbing up mind you, but I had to pull a sample tonight to see how it's doing. It's a Belgian, alright! The esters and phenolics aren't crazy high, but I definitely pick up subtle aromas that point in a generally Belgian direction and that's what I was hoping for. As for the flavor, it's spot on for my tastes. Complex flavors from the D45, mildly sweet but interestingly dry at the same time. There's a satisfying weight from the 7% ABV, but it's not hot at all. I can't wait till it's fully carbed. I bottled a gallon as well for Christmas, to so it'll be interesting to see how it compares with the kegged main batch.

Will post back with final results on this.

If you like BSDA, try Omega OYL20. Has a nice dark stonefruit flavor.
 

trailrider

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If you like BSDA, try Omega OYL20. Has a nice dark stonefruit flavor.
I plan on brewing a BSDA in the next month or two and right now it's a toss up on the yeast. My thoughts were to use either Wyeast 1214 (Chimay) or 1762 (Rochefort) until I read that OYL 20 provides the dark stone fruit flavor I'm after. I checked Omega's web site and it seems like they don't package the OYL 20 for the home brewer or I may have just missed something. Hopefully I can get some feed back from someone that has used either of the wyeast strains or some info on how to get the OYL 20 packaged for home brewer.
 

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I plan on brewing a BSDA in the next month or two and right now it's a toss up on the yeast. My thoughts were to use either Wyeast 1214 (Chimay) or 1762 (Rochefort) until I read that OYL 20 provides the dark stone fruit flavor I'm after. I checked Omega's web site and it seems like they don't package the OYL 20 for the home brewer or I may have just missed something. Hopefully I can get some feed back from someone that has used either of the wyeast strains or some info on how to get the OYL 20 packaged for home brewer.
You can order the OYL20 in homebrewer size from Northern Brewer, that's where I get mine.
 
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I just finished a golden strong ale with Imperial B51 "Workhorse" and am pretty happy with it. It's the Kasteel strain, and it has that Belgian something-something that I was unable to get from WLP 500 or WLP 530. Not sure the Wyeast equivalents for all these.
 
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I was gifted a bottle of Unibroue Maudite for Christmas. Always a favorite. Drinking it this time, I'm surprised because I'm preferring the homebrewed dubbel. The Maudite has more Belgian yeast aroma, but the HB has more flavor.
20191228_140747.jpeg
 
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