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Belgian IPA. How long from grain to glass?

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FriarFunk

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I drink my IPAs young. In contrast, I drink my Belgian's after some time has passed....months and months.

I'd like to hear about your own fermentation/conditioning process concerning Belgian IPAs (a 'style' I've never brewed). I was considering brewing one for Thanksgiving. That gives me a little over 4 weeks. I would not hesitate one bit were it an American IPA...but a Belgian? I'm not so sure.

What are your thoughts? Which Belgian yeast do you think does the job well? What's the fermentation temp and schedule? any all grain recipe suggestions would be good too (fwiw, I tend to go very simple with my recipes and I like my beers dry and clean, yet complex). Any and all information about Belgian IPAs would be greatly appreciated. I will also document how this brew turns out for any future BIPA brewers.

Thanks!
 
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I'm not an IPA expert but I've had a few Belgian IPAs I like and I've brewed my share of Belgian beers. I don't see these beers as having huge yeast flavor nor do you want to let them sit and lose some of the hop freshness. For that reason, I would slightly overpitch and ferment in the low 70s to make sure you get a really healthy and fast fermentation. If you pitch properly, you should be able to follow the same schedule as any other IPA.
 

kingwood-kid

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I drank mine at my standard schedule, which is about a month from brewday to the first beer, and then however long after that to finish the rest of the batch. I liked it better fairly young. Obviously it's a pretty wide-open style, but I'd aim for something towards the milder end of the IPA spectrum as far as gravity and hoppiness go, so as not to overwhelm the yeast flavors. I'd use either 530/3787 or 550/3522 for the yeast, but if you have a favorite belgian yeast or like the description of another, I can't say you're wrong.
 
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FriarFunk

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I've purchased the 3522 and I am making a starter tonight for a Sunday brewday. I'd love to hear what brewers out there like for grain bill and hopping. I'm working backwards on this one...thinking I may use some Amarillo and Cascade for dryhopping to get that tropical mango/citrus thing going to compliment the 3522 (hopefully not completely overpower it...). Maybe use some Glacier throughout the boil? As far as grain bill, I was thinking of a pilsner backbone (85%ish) with a small amount of aromatic + rye to round things out and a tiny splash of Carafa special to build up the amber color I want. I'm thinking a 1.055 beer with about 65 IBUs. Thoughts?
 

kingwood-kid

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For a 3.5 Gallon batch, mine was 7lbs 2-row, 2lbs rye and .25lb toasted rye, with an OG of 1.056, so pretty close to what you're planning. I had somewhere around 50 IBUs, and used a flameout add of 1oz Saaz, 1oz Centennial and .5oz Nugget, as I was trying to mimic Achouffe's hops without my having to buy anything I didn't already have. Fermented with a slight underpitch of 3522. It was a little too bitter at first, but quickly developed into something much better. I'm sure you'll make a good beer, quite possibly better than what I had.
 
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FriarFunk

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Thanks! I'm excited for this beer, well...if I ever get to making that starter. I juuuuust finished throwing away my 2L erlenmeyer flask. Had a quick boil over and *crack*! I've had that thing for over 6 years with no problems. I thought they were crack resistant! Gotta visit the LHBS and get me a new one. I have enough time (I usually make my starters on Friday nights after work for Sunday brewdays). I hate equipment mishaps!!!
 

phuff7129

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I've brewed a couple of Belgian IPA's and I think there are a couple of ways to approach it.

One is to pretty much brew an american IPA and then just use a Belgian yeast. I just finished a clone of Flying Dog's Raging Bitch Belgian IPA. The brewery gave me the recipe and it is spot on. It basically is just a great American IPA using Wyeast 3944 Belgian Wit yeast. It is a very crisp beer and they carbonate it more like a saison. Anyway, it's great. Let me know if you want the recipe.

Another approach is to brew a very traditional Belgian Ale and then just hop the crap out of it. I brew a trappist ale using Wyeast 3787 High Gravity Trappist yeast and using belgian pilsner for my base malt. I brewed this once and it was good but I didn't quite get the hop profile i wanted but it will be worth trying it again with a different hop combination.

I know what you mean about the age of the beer. Many Belgian styles benefit from age but if you hop it like an IPA then I think you definitely have to drink it young. Using the Raging Bitch clone as an example, it is a 8.3% abv and it just uses 2 row pale malt and a little crystal so it is a simple malt bill which doesn't need any age. It uses the Belgian Wit yeast and if you have ever made a Wit you know you can drink those young. So I think the design of the beer is to be able to drink it young.

With my traditional Belgian Ale the grain bill is a bit more complex, and use traditional belgian grain but I keep the abv lower, around 6.5%. At this abv it is very drinkable young. Use a Belgian yeast you like. I prefer 3787 Trappist High Gravity. Then you just have to find a hop combination you like to go with it.

Cheers!
 

rockfish42

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Depending on the yeast strain a short 4 week lagering period does wonders for this style.
 

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