Critique my Belgian Pale Ale (Cat. 19A) AG Recipe!

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Well-Known Member
Oct 10, 2006
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Lancaster County, PA
So, a made a resolution to get away, at least for a short time, from the dry yeasts I have been using for the year and half since I started brewing (I've used liquid maybe 2-3 times). I need to get "starter building" into my brewing vocabulary and I would like to experiment with some liquid strains with a more complex profile, as opposed to trying to make complex beers from my grain and hop bills. So... I figured a good, but still simple place, to start would be with some sort of belgian. I want something drinkable that I can put on tap and drown quickly, so that I can keep brewing new styles with liquid yeasts, etc. so I didn't want to do a dubbel or tripel. So, I figured a simple Belgian Pale Ale was in the works. I've never brewed one before and never had any of the specific examples, that I recall, from the BJCP style guidelines, so I just prepared the recipe to shoot for the middle of the style guidelines.

However, it says low hop aroma, so I may be overdoing it with the 10 and 5 minute additions? Thoughts? I don't mind going a little out of style for something I enjoy (hops), so its not that big of a deal, but just want to see...

Also, never brewed with Belgian or Trappist yeast before. Am I using the best choice? Would there be a more interesting choice?

Also, is a 154F mash good? Should I go 155 or so for a more complex malt profile? Higher/lower?!

Here's the recipe:

Recipe: RBBC Belgian Pale Ale
Brewer: Roaring Bull Brewing
Style: Belgian Pale Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: See Belgian PA BJCP Style Guidelines (19A) for general description of style.
Possibly using a little more aroma hops than per style, but shouldn't be overexcessive.

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Boil Size: 6.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.049 SG
Estimated Color: 7.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 27.5 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount Item Type % or IBU
6.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM) Grain 66.7 %
1.75 lb Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 19.4 %
1.00 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 11.1 %
0.25 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 2.8 %
0.85 oz Hallertauer [4.80%] (60 min) Hops 15.2 IBU
0.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (30 min) Hops 7.2 IBU
0.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (10 min) Hops 3.4 IBU
0.50 oz Hallertauer [4.80%] (5 min) Hops 1.8 IBU
1 Pkgs Belgian Ale (White Labs #WLP550) Yeast-Ale

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 9.00 lb
Name Description Step Temp Step Time
Mash In Add 11.25 qt of water at 165.9 F 154.0 F 60 min

Thanks in advance.
looks excellent to might drop the 5 minute addition of hallertau, just cuz of malty goodness, but i don't think it's a major problem. that munich and vienna will definitely give it a malty backbone.

550 is my personal preference for most of my belgian beers :mug:

and those EKG will make that a very tasty brew! :)

i think 154 is'll be malty enough and some belgian ales tend to be drier anyway.

no matter what, give it time. even the lighter belgian beers will benefit from a 2-3-6 (as appose to 1-2-3 ;)) method using that yeast.
That does sound pretty good! I agree that the EKG will be quite tasty, but they're not so Belgian. Of course, as you pointed out, those late hop additions aren't so much to style, either. But, shoot, are you trying to win a medal or just please yourself? :)

recipe is strictly for my (and friends) quaffing...

Actually the bjcp guidelines mention 'noble hops, styrian Golding, EKG, or fuggles' are often used in the style.

What would u guys replace it with for more authenticity? More hallarteau? I didnt want to just single hop it...
I guess the other nobles are saaz, tettnang, or spalt, correct?

I think I may have some saaz on-hand, but not 100% sure. I have no tett or spalt for sure though...
EKG is fine and to style. There are plenty of belgian beers that use EKG or fuggle. i love some saaz in my belgians, too, but to tell you the truth i'm interested in using EKG for flavor.

My recent belgian pale had fuggle for bittering and EKG and Saaz for flavor (no aroma)

what's not to style is the late additions, but like texlaw said are you trying to win medals or just please yourself?

please please yourself with the beer and not IN the beer ;)
Well, I'm finally getting off my butt and brewing this tomorrow. No turning back now as the starter is already cranking. :) Also switched to Abbey Ale from Belgian Ale as I had planned... no choice as its all the HBS had.

Below is the final recipe. I only had very low AA Hallarteaur, but I'm hoping that keeps the hopping nice, smooth, and mild and can showcase whatever this yeast does to it.


Recipe: RBBC Belgian Pale Ale
Brewer: Roaring Bull Brewing
Style: Belgian Pale Ale
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Boil Size: 6.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.049 SG
Estimated Color: 7.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 27.6 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Mash: 153F

Amount Item Type
6.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM) Grain
1.00 lb Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain
2.00 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain
1.50 oz Hallertauer [3.70%] (60 min) Hops 17.9 IBU
0.50 oz Hallertauer [3.70%] (15 min) Hops 4.4 IBU
0.50 oz Hallertauer [3.70%] (10 min) Hops 3.2 IBU
1 Pkgs White Labs Abbey Ale Yeast-Ale (2 Pint Starter)
Well brewday went off without many hitches... Started around 7:00AM and just put the fermenter in the corner, sitting at 70F, at 11:45. Time for some tacos for lunch mmm, mmm...

I hit my mash temp of 153 dead on. I also got around 77% efficiency out of my 5g cooler MLT again. Also had exactly 5g post-boil volume...

If anything went wrong, its that I just made my started 18 hours ago and it was just starting to ferment now. It was only a 1 pint starter, so I pitched it anyway (the entire contents) and we'll see what happens. At least the yeast are awakened even though they didn't ferment the starter out... Next time I'll make one earlier. This is really only my 3rd-4th time using liquid yeast also and the first few times I just used the smackpacks with no starter.

Not too bad for only my second AG brew-day I suppose!!
Sounds like you did great. If the starter just started fermenting, that means it just completed it's cell-growth/multiplication stage, which is exactly what you make a starter for.
Well, the airlock isn't bubbling yet, but if I even touch it a bit I seem to get some bubblage... talk about a quick start!

Just ending the night on the same note I began. Drinking some belgian style beers. Had an ommegang rare vos and a three philosophers. Mmm... :)
Just got home from the office around 6PM and have steady fermentation and a 1" krausen... I'm guessing it started sometime during the day making my lag time probably around 24 hours. Not too bad I suppose... Only 1 pint starter and I just looked at the vile again the yeast was dated for Jan-28-08...

Anyway, still on my belgian kick at the moment - downing a Delirium Tremens from a snifter as we speak. Considering what my second one will be. I have some more three philosophers, some duvel, some new belgium brews, and a stoudt's abbey-style tripel...
Wow, this Abbey Ale yeast kicks in... I thought it was going to stay at low krausen, check a day later, and I have a hugeeee 7" or so krausen. Near needing blow-off...
And this is with the carboy in the low to mid 60s...

Can't wait to try this beer. Airlock smells fabulous.

Thinking of trying a, "Belgian IPA" so to speak after I rack this one by pitching onto the Abbey Ale Yeast cake... I know this isn't an accepted style per the BJCP or anything, but what I was thinking was a good malt-backbone in the grain bill 1.060ish from two-row, munich, maybe some victory malt and a medium dosing of american hops. Kind of an American-style IPA, lower IBU range (45-50) for that style, but fermented with the Abbey ale yeast. Any thoughts?

Will definitely need blowoff if I pitch upon this cake... :)
Here's what beer advocate says about the Belgian IPA style:

BeerAdvocate said:
Belgian IPA

Inspired by the American India Pale Ale (IPA) and Double IPA, more and more Belgian brewers are brewing hoppy pale colored ales for the US market (like Chouffe & Urthel), and there's been an increase of Belgian IPAs being brewed by American brewers. Generally, Belgian IPAs are considered too hoppy by Belgian beer drinkers.

Various malts are used, but the beers of the style are finished with Belgian yeast strains (bottle-conditioned) and the hops employed tend to be American. You'll generally find a cleaner bitterness vs. American styles, and a pronounced dry edge (very Belgian), often akin to an IPA crossed with a Belgian Tripel. Alcohol by volume is on the high side. Many examples are quite cloudy, and feature tight lacing, excellent retention, and fantastic billowy heads that mesmerize (thanks, in part, to the hops).

Belgian IPA is still very much a style in development.

So, maybe I need to up the OG a bit, but other than that I think I'm on the right track...
Update on the pale: airlock filled with krausen tonight, carbopy creating heat as it was up to 66F

Had to attach blowoff tube! Man, first time making a starter, I can see why they are beneficial now! :rockin:
Update numero #2 -

Has been in primary for about 18 days. Airlock has been stopped for a good 6 of those days. I racked to secondary after checking gravity. Got her to ~1.013 (from ~1.050), so not too bad. About what I expected for mashing around 153F.

Beer is light and pretty clear already. Smells great. Some herbal hallarteau aroma and typical belgian esters...

Going to leave in secondary for a week, then keg, set to 12.5PSI @ 40F, and let carb over a couple weeks.

Man, I can't wait to try this!