Critique My Belgian Strong Golden Ale

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bizarrojosh

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This is the first brew that I actually made myself, but I wanted some criticism and encouragement. Take a look and let me know what you think and see if you can answer these thoughts I had

1. How do I get my SRM down a bit lower? According to Beersmith this is near the upper limits of the color for this style and I would like to be towards the middle. That's why I chose Extra Light DME in order to keep the color down. I would rather use all Pilsner LME but the color would be too dark. Suggestions?

2. Is the hop IBU too high? Again, beersmith says that I need a higher IBU but 4oz of hops seems a bit much for this style in my opinion; then again that's why I'm asking you all.


Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 2.30 gal
Post Boil Volume: 2.08 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 4.75 gal
Estimated OG: 1.080 SG
Estimated Color: 5.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 24.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
4 lbs Pilsner Liquid Extract (3.5 SRM) Extract 5 37.2 %
2.00 oz Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] - Boil 60.0 mi Hop 7 13.4 IBUs
1 lbs Candi Sugar, Clear (0.5 SRM) Sugar 6 9.3 %
1 lbs Wheat, Torrified (1.7 SRM) Grain 1 9.3 %
4.0 oz Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 3 2.3 %
1.0 pkg Belgian Golden Ale (White Labs #WLP570) Yeast 10 -
4 lbs Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM) Dry Extract 4 37.2 %
1.00 oz Saaz [4.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 8 5.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Tettnang [4.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 9 5.6 IBUs
8.0 oz Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 2 4.7 %
 

HerbieHowells

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A few thoughts.

1. I have never used beersmith, but I assume that you can adjust your recipe to do a late extract addition. That might help both your color numbers and your IBU numbers. (Or are you already doing that? I can't tell).

2. See what happens if you remove the aromatic. I took a glance at the charts for Belgian Strong Golden in Brew Like a Monk, and while Aromatic does show up in about 30% of the recipes he looked at, you can probably do without. I think it will lighten the color of the beer, and is not necessary in a Strong Golden.

3. Also per Brew Like a Monk, high amounts of lower alpha acid hops are typical for Belgian beers. If the late addition doesn't solve your IBU issue, it may be that you just need a lot of low AA hops.

4. I am a little concerned with your non-extract malts. The torrified wheat and Vienna both need to be mashed. That is also quite a bit of torrified wheat. You might be making this more complicated than it needs to be. If you check out the Brewing Classic Styles recipe, it only calls for Pilsner LME and sugar. Northern Brewer's kit calls for Pilsner LME, and a quarter pound each of CaraPils and biscuit. Avery uses 91.8% pale malt, and equal parts Cara 8 and 20. BYO's Duvel clone calls for pale malt, a half a pound CaraVienne, and light DME. This is one of those beers that doesn't need a lot of bells and whistles- just lots of light fermentables from malts, some sugar, and fruit character from the yeast.
 
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bizarrojosh

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Wow, thanks so much for the comments. All of that is extremely useful and very helpful.

When you say mashed is that different from steeping the grains for 45 minutes? I thought the wheat would add a nice frothy head which is why I added it, but maybe I'm wrong about that; or maybe it could be done with something else. I also thought that Vienna would be a good choice since it's low in SRM compared with carapils.

Anyway, thanks so much for your input. I would love to hear back from you and I would also love to hear from others!
 

Brew-Jay

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Another thing you can do to get better color is to increase your boil size. That may not be an option if you have a small kettle, though. Northern Brewer has a good video on the benefits of a full boil. You would need an 8 gallon kettle to Boil 6 gallons of wort.

I forget if Howie mentioned it or not but adding some of your LME late will help with lightening color too.
 

HerbieHowells

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When you say mashed is that different from steeping the grains for 45 minutes?
Yes. When you steep grain, you are just trying to draw flavor and color out of specialty malts. Mashing is what all grain brewers do to convert starch from base malts into sugars for wort. It is a somewhat more complicated process- you have to let the grain sit in water at a particular temperature for about an hour to allow enzymes in the malted barley do their work. To get the benefits that you want out of the torrified wheat, you would need to mash (I believe), and in order to mash the wheat, you need to mash with base grains that contain the right enzymes.

The good news is that I don't think you need the wheat. If you want to play around with it, it is possible to do a mini-mash. But you might want to start with a simpler recipe, and then see if you want more head retention as compared to that recipe.
 
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bizarrojosh

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Another thing you can do to get better color is to increase your boil size. That may not be an option if you have a small kettle, though. Northern Brewer has a good video on the benefits of a full boil. You would need an 8 gallon kettle to Boil 6 gallons of wort.

I forget if Howie mentioned it or not but adding some of your LME late will help with lightening color too.
Thanks so much for the comments! Yeah, I can't do a full boil, in fact I can barely boil 2.5 gallons but when I go all grain I'll invest in the right kind of stuff.

However I will take you and the others' advise to add some of the LME at the end of the boil. Would have of the LME added at the end be detrimental to the brew?

Yes. When you steep grain, you are just trying to draw flavor and color out of specialty malts. Mashing is what all grain brewers do to convert starch from base malts into sugars for wort. It is a somewhat more complicated process- you have to let the grain sit in water at a particular temperature for about an hour to allow enzymes in the malted barley do their work. To get the benefits that you want out of the torrified wheat, you would need to mash (I believe), and in order to mash the wheat, you need to mash with base grains that contain the right enzymes.

The good news is that I don't think you need the wheat. If you want to play around with it, it is possible to do a mini-mash. But you might want to start with a simpler recipe, and then see if you want more head retention as compared to that recipe.
Thanks for the info about mashing. I still have lots to learn about AG and what that entails.
 

Brew-Jay

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bizarrojosh said:
However I will take you and the others' advise to add some of the LME at the end of the boil. Would have of the LME added at the end be detrimental to the brew?
No. In fact, you can save most of the LME till the end. Add 15-20% at the beginning, then the rest with about 10 minutes left.
 

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