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Recipe feedback/ideas for belgian with saffron?

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Pappa_Bjorn

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5gal/18.9L BIAB, no sparge
OG: .066
FG: .009
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 20
EBC: 23.2

Water (beersmith calc.)

4ml 80% lactic+salts=mash pH 5.23

Mash @68C/155F
66% 3,6kg/7.9lbs 2-row Maris Otter
9% 500g/1.1lbs Wheat malt
4% 200g/7oz Carafoam/Carapils
4% 200g/7oz Special B
2% 100g/3,5oz Melanoidin

Boil 1h
15g/.5oz Mandarina Bavaria 8.5%AAU @60min
Whirfloc @15min
15% 800g/1.8lbs Clear candi sugar @10min
50g/1oz Lactose? @10min
Some cloves? Cardamom? @5min
Yeast nutrient/fermaid @5min
20g/.7oz Mandarina Bavaria 8.5%AAU @flameout, whirlpool ~10min

Yeast
WLP530 'Abbey Ale', 1pkg, starting @19C/66F rise to ~22C/72F

Late flavouring
2g? Saffron, steeped? Alcohol sanitized? @4days
??ml amaretto or almond flavour or almonds? @?? boil? 4days? Dunno

Salts ppm (beersmith calc.)
Ca 133, Mg 18, Na 39, SO4 214, Cl 161, HCO3 59

Thoughts
Trying to go low EBC to let the saffron colour shine, but I REALLY want Special B (355EBC) in there... Sniffed saffron over a duvel and realized there's a risk it'll come across as savoury. Might add lactose if too dry to clarify to the brain it's dessert saffron, not main course saffron (paella belgo anyone?). Might also add cloves? Cardamom? For this. Not sure about the almond (does it work in non-tart ales?). Not sure about hops (might mask saffron? Less IBUs? Skip late addition?). Not sure when to add saffron, but I figure when in doubt, assume yeast can use it as nutrients so add well after kräusen.

This is my 6th? beer so appreciate feedback/ideas/critique BEFORE I mess up!
 

stieg000

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Looks pretty good. You have enough specialty malts in there; you don't need lactose. I would drop the carapils altogether and add a little more wheat.

The abbey ale yeast could give you quite a bit of spice flavor. I wouldn't use any spices other than the saffron.
 

Double_D

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I would cut down the saffron. 2g of saffron is really quite a bit, it's a really strong flavor. Dogfish head makes Midas Touch with saffron. Here's a link to a post for a clone recipe out of Sam's book. It uses 10 saffron threads for a 5gal batch.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/dog-fish-head-midas-touch.71861/

I'd skip the spice additions and I second @stieg000 on his opinion of the abby ale yeast.

If this were my belgian, I'd cut the character malt to 5% total. Marris Otter already has good malt flavor on it's own but I do like my belgians dry. Anecdotally, the last trippel I did had 5.6% belgian caravienne as the only character malt with pils as a base and it was IMO still too much, but that was a much lighter beer than what you're planning.
 
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Pappa_Bjorn

Pappa_Bjorn

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... You have enough specialty malts in there; you don't need lactose. I would drop the carapils altogether and add a little more wheat. ... The abbey ale yeast could give you quite a bit of spice flavor. I wouldn't use any spices other than the saffron.
Upped melanoidin to 150, reduced special B to 100 for colour (really want that saffron orange). Kept carafoam because I was afraid too much wheat+belgo yeast would get confusingly weiss/wit-y. Added a tiiiiny bit of cardamom with the saffron @+3d to emphasize saffron. Might do amaretto pickled additional saffron+cardamom+nutmeg on bottling.

Strangely even with speciality malts and 50g lactose the unfinished beer tastes pretty dry, so considering adding MORE lactose. It's pleasantly dry (it tastes pretty great), but the lack of sweetness hides the saffron.

I would cut down the saffron. 2g of saffron is really quite a bit ... Dogfish head makes Midas Touch with saffron. ... It uses 10 saffron threads for a 5gal batch. ... I'd cut the character malt to 5% total. ... I do like my belgians dry. ...
Hmm... Midas touch seems to be VERY light braggot/white wine hybrid, with no distinctive saffron taste? For 5 gal, ~0.02g, 20mg, of fresh saffron threads are used. I wish I'd seen this earlier though since I was unsure if saffron would survive add @ boil so I steeped and added @+3d. I did 2g dry powdered saffron and immediately on adding I didn't get enough colour nor flavour, but that may have changed now. I do however think there's a huge difference between the dry powdered saffron and the moist, sticky, unprocessed stigmas in terms of flavour per weight, and also there's a huge difference in relative impact depending on the rest of the beer. To me, 2 grams so far seems like way too little.

Should add; I forgot only nordics associate saffron with christmas due to lussebullar (that use 0,5g dry powdered per liter/kg of dough aka ~4g/gal) so it probably wasn't clear this was supposed to be a belgian christmas ale (which are usually belgian darks/dubbels) but made as light as possible to get that yellow/orange saffron colour to pop. I can definitely see how this dry dubbel would be an amazing yeasty ale with a light saffron backdrop and a golden colour (I've never tasted a still bubbling sample as good as this tbh) but as a christmas sipper it definitely needs a lot more saffron, and possibly some nutmeg, cardamom, and almond/amaretto to emphasize it.

If I could re-do my christmas ale, I'd add some more special B, more lactose, switch to darker candi, add some cardamom, nutmeg, and saffron to the boil, and then some yellow food colouring (forgive me) to compensate for the special B/dark candi.

If I was batting for a dry, light, and amazing non-christmas saffron belgo, I'd replace most of the carafoam with more wheat, not add any spice except a lot of saffron (both boil and DH), skip the lactose, up mash pH slightly, and commit sin by DHing mandarina.
 
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