Belgian Golden Strong Ale The Mighty Gnome

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Gnomebrewer

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Recipe Type
All Grain
Yeast
WY1214
Yeast Starter
See notes
Additional Yeast or Yeast Starter
Nope
Batch Size (Gallons)
5/10
Original Gravity
1.080
Final Gravity
1.009
Boiling Time (Minutes)
60
IBU
32
Color
Yellow
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp)
See Notes
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp)
See Notes
Additional Fermentation
See Notes
Tasting Notes
Delicious. Up front banana-led fruitiness, spice and cracker-like maltiness with a dry, spicy finish. Very drinkable.
I love a good yeast driven beer. How satisfying is it to brew something that ends up with flavours that you didn't even add, thanks to the work of our microscopic friends? That was my challenge with brewing a strong, pale Belgian beer - brew a big, pale Belgian beer without using spices, that is drinkable ('digestable') and has some of the bold flavours that Belgian's are known for. I've tried many recipes and processes and this is the first that I would consider worthy of sharing with the brewing community. This has some background fruit (mostly banana, but also some pear and light stonefruit), a noticeable dash of pepper like spiciness and some nice crackery malt. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Firstly, although this recipe is simple, fermentation temperature control is critical. If you can't control your ferment, try WY3522. Although I haven't used it for this recipe, I know from experience that it's far more temperature tolerant than WY1214 and should give a great beer. DON'T USE WY1214 IF YOU CAN'T CONTROL FERMENT TEMPS!. Why - WY1214 gives sickening levels of acetone and banana if temps get too high - IME above about 68 in the early stages of the ferment. That's ferment temp - not room temp. With temp control, WY1214 gives a delectable balance of spice and fruit with very little alcohol heat.

So, the recipe. I wanted a simple beer that used all base malt and no fancy syrups to give a great beer with fruit and spice. I like a bit more hop than a typical tripel or Golden strong, giving a balanced rather than 'sweet' tasting beer. This is it. This is NOT like chimay white (although the yeast qualities are similar) - if you like chimay, try cutting back on the hops and sugar, and add some crystal malt. It's much sweeter, darker and fruitier than this recipe!

66.67& Pils malt (I use Bestmalz)
16.67% Vienna malt (again, I use Bestmalz - it's what I can get!)
16.67% Dextrose (add at the end of the boil or dissolve and add directly to the fermenter).
26IBU of Perle at 60 mins.
1/2g/L Saaz at 30 mins.
1/2g/L Saaz at 10 mins.
Mash at 145 for 30 mins, then 158 for 30 mins.
If you look at your water profile, aim for 60ppm Calcium with 2:1 sulphate:chloride ratio. Aim for a 5.7 mash pH and 5.2 boil pH (add acid to the boil).

YEAST AND FERMENT:
This is important. More important than for most beers. This is where the flavours and drinkable qualities of the beer come from. The recipe is simple, the ferment needs some love.
Pitch a good amount of fresh, healthy yeast slurry. You can't use a single packet of yeast for a beer of this size (even for a 5 gallon batch) and expect a good beer. Either make a big starter or use some slurry from a prior batch. I use 3/4 cup of slurry per 5 gallons, from a fresh batch of low alcohol (<6% beer). Aerate thoroughly. I use 30 seconds of pure O2.
Pitch yeast at or a bit below 64F (18C).
Maintain this temperature (ferment temp, not ambient temp) for 3 days after the start of active ferment (ferment should be active in about 12 hours if you used nice, fresh yeast) then raise 2 degrees F or 1 degree C per day until you reach 70F/21C. Hold this until beer is at or slightly above 1.012 then transfer to secondary. Secondaries aren't popular these days and I rarely use them, but this yeast just doesn't clear (IME) if left on the yeast cake. Make sure you transfer with some points remaining - it's better to transfer a bit early rather than a bit late, to ensure there is some yeast activity to clean up oxygen. After transferring to secondary, hold 70F/21C for three more days then drop to 54F/12C for 7 to 10 days before kegging or bottling.

Carbonate to 3.5+ volumes - you want this effervescent. If kegging, leave for at least a month at room temp (preferably longer) to help the flavours mellow and meld. This is a big beer - don't rush it. If bottling, it takes at least a month at room temperature to carbonate (I've tried them at three weeks and there isn't any fizz). They taste better after 6 to 8 weeks (the longer the better).
Throughout the ferment this yeast throws some amazingly fruity aromas, along with some awful banana/acetone flavours. Don't worry - as long as the ferment temperatures were controlled, the banana/acetone mellows out to some really nice banana/fruit/spice.

This beer, to me, is perfect. Each sip is rich and intensely flavoured, but dry and bitter enough that you want to pick the glass up again as soon as you've put it down! You wouldn't know that it comes in at over 9%ABV!
 

Shenanigans

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I love a good yeast driven beer. How satisfying is it to brew something that ends up with flavours that you didn't even add, thanks to the work of our microscopic friends? That was my challenge with brewing a strong, pale Belgian beer - brew a big, pale Belgian beer without using spices, that is drinkable ('digestable') and has some of the bold flavours that Belgian's are known for. I've tried many recipes and processes and this is the first that I would consider worthy of sharing with the brewing community. This has some background fruit (mostly banana, but also some pear and light stonefruit), a noticeable dash of pepper like spiciness and some nice crackery malt. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Firstly, although this recipe is simple, fermentation temperature control is critical. If you can't control your ferment, try WY3522. Although I haven't used it for this recipe, I know from experience that it's far more temperature tolerant than WY1214 and should give a great beer. DON'T USE WY1214 IF YOU CAN'T CONTROL FERMENT TEMPS!. Why - WY1214 gives sickening levels of acetone and banana if temps get too high - IME above about 68 in the early stages of the ferment. That's ferment temp - not room temp. With temp control, WY1214 gives a delectable balance of spice and fruit with very little alcohol heat.

So, the recipe. I wanted a simple beer that used all base malt and no fancy syrups to give a great beer with fruit and spice. I like a bit more hop than a typical tripel or Golden strong, giving a balanced rather than 'sweet' tasting beer. This is it. This is NOT like chimay white (although the yeast qualities are similar) - if you like chimay, try cutting back on the hops and sugar, and add some crystal malt. It's much sweeter, darker and fruitier than this recipe!

66.67& Pils malt (I use Bestmalz)
16.67% Vienna malt (again, I use Bestmalz - it's what I can get!)
16.67% Dextrose (add at the end of the boil or dissolve and add directly to the fermenter).
26IBU of Perle at 60 mins.
1/2g/L Saaz at 30 mins.
1/2g/L Saaz at 10 mins.
Mash at 145 for 30 mins, then 158 for 30 mins.
If you look at your water profile, aim for 60ppm Calcium with 2:1 sulphate:chloride ratio. Aim for a 5.7 mash pH and 5.2 boil pH (add acid to the boil).

YEAST AND FERMENT:
This is important. More important than for most beers. This is where the flavours and drinkable qualities of the beer come from. The recipe is simple, the ferment needs some love.
Pitch a good amount of fresh, healthy yeast slurry. You can't use a single packet of yeast for a beer of this size (even for a 5 gallon batch) and expect a good beer. Either make a big starter or use some slurry from a prior batch. I use 3/4 cup of slurry per 5 gallons, from a fresh batch of low alcohol (<6% beer). Aerate thoroughly. I use 30 seconds of pure O2.
Pitch yeast at or a bit below 64F (18C).
Maintain this temperature (ferment temp, not ambient temp) for 3 days after the start of active ferment (ferment should be active in about 12 hours if you used nice, fresh yeast) then raise 2 degrees F or 1 degree C per day until you reach 70F/21C. Hold this until beer is at or slightly above 1.012 then transfer to secondary. Secondaries aren't popular these days and I rarely use them, but this yeast just doesn't clear (IME) if left on the yeast cake. Make sure you transfer with some points remaining - it's better to transfer a bit early rather than a bit late, to ensure there is some yeast activity to clean up oxygen. After transferring to secondary, hold 70F/21C for three more days then drop to 54F/12C for 7 to 10 days before kegging or bottling.

Carbonate to 3.5+ volumes - you want this effervescent. If kegging, leave for at least a month at room temp (preferably longer) to help the flavours mellow and meld. This is a big beer - don't rush it. If bottling, it takes at least a month at room temperature to carbonate (I've tried them at three weeks and there isn't any fizz). They taste better after 6 to 8 weeks (the longer the better).
Throughout the ferment this yeast throws some amazingly fruity aromas, along with some awful banana/acetone flavours. Don't worry - as long as the ferment temperatures were controlled, the banana/acetone mellows out to some really nice banana/fruit/spice.

This beer, to me, is perfect. Each sip is rich and intensely flavoured, but dry and bitter enough that you want to pick the glass up again as soon as you've put it down! You wouldn't know that it comes in at over 9%ABV!
Thanks for the recipe and he detailed fermentation schedule.
Sounds like a tasty brew.
I have lots of beers on the to brew list but ill come back to this one in the near future.
I love an ice cold strong golden Belgian ale with thick homemade fries and chili mayonnaise :yes:
 

Joyrider

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Hi Gnomebrewer, thanks for the recipe. Now i'm trying to convert it to liters and grams/kilograms for a 20 liter batch.
Hope this will work for me. If you have any suggestions than please do not hesitate to inform me ;-)
 
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Gnomebrewer

Gnomebrewer

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Hi Gnomebrewer, thanks for the recipe. Now i'm trying to convert it to liters and grams/kilograms for a 20 liter batch.
Hope this will work for me. If you have any suggestions than please do not hesitate to inform me ;-)
Thanks Joyrider - if you brew it, let me know how it turns out!

For 20 litres, it will depend on your efficiency.
At 80% efficiency, you'll use about 4Kg of Pils malt, 1Kg of Vienna Malt and 1Kg of Dextrose.
At 70% efficiency, you'll use about 4.5Kg of Pils malt, 1.125Kg of Vienna and 1.125Kg of Dextrose.
If your Perle is around 8%AAU, then you'll use about 35g. Then 10g of saaz at 30 minutes and 10g at 10 minutes.
 

Joyrider

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Thanks Joyrider - if you brew it, let me know how it turns out!

For 20 litres, it will depend on your efficiency.
At 80% efficiency, you'll use about 4Kg of Pils malt, 1Kg of Vienna Malt and 1Kg of Dextrose.
At 70% efficiency, you'll use about 4.5Kg of Pils malt, 1.125Kg of Vienna and 1.125Kg of Dextrose.
If your Perle is around 8%AAU, then you'll use about 35g. Then 10g of saaz at 30 minutes and 10g at 10 minutes.
Hi Gnomebrewer, thank you very much. I will let you know!!
 
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Gnomebrewer

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Started brewing today. So far so good :yes: Just one more question. Do you add sugar before botteling?
Nice pictures!

Yes, you'll need to add sugar for bottling. I like it at about 3.6 volumes which is quite fizzy. If you use normal glass bottles (as I do) make sure they are stored somewhere that they won't do damage if one explodes (I've never had it happen, but the potential is there) and handle them carefully. Use heavier glass bottles if you have them.
 
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Gnomebrewer

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For 20 litres, it will depend on your efficiency.
At 80% efficiency, you'll use about 4Kg of Pils malt, 1Kg of Vienna Malt and 1Kg of Dextrose.
At 70% efficiency, you'll use about 4.5Kg of Pils malt, 1.125Kg of Vienna and 1.125Kg of Dextrose.
If your Perle is around 8%AAU, then you'll use about 35g. Then 10g of saaz at 30 minutes and 10g at 10 minutes.
looks very nice. now i just have to convert it to pounds/ounces and get brewing
For any brewers wanting imperial quantities:
5 gallons:
80% efficiency: 8.8lbs pils malt, 2.2lbs vienna malt, 2.2lbs dextrose.
70% efficiency: 10lbs pils malt, 2.8lbs vienna, 2.8lbs dextrose.
1.25oz perle (at 8AAU) at 60 minutes. 1/3oz saaz at 30 minutes and 10 minutes.
 

Joyrider

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Hi There, here is an update. The beer is lagering right now. Did not make a yeast starter but only used the WY3522. First tastings are very promising. I will send in the beer for a competition. I will let you know what the final resuts are.20190202_111814.jpg20190202_111814.jpg20190209_132735.jpg20190221_172953.jpg 20190209_113406.jpg20190221_182501.jpg20190221_182739.jpg
 
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Gnomebrewer

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Hi There, here is an update. The beer is lagering right now. Did not make a yeast starter but only used the WY3522. First tastings are very promising. I will send in the beer for a competition. I will let you know what the final resuts are.
Awesome. WY3522 is a great yeast - probably my favourite Belgian.
 

MaxStout

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I'm planning on doing this brew later this spring, but want to use 3522 (better floc, as I'm not doing a secondary). I have a ferm chamber, so temp control is not the issue.

With that yeast, would you recommend the same ferm temp schedule--start low, ramp up for a few days, then cold-crash and lager 7-10 days?
 
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3522 is my favourite Belgian yeast and I'm keen to try this recipe with it as well. I do that with all Belgian yeasts kind of schedule with all Belgian yeasts, based on something I read somewhere (I can't remember where) and it seems to work quite well. I'd go warmer with 3522 though - it doesn't get the acetone (IME) that 1214 does.
 

MaxStout

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3522 is my favourite Belgian yeast and I'm keen to try this recipe with it as well. I do that with all Belgian yeasts kind of schedule with all Belgian yeasts, based on something I read somewhere (I can't remember where) and it seems to work quite well. I'd go warmer with 3522 though - it doesn't get the acetone (IME) that 1214 does.
Thanks. Wyeast gives a ferm temp range of 65-76F for 3522. Where in that range should I be for the early stages of fermentation?
 

Joyrider

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Hello there, the results of the Open Dutch Championships amateur(craft)brewers:
There were 162 beers competing mine. I was 6th in place with 83 of 100 points. So great result.
 

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Gnomebrewer

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Hello there, the results of the Open Dutch Championships amateur(craft)brewers:
There were 162 beers competing mine. I was 6th in place with 83 of 100 points. So great result.
Congratulations - that's a great result! Your process must be solid.
I'm definitely going to have to give 3522 a try in this beer.
 

MaxStout

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I brewed mine about a week and a half ago. Underestimated boiloff, so ended up with 4.75 gallons into the fermenter, and OG was 1.087. Chilled to 64, pitched a 2L starter of 3522, oxygenated 120 seconds with O2, and set the ferm chamber for 65F. No problems with blowoff, due to 4.75 gal in a 7 gal Brew Bucket. :) After 3 days, ramped up the temp a couple degrees a day, to 72F.

In a few days I plan to rack to a secondary, keep it at 70 or so a few days, then drop to 55-60 to bulk-age a few weeks. Then I'll bottle. I have a bunch of Grolsch swingtops I picked up on Craigslist, will carb to 3.5 vols or so.
 

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I was getting all ready to rack to secondary after 12 days in primary. I hadn't cold-crashed it and it was sitting at 70F. I decided to pop off the top of the Brew Bucket, and good thing. There is still a nice layer of krausen sitting on top. Took a gravity reading--1.015, about 83% attenuation if my math is right. I'll keep it in the ferm chamber a while longer at 70-72, then cold-crash and check again. It's a big beer (even bigger since I overshot my OG), so it'll take time.

Edit: I tasted the hydro sample. Nice, estery aroma and flavor right up front. Clove, with a little banana in the background. Alcohol burn, being 9.5% ABV green beer, but I detected no off-flavors.
 
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