Monday, April 21, 2008

Golden Belgian Strong Ale-Very Strong

I am a great admirer of Ted's brewing abilities, and as his was probably the first beer blog that I started reading regularly, his techniques and approaches inform my brewing a good deal. Which is to say, I rip off his ideas on a regular basis.

Yesterday's batch is a good example. I've talked in the past about my love of doing yeast starters, but I feel Ted does it one better. He brews an experimental batch of about one gallon in volume. It gives a nice amount of viable yeast, you get some beer out of it, and it's easy to try something you haven't yet. If you get stuck with ten beers that are undrinkable, it's a lot less devastating than pitching a full five gallon batch.

So I (with the help of Mike and the beer he brought over) brewed a one gallon Belgian Strong Ale, sort of a Duvel type deal. More accurately, we brewed about 3/4 of a gallon of Belgian Strong Ale (did I mention I learn a ton every time I brew?).

The recipe:

Belgian Pilsner Malt- 2 lbs.
Dextrose- .75 lbs (it was supposed to be .6, but I only noticed this just now)

Crystal- .25 oz.- 60 minutes
Crystal- .25 oz.- 15 minutes
Crystal- .25 oz.- 5 minutes

Wyeast- 1762 Belgian Abbey Ale II

I tried malt into water this time, and we more or less hit all our temperatures, which was nice. I had a revisitation of the false bottom popping up during the sparging process, which sucked, but sucked way less with a small batch than a big one. I am going to make a change to it which should solve that problem once and for all. We also hit our efficiency targets, which was a first for me.

The weirdness began at boiling time. We ended up with a little more wort than I was expecting, so I decided to boil 15 minutes longer than I had originally planned to. You know, for a little extra evaporation. I hadn't taken into consideration that I was using a kettle that was probably too big. That wasn't a problem per se, but the shallower wort + longer boil basically meant that the amount we evaporated was way more than I had planned for. This accomplished two things. One: we ended up with only 3/4 of a gallon of finished beer. Two: the gravity reading in the fermenter was 1.102 instead of 1.089 (see also the extra sugar I used). Not exactly session like.

Thankfully, I picked (read: it was the only one from my list that Brew and Grow had in stock) a yeast that is very tolerant to high amounts of alcohol, so I think this should end up tasting pretty good, without messing up my yeast for the next batch.

Thanks again to Mike for the help with brewing, as well as the excellent Weissbier from Piece. Yummy stuff.


Ted Danyluk said...

Hey Kevin, go ahead and rip them off. That's what its there for. Posted for the world to rip'em off. If there is anything I can do to help more people brew better beer, then that's just great!

This beer looks like it will be quite strong, and quite hoppy! Would love to swap a Mint Stout for one of these...both being one gallon brews.

Kevin LaVoy said...

I'd be happy to swap for one of those mint stouts!

I can't speak for the quality of the bottling job I did on it though. I had never tried bottling out of a jug before, so it was a pretty messy affair.