Jul 12, 2009

Belgain Blonde / Bavarian Amber

Belgian Amber:
O.G. = 1.061
7% ABV

Amber Lager:
O.G. = 1.052
5% ABV

I have not thought of cute names for these two yet. Brewday went quite well -- it was the first time I used my new keggle, so it was also the first time I was able to brew a full ten gallons.

Malt and other Fermentables:

12 lbs Pilsener Malt
10 lbs Munich Malt
1 lb CaraPils Dextrine Malt
1 lb Piloncillo (in Blonde)


2 oz Sterling (7%AA) -- 60 minutes
1 oz Mount Hood (6%AA) -- 20 minutes
1 oz Mount Hood (6%AA) -- 15 minutes (with two Whirlfloc tabs)

Bavarian Amber -- Wyeast Bavarian Lager Yeast
Belgian Blonde -- Wyeast Ardennes Yeast

What follows is what I wrote while I was brewing:

13 gallons to get 12 with 1 boiling off.
5.5 in each carboy = 11
152 degrees after 15min -- (set tun loss lower than .3 next time)
added a few ice cubes and that brought the temp down a few degrees. Left lid open for a little while and got it close to 147.
Only mashed for 60 minutes oops! Thought about shutting run-off down for a few minutes, but then reconsidered because the sparge water was cooling.
Added two whirlfloc.
Will there be a pronounced caramel flavor? I boiled that piloncillo pretty good (in wort)

Reflections on Brewday
Things went rather well for having a pretty new set-up. I got a little retarded for a minute, and only mashed for 60 minutes. We will see if that caused any issues. More wort boiled off than I planned, but there was still the right amount for the two carboys. My biggest challenge was chilling that much wort, and i only got it down around 100 degrees before bringing it in the house. I figured the chest freezer will chill the lager wort down quicker, and I will be able to pitch the Belgian yeast around 85 degrees if I need to. Next time I will have a new lager chiller and my current one will be a pre-chiller. I will measure gravities once the wort cools down to pitching temperature.

Belgian Blond Notes:

7.13.09 -- Pitched yeast after wort cooled close to room temperature (80 degrees, and holding pretty steady)
7.20.09 -- Gravity has gone from 1.061 to 1.010 -- 83% attenuated. It was hard to tell how this may taste from the sample. I did taste something like the phenolic / fusel character of the Black Belgian, then again, maybe it is paranoia.
7.22.09 -- I read yesterday how the solvent character can be produced by initially high temperatures instead of letting it climb. I was then reminded that the Belgian beers I have made in cold weather, and then placed in the water with the aquarium heater (Dubbel Dubbel, Farmhouse Ale) did not have this characteristic since the temperature rose as fermentation progressed. Here we have one that started higher than or right at the fermentation temperature, so I am a bit worried. My fears are a bit assuaged with the taste of my Strong Golden Ale, but I will not know for sure until I take another gravity reading in a couple of days.
7.24.09 -- Gravity down to 1.007. I still detect a hint of ethyl acetate (solvent character), but it is not as pronounced as in the Black Belgian. It may not be so much of a distraction that I won't want to drink it, and it may become less detectable with carbonation and a cooler serving temperature.
7.25.09 -- Kegged. I will try to hold off on this for a week or so for conditioning purposes. Smelling the beer as it racked made me less worried about the ethyl acetate. I think what I am smelling is the spicyness of the yeast. Keep your fingers crossed.
8.2.09 -- This beer has a sour / spicy note that is what I thought was the ethyl acetate. It is of a higher alcohol nature, so I am pretty sure it is there because of the way I fermented this beer. It is a fine ale, and I will drink it all and derive much pleasure from doing so. I am even more anxious to try the batch that is fermenting now because I got that one down in the 60s before pitching.
10.05.09 -- from above: "and I will be able to pitch the Belgian yeast around 85 degrees if I need to". This is the greatest lesson from this batch of beer as well as the rest of the Belgian lot I brewed this summer -- that Belgian yeast can take the heat, but they need to start cool. The good news is that after a while of being ignored, the acetate flavors seem to have mellowed to hardly noticeable at all. I hope this is not wishful thinking. By Ardenes abbey ale has a little of it too from fermenting at 80 degrees, but that seems to be mellowing too.

Bavarian Amber Notes:
7.13.09 -- Pitched yeast after wort sat in the chest cooler for about 24 hours.
7.20.09 -- Gravity has gone from 1.052 to 1.031. This needs to get around 1.024 before I start my diacetyl rest.
7.24.09 -- Gravity down to 1.020 -- started rest at around 65 degrees.
7.28.09 -- Racked into secondary and began lagering. Final gravity - 1.014.
10.18.09 -- Kegged and gassed this beer about two weeks ago to make room for the Precipitator in the chest freezer. This beer lagered for much longer than the typical DSB lager, and it seems to show. The beer is very easy drinking and crisp with a nice contribution from the Mount Hood. This is one of the best beers I have made in a while, which is something I needed.

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