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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: euge on July 21, 2011, 06:27:01 AM

Title: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: euge on July 21, 2011, 06:27:01 AM
Past its prime. Way past. A Dubbel brewed over three years ago is now too sweet and without enough carbonation, hop bitterness or alcohol to balance it out. About a cloying 1/3 of a goblet and as it warmed up the appeal faded in proportion; so the beer was sacrificed to the sink.

I'm asking for advice on brewing Belgian styles cause mine have been hit or miss. I've read BLAM & FA and while they are informative they are also too generalized to glean much technical info.

So what has given y'all the best results when brewing Belgian styles? I want it all. And the pitfalls too please...

TIA
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: gordonstrong on July 21, 2011, 12:31:37 PM
Any styles in particular?  Saying you want tips on brewing Belgians is like saying you wish you could better understand women.

General tips of mine:
1. Most Belgian beers are drier than you expect.  Mash for attenuation and use sugar.  Don't be afraid to step mash or use up to 20% sugar.
2. Most Belgian beers are fermented cooler than you expect.  Start low and let the yeast free rise.  58F?  No problem.  Try to cool some of these yeasts once they get started?  Problems.
3. Use Belgian malts first, German malts second.  It's what they use.  Almost everyone uses Dingeman Pils as their base.  Seriously.
4. Don't think you have to add a bunch of junk to get flavors.  Belgians get flavor from yeast and sugar.
5. Most Belgian styles are less bitter than you'd expect.  You need less bitterness if you have high attenuation.
6. Some Belgian yeasts take awhile to finish and drop clear.  Don't be afraid to leave them in primary until they're done.
7. Warm conditioning helps many Belgian beers develop character.
8. Many Belgian beers have higher carbonation than you expect.  Trappist beers are bottle conditioned.
9. Belgian beers don't taste like hefeweizens.  If you want a banana bomb, don't make a Belgian beer.
10. If you get a headache after a few sips, you screwed up.  Fuselly isn't a Belgian character.

Got anything in particular you want to discuss?
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: uthristy on July 21, 2011, 12:50:17 PM
I would love the recipe in  may/june zymurgy issue-
"See p. 36-37.  I'm shooting more for a La Rulles Tripel"

I bought the issues at the store only to find its the wrong issue.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: Joe Sr. on July 21, 2011, 03:38:19 PM
I agree with everything Gordon said but would emphasize that the yeast is the thing.  Find a Belgian yeast you like and you should be able to make just about any style with it.

I've had great success with the simplest of recipes.  Pils malt (and pils extract), sugar, hops.  Do this with a couple different yeasts and you can see the different characters of the yeast.

I don't think the type of sugar matters much (I've used just about every sugar you can find at the health food store) but I have not tried the syrups that Denny seems to like so much (darkcandi.com, I believe).  It seems that these syrups will add more character and flavors than simple cane or beet sugar.

Getting the carbonation right is important, too.  I love to see the lacing on the glass!

Maybe when the heat wave passes, I'll brew a strong golden...
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: denny on July 21, 2011, 04:40:18 PM
I don't think the type of sugar matters much (I've used just about every sugar you can find at the health food store) but I have not tried the syrups that Denny seems to like so much (darkcandi.com, I believe).  It seems that these syrups will add more character and flavors than simple cane or beet sugar.

Those are great, but I've found that I like the syrups from candisugar.com even better.  I'll be using their Simplicity (clear) syrup tomorrow for a tripel.  But whichever you use, you'll make a great Belgian style beer with them.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: gordonstrong on July 21, 2011, 05:10:25 PM
I would love the recipe in  may/june zymurgy issue-
"See p. 36-37.  I'm shooting more for a La Rulles Tripel"

I bought the issues at the store only to find its the wrong issue.

It's a page reference to my book, not to Zymurgy.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: udubdawg on July 21, 2011, 05:22:50 PM
I don't think the type of sugar matters much (I've used just about every sugar you can find at the health food store) but I have not tried the syrups that Denny seems to like so much (darkcandi.com, I believe).  It seems that these syrups will add more character and flavors than simple cane or beet sugar.

Those are great, but I've found that I like the syrups from candisyrup.com even better.  I'll be using their Simplicity (clear) syrup tomorrow for a tripel.  But whichever you use, you'll make a great Belgian style beer with them.

fixed...I've given her several page hits too.    ;D
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: narcout on July 21, 2011, 05:23:20 PM
Those are great, but I've found that I like the syrups from candisugar.com even better.  I'll be using their Simplicity (clear) syrup tomorrow for a tripel.  But whichever you use, you'll make a great Belgian style beer with them.

Good to hear; I just bought a couple of pounds from them this week. The fact that the pouches are resealable is already an improvement to me. I'm really interested to see how their clear syrup compares to just using cane sugar (which I've always had great results with in my lighter colored Belgians).
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: richardt on July 21, 2011, 05:39:51 PM
Those are all great tips from Gordon.  People should print that list out IMO.

Quote
1. Most Belgian beers are drier than you expect.  Mash for attenuation and use sugar.  Don't be afraid to step mash or use up to 20% sugar.
--GS

I agree.  Mash lower (148 F) and longer (90 minutes) than you might for other beers.  I'm assuming you're doing AG (not extract).
Toss in a little wheat malt to retain some body (proteins), while the enzymes break up all the starches into sugars.
Give the yeast time to chew up all the sugars, and leave it on the primary yeast cake.
I add the cane sugar a week later (in the fermentor)--I think of it as "dessert" for the yeasties.
Also, like GS says, start (and stay) at low temps (i.e., 64F) and keep it there until you're more than 75% done with fermentation.
I then let it rise to 68F, maybe even 72F at the very end to help it get more attenuated.  I really don't like fusels, either.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: ukolowiczd on July 21, 2011, 05:48:22 PM
I agree with what most people are saying: 15-20% sugar, mostly Dingeman's Pilsener malt, long, low mash temp (145-149F), oxygenate well, bottle condition with double the recommended 3/4 cup for those fine, lacy, effervescent bubbles. Only thing I'm not sure about is the temp. We use Wyeast Ardennes (AChouffe), Trappist and Belgian Saison (DuPont) and we cook the suckers! We start out low around 65F but ramp them up either in the sweltering heat of an upstairs room or in the winter in a small room with a heater. 80F+ I have found is the only way to get that awesome Belgian attenuation that makes them dry and not cloying. We also let them condition in a bottle in 70F+ temps for at least a week.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: euge on July 21, 2011, 06:11:00 PM
Ooh thanks guys. Exciting info Gordon. Exactly the sort of advice I was looking for. Maybe I should get the book already. ;)

Primarily I want to brew Dubbels and Tripels. I'm really a big fan of Chimay Cinq Cents and the Premiere as well. And or some reason I like Affligem Dubbel.

Have tried Denny's Chimaybe recipe several times and each was a dismal failure. Not the recipe of course but euge the brewer's fault. :-\

I'm thinking something simple to start and a small batch to boot.

All Belgian pils and some Simplicity or D90 candy syrup. And I can get D2 locally.

And the yeasts that I've used: WLP570, 530, 565 and Wye 3724. Pretty much the only success I've had has been with the Saison yeasts and had limited results with the Golden Strong yeast
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: oscarvan on July 21, 2011, 06:57:01 PM
I have learned reading and doing that GS is on. W3787 is my fave, but that likes to be warm. Also agree with the "little wheat"
(3-4%) comment, gives it a little tartness without becoming a Heff.

And finally....... a tube of Brett between two buckets on day 3 seems to work really well if you're into that kind of thing. The character develops quickly, and attenuation is very good.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: narcout on July 21, 2011, 07:15:33 PM
I like to pitch Belgians in the low to mid 60's and let them rise into the lower 70's without restraining the temperature.  I tried capping them at 68 a couple of times, and although they attenuated fully, they were a bit too clean tasting (obviously this depends on which yeast strain you are using). In my mind, the fermentation temperature you choose is a balance between getting the full yeast character and avoiding fusel alcohols.

To my palette, Beglians (commercial and homebrewed) can often taste sweet even when fully attenuated due to their high alcohol content. Sometimes I think that it's better to keep the ABV on the lower end of the style.

Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: scooter2374 on July 21, 2011, 07:46:12 PM
Great info fellas. The head brewer at my LBS told me that with the Belgians they do it's all about the yeast and temp control. For their strong golden they recommended finding the warmest spot in the house and leave it there for 2 weeks. It worked perfectly.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: tomsawyer on July 21, 2011, 08:05:26 PM
I would add that your water chemistry should be geared toward malt, not hops.  In other words, keep teh sulfate low and have some chloride.  My tap water is the opposite and I had a bad time with making dubbels taste right.

My other tip goes along with Gordon's suggestion about throwing in the kitchen sink in these recipes.  I have always done that on my dubbels, and I am coming to the conclusion that I've been overusing the Special B and candi syrups in an effort to get a really good dark fruit and caramel flavor.  What I end up with is something that is burnt and kind of harsh.  My next dubbel is going to have less of these.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: denny on July 21, 2011, 08:07:32 PM
I have learned reading and doing that GS is on. W3787 is my fave, but that likes to be warm.

What temp do you mean by "warm"?  I typically run it 62-65 and it works great.  After a week or so I let it start rising to maybe 68-70 to finish.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: Joe Sr. on July 21, 2011, 09:15:37 PM
I think finishing warm is very important.  I've done them in the past where they don't get much above 65 (ambient basement, dead of winter) and they didn't have enough "Belgian character." 

It was disappointing, but not as bad as the skull crusher fusels I had in another batch that went way too hot.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: narvin on July 21, 2011, 09:22:31 PM
Agree with Gordon here.  Make it dry, and no banana.  I'm not a fan of the bubblegum fruit/phenol explosion that a lot of American versions have either.

Although, I buy MFB Pils just because I can get it for so much cheaper than Dingemans, and I'm quite pleased with it.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: oscarvan on July 21, 2011, 11:27:44 PM
I have learned reading and doing that GS is on. W3787 is my fave, but that likes to be warm.

What temp do you mean by "warm"?  I typically run it 62-65 and it works great.  After a week or so I let it start rising to maybe 68-70 to finish.

I have been higher than that......68-ish in the fermenter.....up a degree every day, starting the third or fourth day (when the kraeusen  subsides) to 74......Happy with the results, but I'll give your numbers a try on a batch to see if I like it better.)
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: EHall on July 21, 2011, 11:55:56 PM
I agree with pretty much everything said... I start mine out around 60-65 for a couple days then start ramping up and eventually pull it out of the fermenter and bring it to a relatively warm spot in the house... I've gone all the way up to 80F to finish. They turn out good. I also think that a dubbel is not something that should be around for 3+yrs...
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: euge on July 22, 2011, 01:50:09 AM
...I also think that a dubbel is not something that should be around for 3+yrs... 

I agree. At about 1.5 years it was quite good but that window closed rapidly. There's only one 12oz bottle left. And that has a crown cap.

So now to racking. Is a Belgian style better in the bottle or on tap? And should the bottles be the traditional corked types we normally see or are crown caps sufficient?
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: tomsawyer on July 22, 2011, 01:52:53 AM
I cork and cage the traditional bottles just for fun and the presentation factor.  I don't keg because its not a beer I want a lot of at a time, and I don't want to tie up a keg for months.  Thats reserved for lagers.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: oscarvan on July 22, 2011, 02:45:14 AM
Keg...drink....yummy. More.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: troy@uk on July 22, 2011, 11:53:01 AM
For more on fermenting temps and desired profiles for various yeasts check out this pdf from whitelabs.com

http://www.whitelabs.com/beer/belgianchart.pdf

I wish there were something like this for other yeasts!!!
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: SpanishCastleAle on July 22, 2011, 12:08:51 PM
The last Quad I did I followed a temp schedule recommended by someone who had successfully brewed Westy/Sint Bernardus clones.  Start at ~64* F and let free rise to ~82* F or so.  I feared fusels, banana, bubblegum, etc. but I went with it (but only reached 76* F) and it is probably the cleanest big Belgian I've ever made (but just going from a sample at racking).  Surprisingly not hot and no noticable fusels.  I've gotten fusels keeping it below 68* F for the entire ferment.  This was 3787.

Some Belgian yeasts seem to be more finicky/difficult to get right.  I've not had much luck with Chimay yeast and much better luck with 3787.  The others I've only used once or twice but I did like the Rochefort yeast (WLP540/WY1762).
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: tomsawyer on July 22, 2011, 01:21:43 PM
Thats good to hear.  I've pretty much got a phobia about fermenting above 70F and I've seen instances where its turned out just fine.  Maybe I should reset my phobia to 75F and exclude day 5+.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: BrewingRover on July 22, 2011, 04:53:38 PM
For more on fermenting temps and desired profiles for various yeasts check out this pdf from whitelabs.com

http://www.whitelabs.com/beer/belgianchart.pdf

I wish there were something like this for other yeasts!!!

Brew Like a Monk has a similar chart for Wyeast's Belgian strains. One for other yeasts would be nice though, wouldn't it?
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: rightasrain on July 24, 2011, 02:12:42 AM
Quote
Those are great, but I've found that I like the syrups from candisugar.com even better.  I'll be using their Simplicity (clear) syrup tomorrow for a tripel.  But whichever you use, you'll make a great Belgian style beer with them.

That is so cool they ship the sugar in reusable water bottles. It makes me just want to go hug a tree.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: oscarvan on July 24, 2011, 02:18:13 PM
3787 rocks.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: dhacker on July 25, 2011, 01:19:14 AM
Those are great, but I've found that I like the syrups from candisugar.com even better.  I'll be using their Simplicity (clear) syrup tomorrow for a tripel.  But whichever you use, you'll make a great Belgian style beer with them.

I picked up a pouch of the D180 to put in the quad I made last Saturday . . Good stuff! I think I'd even prefer it to Hershey's over my ice cream!
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: tomsawyer on July 25, 2011, 01:31:20 AM
The website is candisyrup.com.  I googled candisugar.com and got a realtor, she was cute but not that sweet.

I just ordered a pouch of each of their products, the description sounds good.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: cfleisher on July 31, 2011, 04:51:46 AM
I agree with Gordon's suggestion about starting with lower temps than you'd expect. I just brewed a saison I thought was going to be perfect, but started it at close to 80 degrees (the temperature at which many people recommended) but I got some fusels. I think it would have been better to have started it lower (maybe 68-70 degrees) and let it warm up.

Also, I used to be way big into spices, but the best Belgians I've done have just been the result of careful attention to the yeast.
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: 1vertical on July 31, 2011, 03:31:25 PM
Euge, sage advise coming forward here.  I would scrap the candi and go for the D2
when you are making a dubbel.. otherwise like in something lighter, candi prolly is a great choice.
I am partial to Jaggery for my belgians when I add sugar, else piloncillo which to me is very similar.

Gordon, I am getting good results with Best Maltz pilz and will prolly stick with that malt.

Also, I add a handful of wheat, and a handful of BELGIAN aromatic and a handful of Carafoam
2 are for the head and the other is for the aromatics....I do this to ALL of my belgians.

Saison yeast that really kicks butt is the WY 3711 it is a monster.  But when you use saison yeast
expect a saison beer.....
Likely, when you use trappist yeast stay in the trappist venue of beer recipes. 
Hops are not promenent IMO and I don't recall brewing over 40 IBU's in my calculations.
Just my $.02
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: andrew on July 31, 2011, 05:14:06 PM
sorry to somewhat alter the subject on the thread but...

what about wyeast 3724? I know if you ferment too warm you get fusels, but the Temperature Range is 70-95F per the wyeast specs. I believe its the Dupont strain which is normally fermented closer to 90 as described in "Farmhouse Ales" and on the wyeast site.  I made a starter last night and thought about pitching at 65 and then letting rise into the mid to upper 80s. Kinda makes me a little nervous about it, but on the other hand Saison Dupont is pretty tastey! I had been using 3711, but this time I figured why not try the other one too? Anyone have any luck with it or does it turn out too fusely?
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: 1vertical on July 31, 2011, 05:37:36 PM
Andrew, This off topic thread may shed some light on that question.

Denny told me to let it (3724) ramp WAY up in temp He was NOT kidding.

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=3250.msg37211#msg37211  (http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=3250.msg37211#msg37211)

It depends a lot on the yeast you use, too.  3711 works great in the low 60s.  But 3724 likes to finish in the 80s or even 90s.

And Euge this thread was put up a while back....did ya see it go by?
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=3264.msg36837#msg36837 (http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=3264.msg36837#msg36837)
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: andrew on July 31, 2011, 06:11:12 PM
Andrew, This off topic thread may shed some light on that question.

Denny told me to let it (3724) ramp WAY up in temp He was NOT kidding.

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=3250.msg37211#msg37211  (http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=3250.msg37211#msg37211)

It depends a lot on the yeast you use, too.  3711 works great in the low 60s.  But 3724 likes to finish in the 80s or even 90s.

And Euge this thread was put up a while back....did ya see it go by?
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=3264.msg36837#msg36837 (http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=3264.msg36837#msg36837)

thanks!  I guess I should have searched for it first... but since we were on the topic of belgians and to a lesser extent fusels I figured I would ask.

Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: 1vertical on July 31, 2011, 06:15:57 PM
It is all good.... :D
Title: Re: Poured out that old Belgian
Post by: euge on July 31, 2011, 08:24:05 PM
Thanks for the link! I hadn't seen it before...