Author Topic: belgians for ageing  (Read 1373 times)

Offline morticaixavier

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belgians for ageing
« on: January 05, 2012, 11:14:18 AM »
So I am getting ready to brew the second of an annual big beer to celebrate my sons birth. First year was a barley wine with maple syrup and it is ageing well. this year I think I want to do a belgian but I wonder what style will best lend itself to long ageing. The idea is to keep it around for years, maybe even long enough for him to try some when he's old enough. I also try to include ingredients with meaningful origins.

last year was maple syrup cause my wife and I are from Vermont and strongly associate ourselves as Vermonters still, even though we live in california. and Ivanhoe hops which are a heirloom california hop variety as he is a native born Californian.

This year I want to use some honey from my wife's uncle in VT and some meyer lemon from California and possibly some blue berries to bring in my heritage as a Maineiac. I was also thinking of ginger as it super yummy with both lemon and blueberries.

I generally try to keep my recipes pretty simple but given these three (or four) ingredients that might already be out the window. I was thinknig belgian quad or, just now, a lambic which should lend itself to long ageing but I don't know how it holds up once in the bottle.

so the field is pretty wide open. I am not married to the style guidlines either but it seems like a belgian yeast or yeast/bug combo would match well with the other ingedients I want to use.

So let's hear it. ideas?
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Jonathan I Fuller

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Re: belgians for ageing
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2012, 11:32:34 AM »
I made a dubbel with date syrup and ginger. It also has an ABV around 9%, higher than average for dubbel, but I intended to age it. I used about 1/2lb of ginger which was strong at first but aged and mellowed very well.  This was bottled in 2007 and I had one a few months ago, it was great. The flavor now is mostly dates and ginger.  We remade this in 2010 and added blended some of the old batch with the new batch at bottling (about 3% old).
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Offline hokerer

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Re: belgians for ageing
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2012, 01:07:50 PM »
A quad is the same thing as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale, right?  I might switch to a Belgian Golden Strong Ale as there would be fewer "dark related" flavors masking your specialty additions.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: belgians for ageing
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2012, 01:57:54 PM »
A quad is the same thing as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale, right?  I might switch to a Belgian Golden Strong Ale as there would be fewer "dark related" flavors masking your specialty additions.

good idea! I will look into it!

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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: belgians for ageing
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2012, 02:23:10 PM »
I would think that the darker beer would age better, but I'm not sure that I have reasoning to back that up.

I don't think that you'll get too much flavor from the honey to worry about masking it.  At least I never have.  Except for buckwheat honey but I'll never try that again.

Would you zest the lemons?  I would think you could use that like bitter orange peel.

I think a strong dubbel, as suggested, is a good route and could work well with blueberries.  I get a lot of fruit from some of the darker Belgians, so I think that could work.

When you start adding ginger as well I think you might be getting too many different flavors in there.  Just my opinion.

Are you going to try a test batch?  Or go all in and just brew it?

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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: belgians for ageing
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2012, 02:33:45 PM »
I would think that the darker beer would age better, but I'm not sure that I have reasoning to back that up.

I don't think that you'll get too much flavor from the honey to worry about masking it.  At least I never have.  Except for buckwheat honey but I'll never try that again.

Would you zest the lemons?  I would think you could use that like bitter orange peel.

I think a strong dubbel, as suggested, is a good route and could work well with blueberries.  I get a lot of fruit from some of the darker Belgians, so I think that could work.

When you start adding ginger as well I think you might be getting too many different flavors in there.  Just my opinion.

Are you going to try a test batch?  Or go all in and just brew it?



Ahh, just going to wing it. I also tend to think of darker beers for ageing but I can't imagine why that would be true. I think it's a perception thing. bright, golden beers just look fresher.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: belgians for ageing
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2012, 03:50:14 PM »
One thing to consider is that I've found that spices will fade with time.

I haven't used ginger in years (since I over gingered a ginger-honey ale), so I don't know if or how much that will fade.

I applaud your efforts.  I've brewed special beers for each of my kids, but we drank them to celebrate their christenings and didn't really keep any.  They each got their own style, though.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: belgians for ageing
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2012, 03:55:39 PM »
One thing to consider is that I've found that spices will fade with time.

I haven't used ginger in years (since I over gingered a ginger-honey ale), so I don't know if or how much that will fade.

I applaud your efforts.  I've brewed special beers for each of my kids, but we drank them to celebrate their christenings and didn't really keep any.  They each got their own style, though.

Yeah I did a ginger BDS for 2010 xmas ale and the ginger faded to a background note within a couple months. I am thinking the ginger is out at this point unless I get a particularly wild hair.
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Re: belgians for ageing
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2012, 05:43:05 PM »
Dark beers do age longer because dark malts have an anti-oxidant effect. I do not think tripels lend themselves well to long aging periods, though certainly they can be good 6 months and beyond they are usually better when fresh. In fact, a lot of traditional trappist type beers seem to lose their nice "belgian yeast spice" after they pick up some age. OTOH beers with brett and other funky sour beers age wonderfully as the bugs continue to work in the beer. Even low gravity belgian ales with some wildness improve and become more complex as they age. Especially when aged in oak. You may want to be prepared to blend them, however.

Ginger flavor may fade, I'm not sure, but the heat sure doesn't. I made a ginger beer years and years ago that turned out really spicy like gingered ale. It was very hot and it retained that ginger spiciness almost a year later. I can;t recall for sure but it seemed like it retained most of the ginger flavor as well. I just remember how "hot" the beer was.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: belgians for ageing
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2012, 09:44:12 AM »
Dark beers do age longer because dark malts have an anti-oxidant effect. I do not think tripels lend themselves well to long aging periods, though certainly they can be good 6 months and beyond they are usually better when fresh. In fact, a lot of traditional trappist type beers seem to lose their nice "belgian yeast spice" after they pick up some age. OTOH beers with brett and other funky sour beers age wonderfully as the bugs continue to work in the beer. Even low gravity belgian ales with some wildness improve and become more complex as they age. Especially when aged in oak. You may want to be prepared to blend them, however.

Ginger flavor may fade, I'm not sure, but the heat sure doesn't. I made a ginger beer years and years ago that turned out really spicy like gingered ale. It was very hot and it retained that ginger spiciness almost a year later. I can;t recall for sure but it seemed like it retained most of the ginger flavor as well. I just remember how "hot" the beer was.

I love learning new things! that makes sense on the anti-oxidant effects of darker malts. I am glad to hear about the brett/bugs. I was thinking that was the case but I just wasn't sure. I also have a 20L rum barrel that this will go into and it will be the third batch through the barrel so perhaps, rather than wait for the barrel to get infected I will pitch brett (and maybe bugs) in with this batch.

so what about something like (and this is totally off the top of my head)

6.5 gallons

15 lbs wheat malt
2 lbs raw wheat
a cup or so of whole wheat flour in the boil
2 lbs honey

a small charge of low AA hops (I will get some closeout 2010 or maybe even 2009 hops) @ 60 minutes
thinly sliced meyer lemon (maybe 2 or 3 lemons) @ 0 minutes

ferment with ECY bug farm (if I can get it) or a blend of some other companies bugs or some bugs from a guy in my club or even from the wild starter I have sitting in my fridge (although that seems awfully risky as I havn't actually tried that at all)

Can I ferment in the barrel? or would it be better to do a primary in a bucket and transfer to the barrel for ageing/finishing?
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Re: belgians for ageing
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2012, 10:22:05 AM »
I think it would be better to go to the barrel post ferment.
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Re: belgians for ageing
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2012, 10:41:17 AM »
Most sour beers age well. I would try fermenting with a nuetral strain like 001 or something similiar then rack into the barrel with some Brett for an extended aging period.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: belgians for ageing
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2012, 11:11:31 AM »
Hurray! my first sour beer is in the works! I really am liking this idea. an all wheat lemon honey sour beer. as wonderfully distinct and unusual as the little man it is inspired by.

I will tinker with the recipe when I get home to beersmith. It's particularly nice cause I already have the bulk of the ingredients.
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Re: belgians for ageing
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2012, 12:13:23 PM »
Since it's a sour then it won't be that hoppy.

Also to remember is that hops also fade after time. I drank my last 3 year old Abbey and it was waaay past it's prime. And no hop character or bitterness.

I think it's something like 40-50% fade within a year. Just dredging up from memory what JZ said during an episode of BS.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: belgians for ageing
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2012, 12:42:03 PM »
Since it's a sour then it won't be that hoppy.

Also to remember is that hops also fade after time. I drank my last 3 year old Abbey and it was waaay past it's prime. And no hop character or bitterness.

I think it's something like 40-50% fade within a year. Just dredging up from memory what JZ said during an episode of BS.

The place I get most of my ingredients sometimes has old prior year or year before that hops cheap. so I will see if I can get some closeout saaz or something.
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