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Hoppy Belgian Ale

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erockrph:
Wyeast has released the Unibroue strain (3864), so it's time to start planning some Belgian brews. I'm planning on doing a moderate gravity beer to propagate for an eventual BDS down the line. I figured this would be a good chance to try out the combo of Caliente hops with Special B & Dark Candi Syrup, so I'm shooting for sort of a hoppy Belgian Amber.

Does anyone have any tips for brewing hoppy Belgian ales (like a Belgian IPA, for example)? I'm thinking I should shoot for the low 60's for a fermentation temp to keep the yeast character subdued. I'm also planning on keeping most of the IBU's as FWH and late additions to keep the bitterness under control. The Unibroue yeast has such a dry finish that I don't think a really sharp bitterness would work too well.

Here's my first pass at a recipe. Comments/suggestions are always appreciated.

Title: Belgian Hoppy Amber

Brew Method: BIAB
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 3 gallons
Boil Size: 3.5 gallons
Efficiency: 80%

STATS:
Original Gravity: 1.051
IBU (tinseth): 43.37
SRM (morey): 16.55

FERMENTABLES:
4 lb - Pale Ale (78.7%)
0.5 lb - Dark Munich (9.8%)
0.33 lb - Belgian Candi Syrup D-180 (late addition)  (6.5%)
0.25 lb - Special B (4.9%)

HOPS:
0.5 oz - Motueka (AA 7.4), Type: Pellet, Use: First Wort
0.35 oz - Motueka (AA 7.4) for 60 min, Type: Pellet, Use: Boil
0.25 oz - Motueka (AA 7.4) for 15 min, Type: Pellet, Use: Boil
0.2 oz - Caliente (AA 15.3) for 5 min, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Boil
0.5 oz - Caliente (AA 15.3) for 0 min, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Boil
1 oz - Caliente (AA 15.3) for 7 days, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Dry Hop
0.5 oz - Motueka (AA 7.4) for 7 days, Type: Pellet, Use: Dry Hop

MASH STEPS:
1) Infusion, Temp: 160 F, Time: 60 min, Amount: 18 qt, Sacc Rest

YEAST:
Wyeast - Canadian/Belgian Ale 3864

NOTES:
Rack to fermenter through Caliente hopback.

Ferment low 60's. Rack to secondary for dry-hopping.

snowtiger87:
Your recipe looks interesting.

I haven't had very much luck with that yeast in the past. It did not want to finish.

erockrph:
I thought I'd report back with some tasting notes on this beer. I tweaked the recipe a bit from what I originally planned (mostly to add some Centennial). I was calling this a "Belgian Amber" until I tasted it. It is really more of a small, hoppy dubbel, so I've started calling it "1.6".

Simply put, this is one of the best-smelling beers I've ever brewed. I hesitate to serve Belgian beer to my non-beer geek friends, but I brought a few beers to a friend's house for dinner a few days ago. I poured glasses of this for my friends, then turned around to pour my own. When I turned around everyone had their noses buried in their glasses saying "Wow!". I knew I had a winner at that point.

The aroma is very complex with red plums and cinnamon being the most dominant notes. I also pick up sweet cherries, some doughy malt and a hint of banana. As the beer warms up, floral notes from the Centennial start to open up in the nose as well. If you've ever had a beer from Unibroue, their house yeast aroma is unmistakeable here.

The flavor is led by sweet spice that moves to a malty breadiness. Bitterness is firm, but smooth (somewhere in the ballpark of an APA to my palate). There is a touch of citrus and resinous hops, but the hops pretty much stay out of the way of the cinnamon/cardamom spiciness. There is also some plummy notes that pair up with the sweet spices very well. The finish has doughy malt and some banana ester notes paired with faint hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is light and easy-drinking without being thin or watery. I mashed a little higher (156), to make sure it didn't end up too thin. It finished right at 1.010, so it worked out well. I ended up right where I wanted for a flavorful Belgian beer that I can drink more than one or two of in a session.

It's a shame that the Unibroue yeast isn't available year-round through Wyeast, because I would definitely brew this beer a few times a year. I think the Abby II (WY1762) would work well in this beer, too - I'll probably give that a try next time. I'm really happy with how well this recipe translated from concept to the finished product. I basically tasted a test brew using Caliente and decided I wanted to take every "plummy" ingredient I could think of and put them together. For the next rebrew, I might roll back the IBU's back a hair (maybe to 30ish), but otherwise this recipe is destined to be one of my regular house brews.


--- Quote ---HOME BREW RECIPE:
Title: 1.6

Brew Method: BIAB
Style Name: American Amber Ale
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 3 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 3.5 gallons
Efficiency: 80% (brew house)

STATS:
Original Gravity: 1.051
Final Gravity: 1.010
IBU (tinseth): 36.89

FERMENTABLES:
4 lb - Belgian - Pale Ale (78.7%)
0.5 lb - German - Munich Light (9.8%)
0.33 lb - Belgian Candi Syrup - D180 - (late addition)  (6.5%)
0.25 lb - Belgian - Special B (4.9%)

HOPS:
0.4 oz - Centennial, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: First Wort (AA 10.2)
0.25 oz - Motueka for 15 min, Type: Pellet, Use: Boil (AA 7.2)
0.25 oz - Centennial for 10 min, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Boil (AA 10.2)
0.5 oz - Caliente for 5 min, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Boil (AA 15.3)
0.5 oz - Caliente for 0 min, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Boil (AA 15.3)
1 oz - Caliente for 7 days, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Dry Hop (AA 15.3)
0.33 oz - Centennial for 7 days, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Dry Hop (AA 10.2)
0.33 oz - Motueka for 7 days, Type: Pellet, Use: Dry Hop (AA 7.4)

MASH STEPS:
1) Infusion, Temp: 156 F, Time: 60 min, Amount: 18 qt, Sacc Rest

YEAST:
Wyeast 3864 - Canadian/Belgian Ale
Fermented at 62-64F

NOTES:
Rack to fermenter through Caliente hopback.

--- End quote ---

dannyjed:
That sounds very tasty.  I think I might need to make a hoppy Belgian soon.

reverseapachemaster:
Isn't the Unibroue strain available for bottle harvest out of the Unibroue beers? Or is there a reason why you couldn't bottle harvest back out of your bottles and keep some slurry in the fridge?

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