Author Topic: Belgian Dark Strong Ale  (Read 635 times)

Offline Beau Diddly

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Belgian Dark Strong Ale
« on: April 30, 2017, 05:13:56 PM »
I'm a new brewer and new to the forum.  I've joined a local club and we're having a club brew day (National Brew Day) and I'm attempting all-grain for the first time.  I'll have some experience help to provide guidance.

I will attempt a Belgian Dark Strong Ale (queen b****) and it calls for Belgian pale malt (2 row, 3.0 SRM).  However, my local shops don't carry this grain.  They carry a pale malt and said its close enough.  If I'm brewing 11 gal, the words "close enough" gives me a bit of concern.  As a new brewer, am I being too picky or is "close enough" sufficient?  Looking forward, is there a rule of thumb on how much I should deviate from a grain bill?

Big Monk

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Re: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2017, 05:26:37 PM »
Belgian Pale Ale, German Pale Ale, Belgian Pils, German Pils, etc. should all do well in a recipe for a dark strong.


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Offline denny

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Re: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2017, 05:27:09 PM »
I'm a new brewer and new to the forum.  I've joined a local club and we're having a club brew day (National Brew Day) and I'm attempting all-grain for the first time.  I'll have some experience help to provide guidance.

I will attempt a Belgian Dark Strong Ale (queen b****) and it calls for Belgian pale malt (2 row, 3.0 SRM).  However, my local shops don't carry this grain.  They carry a pale malt and said its close enough.  If I'm brewing 11 gal, the words "close enough" gives me a bit of concern.  As a new brewer, am I being too picky or is "close enough" sufficient?  Looking forward, is there a rule of thumb on how much I should deviate from a grain bill?

Yep, close enough.  I doubt you'll be able to tell the difference.  While there is a slight difference in the same type of malt from maltster to maltster, it's pretty small.  Don't sweat it.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2017, 06:02:30 PM »
Agreed with all the above. No worries. Much more important here to hold fermentation temps down for the first few days, so that you don't end up with a fuselly banana bomb.  I'd try to hold 63F-ish for 3 or 4 days before letting temp raise up to 68-70F for the duration.
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Offline brewsumore

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Re: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2017, 09:03:31 PM »
Agreed with all the above. No worries. Much more important here to hold fermentation temps down for the first few days, so that you don't end up with a fuselly banana bomb.  I'd try to hold 63F-ish for 3 or 4 days before letting temp raise up to 68-70F for the duration.

+1  Good luck with your BDS!  On basic principles, but also be aware that many of the Belgian ale yeasts can become very active and therefore generate krauesen and heat very early in the ferment if the yeast is pitched too warm.  The term "explosive" has been oft used to describe some Belgian ale yeasts.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2017, 09:07:43 PM by brewsumore »

Offline denny

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Re: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2017, 10:11:12 PM »
Agreed with all the above. No worries. Much more important here to hold fermentation temps down for the first few days, so that you don't end up with a fuselly banana bomb.  I'd try to hold 63F-ish for 3 or 4 days before letting temp raise up to 68-70F for the duration.

+1  Good luck with your BDS!  On basic principles, but also be aware that many of the Belgian ale yeasts can become very active and therefore generate krauesen and heat very early in the ferment if the yeast is pitched too warm.  The term "explosive" has been oft used to describe some Belgian ale yeasts.

Good point!  Somehow a myth that Belgian styles like hot fermentation developed.  Anyone who's done that can attest to it not being a great idea.  I like to pitch about 63F and let it warm after a few days.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline Phil_M

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Re: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2017, 10:22:37 PM »
Agreed with all the above. No worries. Much more important here to hold fermentation temps down for the first few days, so that you don't end up with a fuselly banana bomb.  I'd try to hold 63F-ish for 3 or 4 days before letting temp raise up to 68-70F for the duration.

+1  Good luck with your BDS!  On basic principles, but also be aware that many of the Belgian ale yeasts can become very active and therefore generate krauesen and heat very early in the ferment if the yeast is pitched too warm.  The term "explosive" has been oft used to describe some Belgian ale yeasts.

Good point!  Somehow a myth that Belgian styles like hot fermentation developed.  Anyone who's done that can attest to it not being a great idea.  I like to pitch about 63F and let it warm after a few days.

Perhaps because Chimay ferments that warm, and says so on their website? Granted, as with low oxygen techniques, adaptions may have to be made for home-brew scale brewing...and of course Chimay is famed for their yeast knowledge.

http://chimay.com/us/bieres/#acceptLicense
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Big Monk

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Belgian Dark Strong Ale
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2017, 10:40:27 PM »
Agreed with all the above. No worries. Much more important here to hold fermentation temps down for the first few days, so that you don't end up with a fuselly banana bomb.  I'd try to hold 63F-ish for 3 or 4 days before letting temp raise up to 68-70F for the duration.

+1  Good luck with your BDS!  On basic principles, but also be aware that many of the Belgian ale yeasts can become very active and therefore generate krauesen and heat very early in the ferment if the yeast is pitched too warm.  The term "explosive" has been oft used to describe some Belgian ale yeasts.

Good point!  Somehow a myth that Belgian styles like hot fermentation developed.  Anyone who's done that can attest to it not being a great idea.  I like to pitch about 63F and let it warm after a few days.

Not a myth so much as variance in scale between fermenter size of home brewers and someone like Chimay.

They do ferment warmer and produce those wonderful, world famous beers. You have to be careful given the typical homebrewer fermentor when trying to do the same.

This is one of those cases where there ARE actually huge differences between large scale and small scale brewing.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2017, 11:22:26 PM by Big Monk »

Big Monk

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Re: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2017, 12:20:50 AM »
Agreed with all the above. No worries. Much more important here to hold fermentation temps down for the first few days, so that you don't end up with a fuselly banana bomb.  I'd try to hold 63F-ish for 3 or 4 days before letting temp raise up to 68-70F for the duration.

+1  Good luck with your BDS!  On basic principles, but also be aware that many of the Belgian ale yeasts can become very active and therefore generate krauesen and heat very early in the ferment if the yeast is pitched too warm.  The term "explosive" has been oft used to describe some Belgian ale yeasts.

Good point!  Somehow a myth that Belgian styles like hot fermentation developed.  Anyone who's done that can attest to it not being a great idea.  I like to pitch about 63F and let it warm after a few days.

Perhaps because Chimay ferments that warm, and says so on their website? Granted, as with low oxygen techniques, adaptions may have to be made for home-brew scale brewing...and of course Chimay is famed for their yeast knowledge.

http://chimay.com/us/bieres/#acceptLicense

The misconception about "Belgian" (in quotes here because it can mean so many things) beer fermentation temperature is most certainly due to a misunderstanding about the bigger picture of large scale fermentation.

They can get away with higher temperature because of fermenter size and geometry, as well as the selection of their yeast back to the isolate by Father Thomas.

Offline Phil_M

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Re: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2017, 12:59:05 AM »
True. I have had good results using 3724 at elevated temperatures, and have so far always avoided the dreaded "stall" of that yeast.

But I digress. The point is the idea of elevated temps for Belgian Dark Strong ale came about because that's how it's actually done, but this isn't appropriate (for now) at the home brew scale.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline Beau Diddly

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Re: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2017, 03:20:15 AM »
Thank you for all of the replies, its helpful.  As long as we're getting slightly OT, I'll continue that direction.

This recipe calls for primary fermentation of 3 days (68*), secondary ferm of 10 days (75*), and tertiary ferm of 5 days (32*).  Since the batch size is 11 gal, I'm going to divide it among a couple of carboys and I will use a bourbon soaked stave in one and a vanilla vodka soaked stave in another.  The staves are white oak (oddly enough called "American oak") and I've charred and soaked the staves for about a week.  Given the holes I've put in the 9" staves, there's plenty of surface area.  At what point in the aging process should I introduce the wood and for how long? 

Offline brewsumore

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Re: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2017, 03:50:41 AM »
If it was me I'd ferment primary and let the beer tell me when it is fully fermented, typically at least 2 weeks for a BDS.  Then let it sit another week in primary for the yeast to clean up any remaining fermentables, ramped back down to around 64 - 66F.  Then, if kegging go to keg and purge of 02, after adding the oak (first steamed or soaked-in-preferred-liquor-or-Everclear) in a sanitized nylon bag that can be removed when at the right level of oak -- typically ~7 days for chips.  I prefer shavings/chips to reduce oaking time.  If you will be bottling, you could go to secondary FULL carboy after the 3 weeks mentioned above, including the oak, again recommending chips instead of stave since you'll want to keep the beer around cellar temp or at least <70F until the oak incorporates, and then get it bottled.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2017, 03:53:14 AM by brewsumore »