Author Topic: Poured out that old Belgian  (Read 2225 times)

Online euge

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Poured out that old Belgian
« on: July 20, 2011, 11:27:01 PM »
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
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Poured out that old Belgian
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2011, 05:31:37 AM »
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?
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline uthristy

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Re: Poured out that old Belgian
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2011, 05:50:17 AM »
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.

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Poured out that old Belgian
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2011, 08:38:19 AM »
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...
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline denny

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Re: Poured out that old Belgian
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2011, 09:40:18 AM »
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.
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Poured out that old Belgian
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2011, 10:10:25 AM »
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.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline udubdawg

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Re: Poured out that old Belgian
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2011, 10:22:50 AM »
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

Offline narcout

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Re: Poured out that old Belgian
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2011, 10:23:20 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.

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).

Offline richardt

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Re: Poured out that old Belgian
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2011, 10:39:51 AM »
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.

Offline ukolowiczd

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Re: Poured out that old Belgian
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2011, 10:48:22 AM »
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.

Online euge

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Re: Poured out that old Belgian
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2011, 11:11:00 AM »
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
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline oscarvan

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Re: Poured out that old Belgian
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2011, 11:57:01 AM »
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.
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I brew WITH style..... not necessarily TO style.....

Offline narcout

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Re: Poured out that old Belgian
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2011, 12:15:33 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.

« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 12:17:36 PM by narcout »

Offline scooter2374

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Re: Poured out that old Belgian
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2011, 12:46:12 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.
AHA member since '10

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Poured out that old Belgian
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2011, 01:05:26 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.
Lennie
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