Friday, 28 October 2011

Belgian Basics

I've been wanting to do this for a bit....however, since winter is just around the corner, I knew it was time to wheel out something a bit darker and, well, warming.

Scouting around Hopville, and looking out a few recipes, along with a bit of inspiration from a few beers brought back to me from Bruges, I wondered if something Belgian wasn't in order. I came up with this. The recipe was modified somewhat from a basic dark abbey beer I had found. The only tweak here is that their recipe suggested almost 40% Belgian Aromatic Malt. reading elsewhere that you should NEVER use more than 10% of that malt in a beer I rebalanced with Maris Otter. Apparently, it's SO malty that many writers took the view that more than 10% would be undrinkable. Given what I have seen some people drink, I am not sure such a beer exists. Anyway, having tasted the malt, it certainly has a strong malt taste (quite nice out of the packet :-}), so I probably did right.

My other discover this brew was this graph, which tries to explain the balance of tastes in relation to the BU:GU ratio (bitterness units to gravity units)....kind of a hops vs malt graph. Very useful, and my ratio for this beer is about 0.65...suggesting hoppiness, and having tasting it after 4 days, it's still very hoppy (there were lots of hops added to balance the large grain bill). Mind you, Hopville calculates IBUs of 56, the BIAB Calculator Worksheet gives me 34, and Beersmith gives me 40!! So I could range from slightly malty, through well balanced, to extra hoppy!!!! Of course, there is a long way to go with this beer, it needs to ferement out, and then bottle mature for a good period - it is supposed to get over 9%

More grief on the boil....this bloody element thing is killing me. The whole brew took 2 hours longer than I think it should have done. I have tried all the tricks. All I think I can do now is buy two new elements (one to wash, one to wear!!), replace the element after each brew, and put the old element in some descaler for an hour and store!!

Used an old Trappist yeast from White Labs. Looks great! Lag time was a bit longer than usual, but once it got going, it really got going (see pic). Have given it a stir and thrown in some yeast nutrient, and it is still bubbling away feverishly. Have to say there does seem to be an awful lot of debris in the beer, but it does have another week or so to ferment out.

Elsewhere, all is disaster!! The Lovely golden IPA had basically deposited itself onto the carpet....I think it has just recovered, hopefully when the heating comes on it will draw the last bit of moisture out. The mild? Well, I'm going to have to chuck it. Not sure what happened, but I suspect I left it fermenting too long. Therefore, every bottle has that twang of off beer, and it has really had trouble clearing. I wonder if this was because it never really got boiling at the end of the brew, and the Irish moss I put into fine never got to work. This time around, I've used a Whirlfloc tablet, just in case. Shame really, tasted OK (outside of the 'off-ness'), just something to chalk up to experience...I'm really hoping this beer finishes by the middle of next week, so I can bottle it before going away!

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