Sunday, January 21, 2007

Brew #42: Belgian Dark Strong Ale

The last beer of the day was a strong Belgian ale. I'm a bit excited about this one as it is the biggest beer I've ever made. When it is done it should have reached 11% abv (depending on how it attenuates). That's quite something, but there's not just alcohol. It will be a complex beer with significant esters and a rich sugary malt complexity. I hope. It should end up in the vicinity of the classics Westvleteren Abt 12 and St. Bernardus Abt 12.

The malt bill is quite simple, but has been extended by dark liquid candi sugar and simple sugars. The candi sugar should add complex sugars and caramel, while the simple sugars will dry it out preventing it from being cloyingly sweet. The recipe should be quite traditional -- and straightforward.

I used a big yeast starter so it should get off to a good start, but 11% is a lot of sugar and alcohol, so it puts a big burden on the yeast. It is hard to survive in such an environment. Having thought this through a little I decided to leave out the simple sugars (~1100g). This to make it a little easier for the yeast in the beginning. The plan is to add the remaining sugars after three days when the yeast have multiplied and adjusted to the environment. This particular yeast strain is a sturdy one and known to ferment up to 15% abv.

The batch was brewed 2007-01-21.

Belgian Dark Strong Ale
All grain, batch sparge
38 EBC (Brown)
29 IBU
6500g Pale malt
1000g Pilsener malt
500g Caramünich
700g Liquid dark candi sugar
575g Demerara sugar
225g Dextrose (aka glucose)
300g Dry light malt extract
64C, 60 min
76C, 10 min (mashout)
66% efficiency
50g Northern Brewer 10.0%, 60 min
50g Tettnanger pellets 3.8%, 15 min
30g Tettnanger pellets 3.8%, 1 min
White Labs WLP 530 Abbey Ale, 2 vials, best before 2007-03-03, 3.0 liter starter
90 min
OG: 1.097 FG: 1.016 (estimated)


Travis said...

Wow, that sounds like a great brew!

I have been happy with every brew I added the dark candy. I never used the liquid though.

The rock candy usually scores my brewpot.

Good luck with that one.

grove said...

Thanks. I'm looking forward seeing how it ends up, but I suspect that it'll need to be lagered for a while before it peaks.

I've used the liquid candy sugar once before (in a Belgian Amber) and find it to give a different kind of flavour than dark candy rocks. It's quite bit more caramelly and sweeter. I guess this depends on what kind of candy sugar rocks it is. The darker varieties does taste a lot more than the white ones (as they are just plain sugar).

grove said...

Travis, what has happened to your blog? I get a DNS error message when accessing it:
I'm sure you're aware of this already. :)