AG#18 – Little Divil Belgian Blond

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I hadn’t originally planned on doing a light-coloured beer with the WLP500 I have, but I was impressed with the clean flavours I got in my patersbier, DSM/sulphur aroma aside. I want to do something really simple here. A simple grain bill of pilsner malt and wheat malt, and some noble hops for bittering. I might also include a small charge of Saaz for flavour. Jamil’s tripel recipe uses “aromatic” malt which I’m assured is the American equivalent of the abbey malt we get here. So I’ll include a small amount of this to give the beer some extra complexity. Style-wise, I’m going for something between a tripel and a Belgian golden strong ale. There’s a fair amount of simple sugar in my recipe, so I should end up with a beer that is quite dry and drinkable. With a bit of luck it will end up something like Duvel, without the huge alcohol content. Depending on the fermentation temperature, it might even end up rather saison-like.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 27.90 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.40 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.068 SG
Estimated Color: 10.3 EBC
Estimated IBU: 28.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 73.0 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients

5.500 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (3.9 EBC), 84.6 %
0.300 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC), 4.6 %
0.200 kg Aromatic Malt (51.2 EBC), 3.1 %
33 g Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 25.5 IBUs
25 g Saaz [4.80 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 3.4 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
0.550 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose) [Boil for 10 min], 7.7 %
10.00 g Coriander Seed (Boil 5.0 mins)
1.0 pkg Trappist Ale (White Labs #WLP500) (300ml of slurry from Hard Rain Belgian Dubbel)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 6.500 kg
Mash In           Add 16.80 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 17.61l) of 77.0 C water

Mash Day 03/08/2014 – Mashed at around 65.5C-65.9C. Strike temperature of 71.8C. Beautifully pale wort.

Brew Day 04/08/2014 – Made some last minute adjustments with a little extra corn sugar and a little less coriander seed. Had to cycle one element on and off in order to get a decent rolling boil. But the boil was very vigorous and I got a great boil-off. Got a slightly low OG but I got more volume into the FV than expected – 1.066-1.088. I had absolutely no problems with running off from the boiler. One reason was that I was using plenty of leaf hops. Another might have been because I did the runoff really slowly, only opening the tap a third of the way.

05/08/2014 – Fermentation 24 hours later is going like a machine gun! Never seen a fermentation as strong as this.

11/08/2014 – Still getting bubbles from the airlock. Beer looks great. Will move to a colder room in a couple of days and let it clear for a week or two before bottling.

24/08/2014 – Batch primed with 181g of corn sugar (17.5 litres @ 3.5 vol). 15 x 500ml bottles, 12 x 750ml bottles. Got slightly less volume into bottles than expected, which means the carbonation will be a little livelier. But at 3.5 vol, I had a little wiggle-room on this. Very pleased with the flavour, bags of Belgian fruit. The FG reading a lot lower than I was expecting at 1.006! Surely that can’t be right??

31/08/2014 – Had a little taste of the residual beer in the flask containing the WLP500 slurry. Very promising, great Belgian flavour. Can’t wait to taste the real thing when it’s carbonated and has dried out. I think it could be a good example of both a tripel and a Belgian blonde.

03/10/2014 – Just over 5 weeks old and tasting very nice indeed. Great head formation with respectable retention. Definitely within the boundaries of a “Belgian Blonde”, but not sure if it would pass muster as a tripel. The alcohol is not that prominent, but there’s quite kick in it. Quite sweet, but maybe it will dry out further as it conditions. Tiny bit of sulphur on the nose, and a bit more banana in the flavour than I want, but these too should dissipate over time. Will definitely do this again. Bit of Carapils the next time, to help get that thick, billowing head. Could use a little extra bitterness too.

09/10/2014 – Can’t believe how good this is tasting. Opened a 750ml bottle which had only been in the fridge for less than an hour. Head formation was a little loose and short-lived as a result, but still not bad. Fantastic Belgian fruit flavours. Sweet pilsner malt character. Balanced alcohol flavour. But the real winning component of the flavour is the toasty, biscuity character. Not sure whether this is from the base malt or the abbey malt. Big fruit flavours, and the coriander peeks through nicely.

10/12/2014 – I have a good few bottles of this left. It’s still really good – a bit of aging has not harmed it at all. Will definitely do this recipe again.

02/01/2015 – I’m finally at the end of this batch and it’s holding up fantastically well. Crisp, but a nice residual sweetness from the pilsner malt. As far as improvements go, I think next time there should be less bitterness and probably less coriander as the fruitiness is a little overwhelming.

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