Archive for September, 2015

AG#44 – Little Divil Belgian Blond


I really enjoyed every bottles of this beer the last time I made it. It’s strong, but still very drinkable. It’s a very simple recipe, with the coriander adding a very nice citrus and spice note to the Belgian yeast. A good percentage of wheat malt partnered with some high carbonation gives the beer a great head. Given that it’s very strong, I’m planning on bottling as much as I can into 330ml bottles. I’m also planning on doing a “cork and cage” presentation on a few bottles, to test out the technique.

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: 27.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 73.0 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes


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 %
20 g Styrian Goldings [3.00 %] – Boil 60.0, 8.6 IBUs
19 g East Kent Goldings [5.70 %] – Boil 60.0, 15.5 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
25 g Saaz [4.80 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 3.4 IBUs
0.500 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)
Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 6.500 kg
Mash In Add 16.80 l of water at 71.2 C 65.0 C 60 min

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

25/09/2015 Mash Day – After all the disasters I’ve had lately, I was watching every step of this process like a hawk. Mashed at around 66C. The run off was quite slow, but I got a nice light coloured wort.
26/09/2015 Brew Day – Early rise to kick off the boil. Lots of hot break, but I only skimmed off a little of the darker stuff before it came to the boil. No boil overs, thankfully, because I was watching the boiler like a hawk for 90 mins. Got a bit more cold break into the fermenter than I wanted. Pitched about 400ml of slurry from the Bastogne Pale Ale. I set the fermenter in the cold room. Fermentation still not started by night time, so I moved the fermenter into the kitchen.
27/09/2015 – Fermentation under way when I got up this morning. About 1cm of kreusen. However, I could see the kreusen had double after a couple of hours. Went out for the day and when I came back I could see the kreusen had hit the lid and then died down considerably.
28/09/2015 – Fermentation still going strong.
29/09/2015 – The airlock is still pretty active, particularly when the heating is on in the kitchen. I lifted the lid to see what was happening. The kreusen has fallen completely, but there’s still very active fizzing going on at the surface of the beer. I plan on giving this 2 weeks in total to finish fermenting, then I’ll move the fermenter somewhere cool

10/10/2015 – Took a sample from the fermenter. First taste was pretty alcoholic and very hazy. A bit alarming. The gravity reading was even more alarming at 1.006! I was thinking something had gone wrong with the fermentation until I checked the recipe notes of the last brew of this beer. I was pleased to see that I got the same FG that time too. Will leave another week or so in the fermenter before bottling.

18/10/2015 – Followed the same bottling regimen that I used the last time I brewed this beer. Batch primed with 181g of corn sugar (17.5 litres @ 3.5 vol). 15 x 500ml bottles, 12 x 750ml bottles. 2 of the 750ml bottles are ex-Champagne bottled which I corked and caged. Hopefully the corks stay where they’re meant to be and there’s no beer fountains!

23/11/2015 – A bit disappointed with the first opening of this beer. Although it tastes really nice already, the head retention is zero. My notes from the last brew of this recipe show that it was already holding a good head at this stage. Will give it another 2 weeks before opening another 330ml bottle. Very pleased with the flavour and aroma though.

24/11/2015 – So much for waiting two weeks! I was interested to see if the head retention problem is there in a different bottle, poured into a different glass. Head is marginally better, less than a centimetre a few minutes after pouring. Great honey-like flavours, candy like sweetness. Dry finisg with light body. Pear drops and bubblegum in the flavour. Alcohol needs to mellow for another month. Hopefully in that time, the bubbles will reduce in size and the head will become tighter and more mousse-like.

16/12/2015 – The head has improved quite a bit, but I’m picking up some acetone in the flavour, which may have been caused by the beer I drank before this one, which was the amber saison.

24/03/2015 – I opened one of the corked champagne bottles at a meet. I discovered that the cages are prone to over-tightening when I was bottling the beer. Tonight I discovered that a slight tip off the cage can break it, and loosen the cork. Thankfully the cork only came out partially. The carbonation is pretty spritzy. I’m happy with the cork and cage packaging, a technique that will come in handy when it’s time to bottle some sour and funky beers. The beer itself is a bit of a loss. But it’s a learning experience. I re-pitched yeast from a fermentation that was stressed, and I won’t be doing this again.

AG#43 – Bastogne Belgian Pale Ale

Franciscan Well IPA

The last time I did a Belgian Pale Ale was partial mash recipe, and although I recall it was drinkable, I never bowled me over. I suspect that I’m more a fan of pale Belgian beers, than dark ones. This brew is an attempt to make a darker Belgian beer that I actually enjoy, and to make a Belgian beer that is relatively low in alcohol. I also want to grow up yeast to do my Little Divil Belgian Blonde.

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: 1.054 SG
Estimated Color: 16.0 EBC
Estimated IBU: 25.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.1 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes


4.444 kg Bohemian Pilsner Malt, Weyermann (4.0 EB Grain 1 80.0 %
0.444 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC) Grain 2 8.0 %
0.222 kg Biscuit Malt (45.3 EBC) Grain 3 4.0 %
0.222 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (118.2 EBC) Grain 4 4.0 %
0.222 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC) Grain 5 4.0 %
19 g East Kent Goldings [5.70 %] – Boil 60.0 Hop 6 15.8 IBUs
18 g Styrian Goldings [3.00 %] – Boil 60.0 mi Hop 7 7.9 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 8 –
15 g Saaz [3.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 9 1.3 IBUs
1.0 pkg Trappist Ale (White Labs #WLP500) [35.49 Yeast 10 –
Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.555 kg

Mash In Add 15.55 l of water at 74.6 C 68.0 C 60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 18.41l) of 77.0 C water

24/09/2015 – Bottled with 115g glucose (17.5 litres at 2.5 vol). Got 12 x 750ml and 16 x 500ml bottles.

12/11/2015 – Quite a few bottles of this sampled now. I’m reasonably pleased with it. I think the bitterness is a little overwhelming. Some caramel sweetness there to balance some of that bitterness. Got a bit of a musty/sweaty flavour when I sampled it at a recent meet, but that could be down to the beer I’d had immediately before it. I’m not sure how I would improve this. More character malts like munich or vienna perhaps.

17/12/2015 – This scored extremely poorly at a recent pre-competition meet, but the bottle I’m tasting right now is pretty decent.

29/09/2015 – I got a shock this evening to see kreusen around the neck of one of the bottles I left on the kitchen counter. It looked pretty dense and I immediately thought of the film yeast I saw before I bottled the beer. I checked the rest of the bottles and they were all the same. I panicked and opened a bottle which tasted just fine. Pretty good actually, for a beer that’s only been bottled for 5 days. The colour is a touch lighter than I wanted, but I think it will condition into a very nice beer, provided it isn’t infected. I did some searching on the web and it seems a common enough issue, but a lot of people say it can accompany a bacterial infection. But I’m hoping it’s just the re-fermentation in the bottle. The beer was extremely clear when I bottled it, so maybe the yeast had to grow up a little before it could complete the job? Only time will tell, but I’m now a little more worried about the Belgian blond that I am currently fermenting with the same yeast cake.

02/02/2016 – If there are off flavours in this beer, I was having a little trouble finding them this evening. Flavour is pretty clean, and I finished every drop. Lovely yeast character,and nice dry finish.

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