Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Spruced Up Belgian Quad

Welp...I decided--more or less--that I was going to start brewing 1 gallon all grain batches.  I figure that it is easier--less water and weight, even if not less actual work and time--and if I do it right I can get a pipeline of a gallon every week or so.  Plus getting experience with my system and recipe creation, which is even more important.  Weekish for fermentation, week for secondary/cold crashing/dry hopping....and a month or so for bottle conditioning.  Oh well.

Anyways, I brewed the first one today.  I originally put together the (unmodified) grain bill as a Belgian IPA, after trying the Stone Brewing 08-08-08 Encore (which I have succeeded in culturing yeast from, btw.  But haven't tested it yet, and don't know what variety it is.).  Well....then it got cold out, and I got thinking that maybe a strong dark ale would be better.  This was /after/ buying the original grain bill, of course.
I still plan to make the Bel IPA soon, mind.  

However, I had homemade candi syrup in the freezer (well, outside, which is nearly the same thing), and happily found a bag of special B I picked up because I love it so, so I could add a couple more oz of that to the recipe.  In addition, I was reading about the use of spruce tips in brewing (courtesy of one of my Homebrewing groups) and had some of those in the freezer.  And so, the recipe was born.  I also added the 2 oz of rolled oats for body and head.

Now, spruce tips are an ingredient I haven't used much--however, the best ones will be harvested in the spring.  Different trees, light conditions, levels of development, etcetera will give slightly different flavour.  But partially because of this, you cannot measure them by weight--it will vary according to humidity.  You also can't tell how much will be enough or too much because the flavour levels vary as well.  That being said, most recipes seem to agree that 1/2 cup per gallon is fairly safe--I suspect that with the tips I used, they won't be that noticeable.
As is my wont, I like to add key flavour ingredients--chocolate, pumpkin....mushrooms--at multiple points during the brewing process to get a wider variety of flavours.  However, people that have tested them seem to (mostly) agree that there isn't much point in adding them during the last 20 minutes or so of the boil.

Terrible picture, I know.  But it gets close to the rich, dark brown.

So without further ado, the recipe.

Spruce Strong Dark Ale

2.25 lb Belgian pilsner

6oz Munich 40L

5oz Special B

1 oz acid malt

2oz flaked oats

Candi syrup to bring the OG to 1.080

22IBUStyrian Goldings, whole hops (flame in)

0.5 cup (1.5oz) spruce tips (0.5 oz in the mash.  1/2 at 90 min, ½ from 40-20 min)

Westmalle yeast (bottle culture from the Westmalle dubble)

Mash in at 148-150.  I am aiming for the upper range of beta amylase, to allow for some body, but not too much.  Bear in mind that the dark candi syrup isn't completely fermentable.

2 gallons 150 water.  Mashed in at 144, managed to raise the temp to 155.  Added 0.5oz spruce tips to the mash.  150 at 45min.  The mash was a bit over an hour in length--closer to 75 minutes.  I--for the first time--actually did an iodine test (normally, I don't have the stuff available).  Next time I'll have to do one towards the beginning of the mash as a control.

1.032 preboil (1.051 temp adjusted for 150 degrees).  Hops calculated at 3.6, down from 3.9 after 60 days in freezer. 

Ended up with about 5/8 gallon after boil.  Added some candi syrup (didn’t measure) and water.  1.092 at 146 degrees (1.111 corrected).
11-23-15; Started, OG 1.111.  75%ish efficiency?  Can't tell because I didn't measure the amount of syrup at all--really should have checked before, since I added the acid malt in the hopes it would lower the ph just enough to get it in the zone for best efficiency.  Next time, then.
I pitched a small amount of the yeast starter (2 tbsp) or so into the 100 degree wort, just because.  Once it is cool, I'll add quite a bit more--this is mainly because my starter is not ready; I wasn't expecting such a high OG. 
I am out of airlocks right now, so this will be an open (foil covered, that is) fermentation. 

12-29-15; SG currently at 1.061--about halfway fermented.

I used the Following Calculators:

The Iodine test for starch conversion.  Next time I brew, I'll start doing tests every 10 minutes or so, just out of curiosity.
The bread is there as a control, to make sure that the test was working.

9-10-16; SG is 1.050...far too sweet, and I don't think it will ever go further.  However, the flavour isn't bad, very caramel, and I may blend it into another dark beer.

© John Frey, 2015. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material.  The recipes, photographs and other contents therein may not be used for any commercial purposes.

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