Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wedding Belgian Single Test #1

As I talked about in my previous post, I'm working on nailing down a recipe to serve at my wedding next year. I think Belgian style ales are the best for celebrations being they're relatively dry, highly carbonated, and fruity/spicy. Granted not all Belgians fall under that description, but the pale styles generally do. I initially wanted to make something pretty high in abv (a la a tripel), but was convinced to go lower. The other suggestion I had was to use some honey and flowers. I really wanted to use pink peppercorns since I love the flavor and their fruitiness. In addition, I thought lemongrass would be a great complement. However, this morning I tried two grocery stores and found no lemongrass. I did find both hibiscus and chamomille. I thought, why not; and they'll both work well with the peppercorns. (their freshness is a bit suspect though)
The recipe itself is very simple. Pilsner malt, flaked wheat, couple hop additions (just what I had on hand), and 3787, my favorite Belgian yeast from Westmalle. The honey I have decided to add after primary has slowed down to ensure good florals are saved. I'll likely add this at about day 3. I also decided to order some Five Star 5.2 pH Stabilizer. I am hoping it helps my efficiency just a bit and if not, it's just a couple bucks. This should hopefully turn out well, but I'm happy to do another rebrew if necessary; it has to be a perfect beer!
Batch Size: 5.40 gal
Boil Size: 6.34 gal
Estimated OG: 1.047 SG
Estimated Color: 3.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 19.9 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 76.00 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Amount Item Type % or IBU
6.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM) Grain 66.67 %
2.00 lb Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 22.22 %
1.00 oz Saaz [4.00 %] (75 min) Hops 15.6 IBU
1.00 oz Styrian Goldings [3.50 %] (10 min) Hops 4.7 IBU
1.00 lb Honey (1.0 SRM) Sugar 11.11 %
1 Pkgs Trappist High Gravity (Wyeast Labs #3787) Yeast-Wheat

Brewed on a sunny, muggy morning. No wind to deal with. At flameout, I added 6gm chamomile, 10gm hibiscus and 12gm pink peppercorns. Excited to see my numbers when I pulled my sample; 76% efficiency! Granted I used to get this consistently a year ago, but it's been a while since I've touched it. The effective number is 1.041 now, but with the addition of 1# of honey in a couple days will push it to 1.047 which I think is perfect. Flavor of wort was very strong on the chamomile, while the rest quite subdued. I'll see how things go fermentation wise, and adjust if necessary. I made a .5L starter this morning with a very happy pack of fresh 3787. Ferment will start at about 66 and will be raised to the 70s in a couple days.
6/5/10: Pulled first sample about ready to keg. All signs of fermentation are definitely over and ambient temp has gotten up to about 73. Gravity reached 1.010, at 78% attenuation and 4.8% abv. Not as dry as I was looking forward to, but that can be tweaked in the next batch. Flavors are really nice and the spicing is subtle and balanced. Can't wait to see how this is once chilled and carbonated.


  1. how did it taste after carbonated? What was the carbonation level you used?

    I'm looking for some good creative recipies

  2. I see you are trying to improve your efficiency with the 5.2 stabilizer. Have you looked into water chemistry or your local water report?