Monday, October 29, 2007

Belgian Sugar Experiment: Round 2

Since I did my first split batch sugar experiment last summer I've been wanting to do it again.

I tried to keep the recipe as similar as possible, due to convenience I changed the basemalt to French Pils since I had a sack of it, Wyeast 3787 because my local homebrew shop doesn't carry White Labs (WL530 and WY3787 are both reportedly the Westmalle strain), I also used melanoidin malt instead of aromatic (very similar extra dark Munich type malts from different maltsters).

I also made a change in the procedure, last time after the boil I immediately split the batch and did the primary fermentation in separate jugs. This created a terrible mess, so this time I did the primary in a 6 gallon fermenter and then added the sugars to the individual jugs for secondary fermentation. This may increase the impact of the various sugars because they will not be subjected to the violent primary fermentation.

Sugar Experiment 2 (Dubbel)

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.125
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.84
Approximate OG: 1.063 (Including sugars)
Anticipated SRM: 5.6
Anticipated IBU: 21.1
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 80 Minutes

7.00 lbs. French Pils
2.25 lbs. Belgian Pale Malt
0.25 lbs. Melanoidin Malt
0.25 lbs. Vienna Malt

1.50 oz. Hallertau Hersbrucker (3.3% AA) @ 75 min.
0.50 oz. Hallertau Hersbrucker (3.3% AA) @ 12 min.

.50 Unit Whirlfloc 12 Min.(boil)

WYeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity Smackpack

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC + CaCl in mash

Calcium(Ca): 45.2 ppm
Magnesium(Mg): 8.0 ppm
Sodium(Na): 13.8 ppm
Sulfate(SO4): 49.0 ppm
Chloride(Cl): 28.0 ppm
biCarbonate(HCO3): 86.3 ppm

Mash Schedule
Dough In 15 min @ 135
Sacc Rest 45 min @ 145
Intermediate 15 min @ 163

Brewed 10/08/07 with James

Added 4 grams CaCl to 4 gallons of mash water to get the calcium up to make sure mash was around the right pH (measured around 5.4 at room temp, 5.1 at mash temp)

Collected 6.25 gallons of 1.045 runnings, 4.25 gallons post boil topped up with a jug of Poland Springs water

Placed the fermenter in 60 degree freezer for 5 hours, topped up to just under 5 gallons with 3 quarts of Poland Springs water. Gave 1 minute pure O2, then pitched a fresh, inflated smack pack of yeast. Fridge adjusted to 64 degrees.

Took about 24 hours to get going, but after that it had a vigorous fermentation.

After 48 hours of active fermentation I bumped the ambient temp up to 70 to prevent the yeast from "crashing" and to encourage the formation of esters.

Took 3.5 oz of each sugar and brought it to a boil with 3.5 oz of water. I then mixed each sugar with a little less than a gallon of beer in a 4 liter jug for secondary fermentation.
1. Agave (Used to make Mezcal/Tequila)
2. Lyle's Golden Syrup (Common in English baking)
3. Granulated Date Sugar (Dehydrated dates, ground up) Rehydrated it got really thick and tasted like pureed dates
4. Homemade Candi Sugar (plain white sugar with regulated temp rise)
5. Gur/Jaggery (An Indian sugar made from either Palm Sugar or Cane Sugar, not sure which mine is, but I think it is palm.)

By the next day it appeared that all of the batches were fermenting again, with the date sugar batch seeming the most active.

Bottled 10/28/07
Aiming for 2.8 volumes of CO2 about 22 grams of corn sugar per batch. Got a six pack and a bomber of most of them.

Final Gravities:
Agave - 1.006
Homemade Candi Syrup - 1.006 (It's fermentable Woohoo!!)
Gur - 1.007
Lyle's - 1.006
Date Sugar - 1.005

Full tasting in late December.


Zeke said...

Simply awesome. Another set of experiments is the affect of priming sugar on the final product. Potentially you could experience exploding bottles, but what's some flying glass in the pursuit of zymurgic perfection?

Also, this coming Saturday (Nov. 3) is Teach a Friend to Homebrew day. For anyone who reads this blog and is interested in learning how to brew this is a great experience. For events near you check the American Homebrew Association website (

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Glad you enjoyed this one! I can’t wait to start trying some carbonated samples.

I remember reading that Denny Conn did an experiment comparing different ways of priming. He found there was no flavor difference between force carbonation, malt extract, and various pure and unrefined sugars.

Level of carbonation would be an easy one to run as part or a regular batch, just use carb tabs to vary the level for a couple of bottles. As you said, the highly carbed samples might exploded, especially if you just use “standard” brown 12 oz’ers.

For the 1st round I added the sugars at the start of primary and most had final gravities a bit higher than this time around, might be a result of other variables. However, it could be a result of having less stressed out yeast.

I’ll second the recommendation to teach a friend to homebrew (or teach a friend who already homebrews “standard” beers to brew a funky/sour beer!). The more people that do these things the better it is for all of us, more people means more shops/books/equipment/ingredients, and lower prices as these businesses will have a lower percentage of overhead as they get more customers.


Zeke said...

Good ol' Denny. In a few weeks I'm going to build his Cheap 'n Easy batch sparge system.