Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Audrey's Amber - Strong Belgian Ale

Last spring my girlfriend Audrey and I brewed a Lemon-Pepper Single for our first joint brew (she had helped out on parts of several brews, but that was the first one where she was involved in every step).  She tends to like Belgian style beer, Ommegang, Unibroue, and Goose Island are the breweries she tends to go for when left to her own devices (although she also comes home with a six-pack of Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye and New Holland Dragon's Milk).  This time around Audrey wanted to go a bit darker and stronger to make a beer that would hold up well enough to bring with her when she heads off to Tufts for grad school this fall.

I encouraged Audrey to keep the recipe pretty simple, a blend of Pils and Munich accounted for 90% of the grain, with some flaked barley for body and head retention and a few ounces of chocolate malt for color (despite an estimated color of 16 SRM the beer looks closer to 20, brown more than amber).  We used Willamettes and US Fuggles to bitter (just working through the last of the 2008 crop) and a touch of Saaz near the end for a faint spicy aroma.  I forgot to check which yeast we used last year, and Audrey picked out White Labs 550 (the same La Chouffe strain we used for our previous collaboration).  While the color, alcohol, and yeast might lead some people to call this a Dubbel, it lacks the dark fruit character that dark crystal malt or dark candi syrup usually provides.

This batch also marks the first of what I hope will be many partial batch Brett'd beers.  I got a culture of Brett bruxellensis from White Labs and made a starter that I'm hoping to keep going indefinitely.  I'm planning on pulling a gallon off of any beer that seems interesting to try some relatively quick Brett beers without lactic acid bacteria.  For this one I added the Brett along with the primary yeast (I'm going to wait to bottle until the gravity is stable), but eventually my goal is to do some Brett finished beers by adding Brett at bottling (although that will probably wait until I have a corker).

Audrey's Belgian Amber

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.25
Anticipated OG: 1.071
Anticipated SRM: 15.6
Anticipated IBU: 29.9
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74 %
Wort Boil Time: 95 Minutes

67.9% - 9.00 lbs. French Pilsner
22.6% - 3.00 lbs. German Munich Malt
7.5% - 1.00 lbs. Flaked Barley
1.9% - 0.25 lbs. English Chocolate Malt

1.38 oz. Willamette (Pellet, 4.00% AA) @ 80 min.
0.63 oz. US Fuggle (Pellet, 4.00% AA) @ 80 min.
0.50 oz. Czech Saaz (Pellet, 2.90% AA) @ 15 min.

0.25 tsp Irish Moss @ 10 Min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 10 Min.

White Labs WLP550 Belgian Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Carbon Filtered Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest 70 min @ 150

1.5 L started 5/14/10 with a bit of yeast nutrient. Fermenting well by the
next morning, shook every 12 hours or so.

5/16/10 Brewed with Audrey

Added rice hulls, but still had a bit of a slow sparge. Fly sparged, collected 7 gallons of 1.054 wort.

Good strong boil. Could only chill to 72 due to warm tap water.

Pitched ~1 L of starter into 4 gallons. 1 gallon got a cup or so of yeast starter plus half a cup of Brett B starter.

Good strong fermentation after 12 hours, ~67 ambient.

5/23/10 Racked to corny keg for secondary, still has a bit krausen, but I needed the carboy. Gravity still 1.020 (72% AA), left warm ~75-80, hopefully should drop a few more points.

5/30/10  Lots of CO2 to vent when I returned from Florida, looks like fermentation is complete.

6/2/10 Moved down to the basement where it is slightly cooler.

6/5/10 Racked the Brett portion to another 1 gallon jug, pitched the dregs into the Session Brett Belgian Pale Peter and I brewed.

6/13/10 Bottled ~4 gallons with 1 5/8 oz of table sugar and 2 7/8 oz Demerara (out of table sugar).  Aiming for ~3 volumes of CO2.  Might be a bit higher since there seemed to be more CO2 than I was used to in suspension. Down to 1.010 (8% ABV, 86% AA).  Did an extra through job stirring the dissolved sugar into the wort after the inconsistent carbonation with last year's batch.

8/5/10 First tasting, nice carbonation, good blance of fruit/spice/malt.

10/14/10 Bottled 7 bottles worth of the Brett'd portion each with 1/2 tsp of table sugar, a bit band-aidy but hopefully that will pass with more time.

3/9/11 The Brett'd portion is doing well. Some earthy funk, but it isn't too aggressive.  Nice balance of fruit, malt, and funk.


Andrei said...

I did something similar with cocoa stout I brewed last week, where I split off a gallon into a jug and will pitch a starter based on Orval dregs. Any advice on how long to keep the beer in the jug before transferring to another one like you did?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I usually rack a beer to secondary (funky or not) a few days to a week after it looks like primary fermentation is finished. That gives a bit of time for the primary strain to flocculate and fall out of suspension. When making a funky/sour beer racking is less important because the Brett will scavenge nutrients from the Saccharomyces as they die, but I like to do it in most anyway to get the “cleaner” flavor profile it results in.

It should be an interesting beer, not many funky chocolate beers out there (although Jolly Pumpkin and Fantome each do one). Good luck.

Andrei said...

To be clear, I'm pitching funky stuff into secondary, so should I just leave it there for a while, or transfer to another jug after a few weeks since there's some of the primary yeast that came through via siphoning?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It should be fine left in secondary until it is ready. Make sure the gravity is stable and you're happy with the flavor before you do.

Andrei said...

Gravity is stable, but I presume Brett will break down some residual sugars, will it not?

Also, what do you use to bottle beer from one of your gallon jugs, a mini auto-siphon or something else?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Exactly, gravity stable post-Brett fermentation (don't worry about even checking for a couple months). Yep, mini-autosiphon (although I like to go into a bottling bucket and batch prime, I've had lousy results trying to prime individual bottles.)

Jorge said...

Hey Mike, I was just reading your post on HomeBrewTalk about adding hops at flame out...

Anyways... I just did an interview on my blog with Carla from TheBeerBabe.com... I think Audrey and her should connect...