Monday, July 11, 2011

Belgian Single Recipe (with Brett)

The right strip is before pH adjustment, the left is after.Despite the reputation I've gained over the years for brewing big/weird/sour beers sometimes I need to brew a simple batch so I have beer on hand to drink that I'm not trying to age.  In this case I had the additional motivation building up enough yeast for my 10 gallon share of the pale braggot that will be going into one of our wine barrels next month.  Two years ago I brewed a simple Extract Single that turned out crisp and satisfying, so I decided to adapt it into an all-grain recipe.  I lowered the original gravity slightly to better suit the warm weather, but my efficiency was higher than expected so I ended up leaving out the .75 lbs of table sugar I had earmarked for the boil.

The better than expected efficiency may have been due in part to my more aggressive than usual water treatment.  I added phosphoric acid and a small amount of calcium chloride to reduce the mash pH.  Luckily my water is well suited for most gold-brown colored beers, so I usually only need to adjust the pH for very light or dark beers.  I should probably get a pH meter that would take readings faster and more accurately than the Color pHast strips I've been using (I'm also interested in taking readings of my finished sour beers, which are below the 4.0-7.0 range of the pH strips).

The wort boiling in my garage brewery.I had to move this beer along rather quickly into bottles because I needed the yeast cake and didn't have any empty secondary fermentors, but I wanted to try adding Brett to a portion of the batch...  Against my better judgement (waiting for a funky beer to ferment out completely before bottling) I decided to add Brett to two six-packs at bottling.  After filling all of the bottles, and capping most of them, I put one bottling wand full of Brettanyomyces bruxellensis starter into each of the remaining bottles before capping. 

My worry is that it doesn't take much additional attenuation to over-carbonate a beer (the fermentation of just .002-.003 is enough for full carbonation) so I am expecting this portion of the batch to eventually reach an explosive level.  Ideally I should have used thicker bottles (as Orval does), but with standard 12 ounce bottles I'll be sampling the beer frequently and moving it to the fridge when the carbonation level becomes concerning.

The addition of Brett B going into one of the slightly under-filled bottles.
Summer in Brussels

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 7.00
Anticipated OG: 1.048
Anticipated SRM: 2.6
Anticipated IBU: 24.2
Brewhouse Efficiency: 90 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

100.0% - 7.00 lbs. German Pilsener

0.75 oz. Hallertauer Tradition (Pellet, 6.00% AA) @ 60 min.
0.50 oz. Hallertauer Tradition (Pellet, 6.00% AA) @ 5 min.
0.50 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellet, 5.25% AA) @ 5 min.

0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.25 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

WYeast 1214 Belgian Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Protein Rest 15 min @ 127
Sacch Rest 50 min @ 148 (Infuse)
Sacch II 10 @ 155 (Infuse)
Mash Out 5 min @ 166 (Infuse)

1 qrt starter made 6/25/11

Brewed 6/26/11 by myself

Added 2 g of CaCl and 3/4 tsp of phosphoric acid to the mash.

Batch sparged with water with 1 g CaCl and 3/4 tsp phosphoric acid.

Chilled to 68 F, pitched the starter which was just starting to show activity. Left at 65 F ambient to start fermenting in a bucket.

7/10/11 Bottled the 4.5 gallons with 3.5 oz of table sugar.  FG 1.010 (79% AA, 5% ABV). Added 1 bottling want worth of Brett B starter to 12 of the bottles, will be interested to see how much time it takes for them to show that character.  Left ~78 F to carbonate.

8/11/11 At one month in the bottle I was able to differentiate the two versions of the beer, but I was not able to pick which one had Brett.

5/7/12 The Brett'd version scored a 39.5 at NHC as a Belgian Specialty. Placed 2nd out of 55 beers. Snippets of the judges' notes.


Nateo said...

I heartily recommend a pH meter. I used to use the EMD strips, which are fine for mash pH tests. I've recently been more into making ciders, and lime softening my water, both of which have pH ranges outside the 4-7.

I bought a Hanna HI 98107 and am happy with it. It was the best compromise I found between accuracy and price, and was the cheapest I found with two point calibration. I think it was $40 from Amazon, but plan on spending another $30 or so for the calibration and storage solutions.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Thanks for the suggestion, always good to hear from someone who has actually used it. Any truth to the rumor that most/all pH meters need to have their probe replaced about once a year?

HolzBrew said...

this brew looks simple and delicious. i'm considering a similar ale, but fermented only with brett. thoughts?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

This is such a simple recipe that it would be a good choice for playing around with the fermentation. I actually did a similar beer for my first 100% Brett beer, fermented with White Labs Brett claussenii in the high 70s with very good (fruity) results.

Jim said...

The recipe looks great... I want to give this one a whirl before the end of summer. I'll add it to my list!

Nateo said...

I haven't had it a whole year so I can't speak to its longevity. I've heard they can go two or three years if stored properly. Some people use distilled water or store it dry, both of which are really bad for the probe. Use storage solution. As the probe wears out the slope will flatten, but with two-point calibration it should remain usable until the probe craps out completely.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Good to hear, I'll put one (and the appropriate calibration/storage solutions) on my "brewing crap to buy" list.

Kovalchuk Viktor Nikolayevich said...

Hey what was your FG after secondary on this one? I loosely followed this recipe for my first all grain brew last week. (first brew of any kind for that matter) Any ways I'm going to be checking up on my gravity here soon and as I used the same yeast was just wondering how low yours fermented down to.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It got down to 1.010, I was a bit surprised it didn't get lower. However, so far I haven't had an issue with the Brett over-carbonating the beer (although I'm sure that will come in a couple more months).

For future reference I always try to list things like FG down in the notes at the bottom of the recipe.

Good luck, let me know how it turns out!

Scott (GoodBeerNut) said...

I've talked to a couple guys at Thermoworks about pH meters. They said that no matter what you hear, all probes need to be replaced yearly. Kaiser says every 2-3 yrs so not sure what to believe. I think Kaiser has the best guide on pH meters out there. Still don't have one but it is my next purchase.

mattspent said...

I have been brewing funky stuffs with mostly 100% pils for the past few months and came across this post while researching for my first all Brett all pils beer (and trying to not click on porn links).

What do you think about all pils and all brett c with non noble hops? i have some summit, bravo and ctz that i got for cheap from nikobrew. do you think this recipe would work with any of these hops considering i would be consuming whilst relatively young?

Unknown said...

I'm planning a very similar beer recipe wise using the Wy 1214 but I will be adding dregs from Cuvee de Ranke and Maraige Parfait and hopefully I will be drinking this in the coming Aussie Summer.