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Monday, February 25, 2013

Westbennetteren 12 b2

I got a corded drill to help me mill
Over a year ago I set out to brew my first Belgium Quadrupel aka quad which I tongue-in-cheek called Westbennetteren 12. Not only did it become one of best beers I've brewed (in my opinion) but helped to kick off QuadFest along with Shawn and Daniel.  If you recall from the post we had such a good time we already started planning the 2013 event. To make the date I needed to get brewing!

According to my notes from QuadFest 2012 
I'm very pleased with how it came out.  Lots of nice dark stone fruit flavor.  Great character from the yeast. Slightly high level of carbonation but not as bad as I had feared.  Similar to the Westvleteren but not as dead on as I was hoping for. It was definitely a little darker and the taste was close but not right there. I had another bottle of it the next day and took some notes for a tasting analysis. Next year I'll follow some of Daniel's advice and simplify the grain bill even more going straight up plisner.
I decided after reviewing Daniel's recipe (which was actually pretty similar to mine) to keep the split between pale and plisner the same. Last year I think I ended up using US grain (despite my notes saying Bel) because it's special order at the shop as I found out when I tried to get Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel so I ended up using some of the 2 row I had on hand (I do love buying grain by the sack). 

A rainbow of flavor
For the sugar portion I again sought out syrup from Candi Syrup Inc. In order to lighten in up and modify the flavor slighty to try and get it more in line with Westvleteren 12 I changed the amount of D-180 from 2 lb to 1 lb and made up for it by adding a pound of D-45.  So my order to Candi Syrup Inc was pretty much one of every syrup they offered (I use Simplicity to prime) with the exception of Golden.

If I recall the logic behind my hop schedule from last year I might have grabbed the Northdown thinking that they were a sub for Goldings which I couldn't find.  This year I was able to find some Goldings so I made that switch.

I briefly toyed with the idea of using East Coast Yeast Trappist Ale (ECY13) but between price, availability and time I decided to stick with good old WLP530 Abbey Ale from White Lab.  To build the projected 336.3 billion yeast cells needed I made a 6 pint starter and tossed it on my stir plate a few days in advance. For some reason BeerSmith 2 stops calculating yeast cell build after 4 pints (which ended up at 465.9 billion) so I know I was nicely north of the required amount.

As before when it came to temperature I took to the mid 80s for the initial fermentation.  I actually got there a little fast (oh no) due to some issues with the balancing act as ask my fermentation cube to do for warming beers. I got it under control and will start lowing it as soon as it enters the below 1.020 range.  After that it will be a nice 6 months of bulking conditioning at lager temps.



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Marshall's Matrimonial IPL

Marshall Mashing
When one of my best friends asked if I would brew a beer for his wedding, I was immediately honored and of course said yes.  I've know Marshall for almost 3 years ever since the first club meeting at AHP way back in 2010.  We we both pretty early in our brewing careers looking to collect some feedback on some of our ordinarily beers.  While I can't remember for the life of me what brought I'll never forget Marshall's. He called it Palate Wrecker and it was a big bastard of an IPA which he severed directly out of a 5 gallon keg keg he'd brought with him.  I thought it was an outstanding beer and given my known affinity for hoppy beers it was clear early on we'd be a good match. It wasn't long before we started brewing a couple of beers together and enjoying even more.

For his wedding Marshall requested a "clone" my most infamous beers - Scott's BIG IPL a beer I have so far produced 6 times now (7 if you count the one I did at Karl Strauss) so by now I've got it pretty much down.  The major problem I ran into was a lack of lager yeasts at the shop, I guess turnover on them has been low and someone recently bought most of his stock.  I therefore I to make a starter with Saflager 34/70, while not ideal was really my best option. 

Tucked in for the night
At this point I've got working with Minute rice down pretty well.  When getting ready to figure out my mash volumes and temps I remove the rice as well as about a half gallon of the strike water.  To prep the rice I bring four quarts of water to a boil and add a pound of rice  I then let it go for about 10-15 minutes while I finishing heating the strike water to temperature.  Once all is said and done I add about after the strike water, the grain, the other half of the strike and finally the entire pot with the rice and water and stir it till everything is incorporated.   I'm pretty sure I need to work a little more on the extract potential on of the rice as I think I'm not hitting gravity correctly because of it.

I had a couple of problems with the sparge,  First was Marshall accidentally disconnecting the tube from the false bottom.  It was pretty obvious as the first vorlauf was entirely grain. The other was a stuck sparge caused by compression around the false bottom, the root cause could either be double milling the grain (which I've done on every batch) or the rice. Or something else entirely.

Personally I think it's going to be a great batch and can't wait to try it in April.



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