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Belgian Dark Strong – Winter 2018

March 12, 2018

Brewed the same recipe as previously. I recall it being really good, though I didn’t give any updates in the blog post.

Recipe

Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew Day (3/11/2018)

Terrible.

Actually it didn’t turn bad until the end when I started the cooldown. I forget how exactly, but a hose popped off my pump when I was recirculating, causing wort to spray all over the garage. After that my garden hose outlet popped off twice spraying the garage with hot water. I was an idiot and had the outlet crimped shut by a propane tank sitting on it. I popped the hose off twice before I realized.

After all that, I succeeded in getting a little under 5 gallons into the fermentor at 1.107. Much better OG than last time.

Pitched about 1 cup of yeast collected from my dubbel about three weeks ago. Aerated with O2 for 1 minute.

Fermentation

In Rubbermaid in garage with aquarium heater at ~68.

Krausen and airlock activity after <20 hours, continuing pretty vigorously for 4 or 5 days. It actually steadily grew in intensity until it started blowing off. I didn’t initially set up a blow off tube, thinking the <5 gallons in a 6.5 gallon carboy would be fine.

Pretty soon after blowing off, fermentation slowed considerably.

Sample after ~6 days: 1.070! Very sweet, as expected based on the gravity, but not bad. Bitterness is very minor and alcohol is smooth. I was worried that I was fermenting too warm for the gravity, but I would expect the fusel alcohol to have come out by now if it would, so the smoothness is a relief. Bumped up the aquarium heater a couple degrees to hopefully kick fermentation up a little. There’s an awful lot of sugar to still finish off. I may need to throw in a higher-attenuating yeast if it doesn’t keep dropping steadily.

Sample after ~10 days: 1.060. I kicked up the fermentation temperature a few degrees since the start. Initially it was about 66F for a few days, then up to ~68F for a few more, and now up to ~70 or so. Booziness in the aroma, sort of a rum and coke smell. Not nearly as sweet and more firm bitterness especially on the back end. No noticeable alcohol.

Sample after 15 days: 1.052. Still chugging along, at least. Maybe it will eventually finish. Not much has changed flavor- or aroma-wise since the last sample. Still sweet, though not sickly sweet. Firm bitterness. Most alcohol is apparent in the aroma, not so much the flavor.

Sample after 23 days (after returning from vacation): Still 1.052. I roused the yeast by shaking the carboy. If I don’t see a gravity drop after a couple days, I may need to pitch some new yeast. Given the time (close to 4 weeks), I think I’ll rack to a secondary and pitch. 4 weeks is in my head as a guideline for getting beer off the yeast, at least at ale temperatures.

Sample after 27 days: 1.050, so it actually dropped a couple points. I don’t think that’s enough to where I’ll give it more time to finish up. I’m going to pick up a packet of dry yeast (US-05, maybe) and add it after I rack to secondary. The taste, aroma, mouthfeel, etc. are basically unaffected, which is to say, pretty tasty.

After previous sample, racked to secondary, leaving most trub behind. Pitched hydrated and grown (in ~1.5L starter) packet of Safbrew T-58 ~28 days after initial pitch (was same price as US-05, so I figured I might as well). Steady airlock activity after <6 hours, so maybe I have some hope to get this down to a respectable FG.

Sample after 33 days: 1.033. Decent attenuation after ~5 days of the repitch. Carboy slowly bubbling (every 10 seconds or so), having kept fairly steady activity the whole time.

Impressions

Going off memory. I bottled up 4 bombers, naturally carbonated, for posterity but otherwise the keg’s been dry for a few weeks. My recollection was that it was pretty good except for the cloying sweetness. I’ll have to give a more thoughtful impression once I crack into one of the bottles.

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From → Ale, All-Grain, Brews

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