Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grimbergen Belgium Dubbel Ale

This is a local brew (local to Belgians that is) that originated in Grimbergen village near Brussels in 1128. The beer has a hazy dark caramel color with a sweet raisiny smell. There was no hint of hops. The head was bright white and airy. It is initially extremely sweet on the palate. The taste was somewhere between caramel and toffee with an all-spice like finish. It was not a heavy as I am use to with Belgian Dubbels and was only 6.5% ABV but had good flavor. I can understand why this Abbey didnt make the Trappist cut but I enjoyed my experience none the less.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Brew day: Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

This is by far my most complex recipe to date. My grains include some roasted barley, crystal, and brown. The LME is a combination of 2 dark brown ales. I also went with Northern hops for bittering and got a little aroma from Perle. Dextrine was mixed with the coco to add body and flavoring.

Ive wanted to brew an oatmeal stout for a long time now however, my goal was to do a Sam Smith clone. Since you cant really walk into Brew Depot and pick up some Sam Smith proprietary yeast, II decided to wait till I cam up with my own recipe. The last chocolate beer I did (Rasperry Chocolate Wheat) was not chocolaty at all. I only used 1 roasted grain and no real coco. This time I was determined to get it right.
So after sanitizing my fermenters, tubing, pots, spoons, etc, I got started with the fun stuff. First thing I did was mixed the Dextrine and coco with a cup of water in a small gravy pot. After bringing it to a boil and whisking thoroughly, i sat it to the side and started on the wort.

After soaking my LME cans in hot water for 30 min, I started my wort with 4 gallons of water. The Northern Hops were added @ 60 min along with the Dextrine concoction. At 30 min I added the grains followed by the Perle @ 1 min. I was shooting for an OG of 1.061 or higher (considering all the sugars I included) but I made a grave mistake with the top off water. I estimated a 1 gallon loss due to evaporation (taking it down to 3 gallons) so I was supposed to add 2 gallons to the fermenter before adding my wort. I mistakenly added 3 gallons (no idea why), which took my OG down to 1.051.
Last time I checked, there was no law about DWB (Drinking While Brewing). Probably related to my OG issue :)

So after deliberating on whether or not to add more sugars to the mix ( I had 1 lb of crystal on hand) I decided to go with the 1.051 OG. If I am lucky, I might be able to get 5.3% ABV out of this batch. I was shooting for atleast 7%.

I then pitched my British Ale Liquid yeast (WL005 i believe) and crossed my fingers. It took a good 8 hours for the yeast to start talking to me, the longest I have every had to wait for any signs of life. But it seems to be doing its thing now.My temp is a little on the high side (76F) but things look good so far.With all of the sugars involved, I will probably leave this one in the primary for 4 weeks before transferring.

In the mean time, I am working on a full bodied Belgian Ale that I should be brewing in the next 10 days.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Brugs Wit

The term Belgian Wit almost seems like an antonym. Belgian beers are always full flavored, heavy, and extremely complex. When I think of Belgian Beers, beet sugars and fruitiness comes to mind. When I think of wits, I think dry, crisp, refreshing brews.

I quess my expectations are already set when I tasted this beer because I really did not enjoy it. It had a slight all spice smell with a hint of apricots. The mouth feel was very thin and uneventful. It was sweeter than many domestic wits, which was a surprise, but that taste was quickly overpowered by the Belgian yeast's fruitiness. It was refreashing, but at only 4.8% abv, it was too light for my Belgian taste buds.

Trappist Rochefort 8

This dark brown, hazy bottle of liquid gold is often considered the cream of the crop in Belgium. The local that introduced me to this brew literally dragged me to 4 different bars in search of this elusive concoction. It's not the rarest Trappist beer (18000 hl compared to Westvleteren's 4700 hl) and is not even the strongest of the brewery. Rochefort 10 is 11.3 % abv where Rochefort 8 is 9.2%. However it is, in my opinion, the best tasting. Rochefort 10 is extremely heavy and is best sipped at room temp. The water for the beers is drawn from a well located inside the monastery walls.

Rochefort 8 is considered a demi-sec (half dry) beer with a strong sweet aroma and a hint of fruitiness.

The taste is extremely complex but not as heavy as the alchol content might dictate. It is extremely sweet however after a second the fruitiness of the yeast and bitterness of the hops starts to dominate the sweetness.

The head is pretty weak yet creamy. Its color appears to be a combination of cream and tan.