Tag Archives: Homebrew

Hoppy Brown Belgian Stout

Back in July I made my second beer using the Grainfather system. Not one to back away from going overboard a little, I decided to do a take on a stout and add a bit of Belgian flare. The idea was simple. Make a good stout, pull back on the grain bitterness a bit, and the use a golden Belgian ale yeast. The hops too needed to complement the yeast.

Choosing the grains was the easy part: pale, crystal, chocolate, and roasted barley. Yeah, but what kind of pale? American? English? Belgian? Being the Belgian influence needed to be recognized, the pilsner malt would be good. SRM of 2, so nice and pale. The amount? 12 pounds.

Deciding on the SRM level of the crystal was next. Using BeerSmith helped. A compromise here to keep the beer from getting too dark and too toasted: 40L at 12 ounces. Just a touch.

A regular chocolate malt was chosen at 350 SRM and the roasted barley at 300. For now, the debittered malt was skipped. After, this is a stout base, not a dark Abbey ale.

The total malt bill looks like so:

  • 12 lbs – Pilsner 2 row Belgian malt (2 SRM)
  • 12 oz – Crystal Malt 40L
  • 12 oz – Chocolate malt (350 SRM)
  • 4 oz – Roasted Barley (300 SRM)

Now for the hops

As we are already playing around with the yeast and target taste profile on the malts, why not the hops too. Usually a stout as very little, if any, hop flavor, but yeah, why not? For bittering, Northern Brewer is a good one. Here the alphas were at 8.5% and boiled for 60 min. Ahtanum has hints of grapefruit and other citrus flavors and dark fruits are wanted, so in go 2 ounces at whirlpool time. Alphas here were 6%, but with no boil time, they will impart no bitterness. Only hop pellets were used.

  • 1 oz – Northern Brewer (8.5%)
  • 2 oz – Ahtanum (6%)

The yeast was to be Belgian Golden Ale WLP570 from White Labs. The store was out of it though, so Wyeast 1388 was substituted. This is not an exact one for one swap, but it should be close enough for the first go.

Stepping the mash

Aiming for a better mouth feel this time, a I decided on a step mash. Strike water as 120 F and the mash started at 113 after dough in. The Grainfather is a recirculating system, so no water is added to increase the mash temperatures.

  • 113 F @ 20 min
  • 127 F @ 20 min
  • 140 F @ 40 min (mash switch setting)
  • 158 F @ 20 min (mash switch setting)
  • Mash out at 168 F for 10 min

Sparge water temperature was 170 F and enough to collect 6 gallons for boiling. The expectation is to lose 1 gallon during boiling.

The results were quite good. Give it a try with your system.

Happy brewing!

Surviving Friday Night

Hop cone in the Hallertau, Germany, hop yard
Hop cone in the Hallertau, Germany, hop yard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Friday night session of the 2014 Cincinnati Beer Fest is over. The plan was to be busy brewing a batch of beer and chatting with the visitors. The latter happened many times. We chatted about the Cincinnati Malt Infusers, grains, hops, what it was like to be in a club, all the usual. The former didn’t happened.

Why not?

Well, snow happened. Traffic became bad and several people were late getting to the convention center. Items were forgotten. The logistics of the location of the booth was very difficult and too crowded. No tubs for ice bath. Lack of a stand to hold the electric brew kettle. Oh my.

Many of the logistics problems are solved and should be better for the Saturday session. I did discuss the recipe with several homebrewers, including Brian Jackson who wants to make an all grain version of it. Excellent. So back the ingredients came. Yeast goes in the fridge with the hops. Try again tomorrow.

This was the first beer fest I’ve ever attended without my camera. Even the first time I went to the Jungle Jim’s beer fest around Father’s Day as a participant, I  had my camera with me to take my own pictures. Last year I took mine to the Cincinnati Beer Fest and only took a few quick ones here and there. This year, it was very odd, but in the end, I liked it. Was able to chat with some beer enthusiasts, gave out some CMI cards and told people where we meet, and made sure some homebrewers interested in AHA took a copy of Zymurgy. It was a welcome change.

The drive home in the two inches of snow was a bit fun. The roads were not clear, but passable. Most of the way home I was trying to remember when I heard Craig Johnson recount the first Columbus Winter Beer Fest story of the after party. For the life of me I cannot remember when or where the telling happened, but I know it did. It had to be at least two years ago and it was warm. That’s all I got. It was a good time, both the fest after party and the place where it was told. Perhaps I’ll remember after sleep.

Not sure if the crowd was hampered due to the snow or not. The turnout seemed good and the participants were well behaved. Coat check was in the hallway outside of the large convention rooms. That seemed to go much better and those fetching their coats were not in the way of those trying to leave. Seems to be a much better way of handling the coats. After all, it is cold outside. A very good improvement.

As always Craig and staff, excellent beer fest. Your hard work shows.

Time to rest and get at it again tomorrow. And what happens if the demonstration has to get scrapped again? No worries, the beer will get made soon. After all, no one has tasted the recipe, not even its creator.

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