When I bottled my (non-oak-aged) La Trappe Quadrupel clone on Friday, I decided that I was pleased enough with it to try using the recipe to make a clone of the oak aged version, too. Tonight, I put the Brewie to work on it. My plan is to soak oak chips in Everclear for a few days, then add those late in the primary fermentation. When the desired oak flavor is achieved, I'll bottle the beer and give it some time to age before sharing.
This recipe is a slight change from the previous version, intended to raise the alcohol content but otherwise maintain the flavor of the original.
3 pounds, 2 ounces of Rahr 2-row Pale Malt
8 ounces British Medium Crystal (55-60L) Malt
2 ounces Belgian Aromatic Malt
2 ounces Victory Malt (substitute for Biscuit Malt)
8 ounces of Rice Hulls
1 pound of Corn Sugar
1 Tablespoon of pH 5.2 Stabilizer
1/2 tsp. Bitter Orange Peel (20 min.)
1/2 tsp. Bitter Orange Peel (5 min.)
1/4 tsp. Coriander, crushed (20 min.)
1 packet (equivalent) Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity yeast (from a starter)
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm (for gluten removal)
0.80 ounces Styrian Celeia hops @ 2.8% AA (60 min.)
0.60 ounces Styrian Celeia hops @ 2.8% AA (20 min.)
0.60 ounces Styrian Celeia hops @ 2.8% AA (5 min.)
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient (20 min.)
4.3 gallons mash water (untreated Dublin Road tap water)
1.4 gallons sparge water (untreated Dublin Road tap water)
According to BeerSmith, the beer should have the following characteristics:
BeerSmith estimated the qualities of this beer as:
- BJCP Style: 26.D Belgian Dark Strong Ale
- Batch Size: 2.55 gallons (actual volume was well over 3.25 gallons, with 2.75 gallons in the fermenter and 0.50 gallons stored for future use)
- Original Gravity: 1.105 SG estimated (actual 1.085 SG)
- Final Gravity: 1.012 estimated
- IBUs: 29.6
- ABV: 10.9% (adjusted estimate 10.6%)
- SRM: 13.7
I decided to run a long mash to see if I could coax a really high efficiency out of the machine. The mash schedule used was:
- Mash in and Ferulic Acid Rest at 113F for 10 minutes
- Mash Step 1 at 148F for 30 minutes
- Mash Step 2 at 158F for 50 minutes
- Sparge with 168F water
Brewie estimated that the entire brewing process would take 6.25 hours to complete. Given that I was starting it at about 5pm, that meant it would be after 11pm before it finished.
Since the recipe included Pilsner malt, it seemed worthwhile to have a longer boil to drive off any DMS the malt produced. In addition, this would help concentrate the wort if gravity came up low. I could always dilute with distilled water if it came out high.
The boil schedule:
- 90 minutes: No additions
- 60 minutes: 0.80 ounces Styrian Celeia
- 20 minutes: 0.60 ounces Styrian Celeia, plus yeast nutrient, 1/4 tsp. coriander, and 1/2 tsp. bitter orange peel
- 5 minutes: 0.60 ounces Styrian Celeia, plus 1/2 tsp. bitter orange peel
- Days 1-2 (Dec. 16-17): 65F
- Day 3 (Dec. 18): 67F
- Day 4 (Dec. 19): 71F
- Day 5 (Dec. 20): 75F
- Day 6 (Dec. 21) through end of Primary (est. Dec. 27-28): 76F (oak chips will be added when attenuation is around 80%)
I'll start pulling small daily samples starting around 12/21 to check the oak flavor level. When it appears to be optimal, I'll bottle the beer with 5 carbonation tablets per bottle (high carbonation).
Post-Brewing Notes and Observations
When I brewed the original clone batch, I split the fresh package of Wyeast 3787 between the batch of beer and a Fast Pitch Starter Wort. After 24 hours on a stir plate, I chilled the flask in the fridge, decanted off most of the clear liquid and kept the rest in a sealed jar. Tonight I split off half the contents of the jar to use for this batch, and put the other half in a fresh starter to keep myself supplied with it. If the amount I pitch into the beer turns out not to be enough, I'll use some of the fresh starter to get the beer going.
I've modified my mash and sparge water calculation sheet for the Brewie based on my recent brewing experiences with it. As with the Zymatic, I always seem to come up about a quart short when the brew is over. After adjusting the sheet, I entered the numbers for the last two batches I did and got back a result that was very close to the actual "wort in fermenter" amount.
Sadly, I've had to adjust the efficiency setting in BeerSmith down to about 50% to account for the low efficiency of the Brewie system. Adding rice hulls and adjusting to a smaller crush last time seemed to improve efficiency some, and I'm hoping this batch will get closer to my gravity and volume targets. Hitting those targets is key to repeating your results and gauging the effect of recipe changes.
11:30pm: The Brewie delivered on its promise to be finished brewing at 11:15pm. At that point it had mashed the grain, boiled the wort, and chilled it down to 70F. I had quite a surprise when I pumped the wort into the fermenter, though. Instead of 2.5 gallons, I ended up with a considerable amount more. I filled the fermenter almost to the top and pumped an unmeasured amount down the drain. I sanitized two quart jars and filled those with wort. That left 2.75 gallons in the fermenter. The gravity of this wort was 1.085 SG, considerably lowed than expected. The question now is whether this was a problem with the calibration of the machine's weight sensors, or a miscalculation in my updated spreadsheet.
I pitched the yeast into the wort and connected the temperature control system, setting it to 65F. I'll have it hold that temperature until Tuesday night (assuming the fermentation is well underway by then).
12/17/2018: The Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity yeast has a reputation for slow starts and explosive fermentation. There was no change in gravity for about 10 hours after pitching some of my reserved and re-grown yeast from the original package. As of this writing, gravity has dropped from 1.085 SG down to 1.078. There is a thick krausen on the beer and the blow-off tube is constantly bubbling in the water bucket. The temperature control system is keeping a consistent 65F as planned. Tomorrow night I'll bump that up to 67F.
12/18/2018: The yeast is going nuts at this point. It's blown enough into the blow-off tube that large sections of it are tan (yeast) colored and the water in the blow-off jar is milky white. Gravity is down to 1.051 SG. I raised the temperature to 67F to help coax the yeast along. Tomorrow night, I'll bump it up to 71F.