Sunday, July 16, 2017

Gulden Draak 9000 Quadrupel Clone 1.0

The Gulden Draak and Gulden Draak 9000 Belgian beers are two of my favorites.  I've made a few unsuccessful attempts to brew Gulden Draak, but before today had never tried to brew Gulden Draak 9000.  I found the recipe on the Candi Syrup, Inc., web site and acquired the ingredients.

Earlier in the week, I began culturing up White Labs WLP510  Bastogne yeast to make sure I had enough available to brew the beer successfully, a 4L starter took care of that.

Ingredients

9 pounds 4.5 oz Belgian Pilsen Malt
4.5 pounds Belgian Pale Ale Malt
1.5 pounds Belgian Cara 45 Malt
1.5 pounds D-45 Candi Syrup
1 ounce Spalt hops @ 2.6% AA
0.85 ounces Northern Brewer hops @ 9.6% AA
0.85 ounces Hallertau Mittelfrueh @ 4.0% AA
1 Tbsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer
1 Whirlfloc tablet
1/2 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1 Campden Tablet

According to BeerSmith, this brew should hit the following numbers:

  • Batch Size: 5.1 gallons
  • Pre-Boil Volume: 6.6 gallons
  • Brew House Efficiency: 80%
  • Boil Time: 90 minutes
  • Estimated Original Gravity: 1.097
  • IBUs: 28.5
  • Color: 15.3 SRM
  • ABV: 10.1%
  • Total Grains: 16.79 pounds
  • Total Hops: 2.7 ounces
  • Bitterness Ratio: 0.293
  • Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.083 SG
  • Final Gravity: 1.022 SG
I'm not quite sure why, but I came nowhere close to some of those numbers.  The actual figures were:
  • Batch Size: 4.5 gallons in the fermenter
  • Original Gravity: 17.0 Brix or 1.070 SG
  • Pre-boil Gravity: 12.2 Brix or 1.049 SG
  • Pre-boil Volume: 5.75 gallons
Since it's pretty typical for me to hit my gravity and volume targets, being over a half a gallon off in volume and 27 gravity points low was disturbing.  I will be looking into this more.  BeerSmith says my efficiency for this batch was 47.6%, which is a new low.

Mash

The mash schedule was as follows, per Candi Syrup, Inc.'s recipe:
  • 6.0 gallons of mash water heated to 124F
  • Grain pitched along with pH 5.2 stabilizer
  • 15 minutes at 124F
  • 30 minutes at 153F
  • 15 minutes at 162F
  • 10 minute mash out at 170F
  • Sparge with 1.5 gallons of water at 170F
This yielded only 5.75 gallons of wort in the kettle, instead of the expected 6.6 gallons.  This means I need to revisit my calculations, I think.

Pre-boil gravity registered a mere 12.2 Brix instead of the expected 20.0 Brix.

Boil

A 90-minute boil was called for in the recipe, as noted below:
  • 90 minutes:  No additions
  • 60 minutes:  Add Northern Brewer hops
  • 30 minutes:  Add Spalt hops
  • 15 minutes: Add yeast nutrient
  • 10 minutes:  Add Hallertau, D-45 Syrup, and Whirlfloc tablet
  • 7 minutes: Recirculate wort through chiller to sterilize
  • 0 minutes:  Turn off heat, cool down chiller, and pump wort into fermenter
Post-boil volume was 4.9 gallons at 17.0 Brix gravity, well below the expected amount and volume.

Fermentation

Wort was pumped through The Grainfather's counterflow chiller into a stainless fermenter where the yeast from the 4L WLP510 starter were waiting.  Although the original recipe called for a starting fermentation temp of 62F, I couldn't get the beer below 76.4F.  

The plan is to let the beer cool down to ambient temperature, and have a controller and heating element keep it at or above the following temperature schedule:
  • Days 1-2: 62F or higher
  • Day 3: 64F or higher
  • Day 4: 66F or higher
  • Day 5: 68F or higher
  • Day 6: 70F or higher
  • Days 7+: 74F or higher
After approximately 4 weeks, the beer will be transferred to a secondary fermenter or a bottling bucket... as yet to be determined.

Update:  After roughly 3 hours in the fermenter, I'm already seeing significant activity in the airlock, so I suspect the yeast are happy in their new home.  

Post-Mortem and Notes

This was not my best brew day.  

I made my first attempt to brew using the new Grainfather Connect controller and Android app.  Importing a BeerXML file from The Grainfather recipe site resulted in the app wanting to set mash temperatures well above boiling (255F in one case).  Importing one from BeerSmith resulted in the app telling me I needed only 0.9 gallons of mash water for 15.3 pounds of grain.  Fortunately, I knew better and used the right mash water amount.  

Despite sorting out the temps and amounts, the application crashed after the first of the four mash steps.  Re-launching it didn't pick up where it left off, but wanted to start the mash over. There seemed to be no way to move to the next step of the mash (which is where I was at the time), so I ended up having to manually set mash temps from there on.  Not a big deal, but it kind of negates the value of the app.

After the mash, it became clear that something was wrong.  The kettle had little more than 4 gallons in it before the sparge, and just under 6 gallons after the sparge.  I would have added water to raise the level, but the wort was way beneath the gravity I calculated too. I decided to just brew as it was. The final gravity was still almost 27 (SG) points below my calculated amount.  Although I have often gotten 80% efficiency, today I saw a massive drop. My efficiency was well below 50% on this batch.

Going back to my mash and sparge water calculation spreadsheet, I did some re-calculation and discovered that I have been calculating sparge water amounts incorrectly.  I updated the spreadsheet and this seemed to give me numbers that matched reality.  That should help future brews hit their volume targets more consistently.

While the calculation error explains the volume discrepancy, I am still at a loss to explain the efficiency issue.  I'd been seeing 80% efficiency fairly consistently, but this batch comes in around 48%.  It's something I'll need to sort out.

Update 08/12/2017:  The beer has been bottled with corn sugar and conditioned for a couple of weeks at 78F to ensure good carbonation.  The finished beer is disappointing.  Whether this is because I failed to come close to the gravity target (which seems likely) or because it's not a good recipe, I'm not sure.  It's drinkable, recognizable as Belgian style, and looks about the right color for Gulden Draak 9000... but that's about all I can say for it.  I'm hoping maybe with some aging it will improve, but right now it's at best "OK" and definitely no Gulden Draak 9000 clone as-is.  Next time around, I think I would swap out some of the Pilsen malt for Melanoidin and Cara-Pils to improve the body and head retention.  I'd also boil longer or make other changes to get the beer closer to the target gravity before adding hops.

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