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Boardwalk Belgian Quad v3.0

One of my personal favorites of all the beers I've brewed is the first version of the Boardwalk Belgian Quadrupel I made some time ago. I made a second version for competition earlier this year and was extremely disappointed with it. Despite that, it took third place at Barley's Ale House's annual homebrew competition and received very favorable comments from the judges.

For this version, I reversed a choice I made in version 2.0 (using some high-alpha hops to improve head retention) and dramatically increased the amount of fruit used in the beer. The original version used 4 ounces of chopped raisins. This version uses 6 ounces of raisins and 8 ounces of prunes, pureed with some wort and added to the hop spider.  I also swapped out some of the Belgian Pilsen Malt for Cara-Pils/Dextrine Malt and Melanoidin malt to improve head retention.


10 pounds Belgian Pilsen Malt
1 pound Cara-Pils/Dextrine Malt
1 pound Melanoidin Malt
1 pound Caramel Munich Malt (Belgian 60L)
8 ounces Dark Munich Malt
4 ounces Aromatic Malt
4 ounces Special B Malt
6 ounces Raisins
8 ounces Prunes (Dried Plums)
8 ounces Brun Fonce Candi Sugar
8 ounces Simplicity Candi Syrup
0.5 grams Seeds of Paradise, crushed
0.25 ounces Coriander, crushed
1 tablet Whirlfloc
1 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
1 ounce Northern Brewer hops pellets @ 10.1% AA (60 min.)
1 package White Labs WLP500 Yeast
1 Tbsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer

BeerSmith calculated the brew as follows:

  • Boil time: 90 minutes
  • Est. Pre-Boil volume: 6.6 gallons
  • Batch Size: 5.1 gallons
  • BH Efficiency: 74.7% (what I achieved the last time I brewed this)
  • Est. Original Gravity: 1.094 SG
  • Bitterness (IBUs): 25.6
  • Color: 26.1 SRM
  • Est. ABV: 10.2 %
  • Total Grains: 17.06 pounds
  • Total Hops: 1.00 oz.
  • Bitterness Ratio: 0.272 IBU/SG
  • Est. Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.065 SG
  • Est. Final Gravity: 1.018 SG
Mash Schedule

The mash schedule used was:
  • 5.75 gallons of water, treated with Campden Tablet, heated to 131F
  • 10 minute Protein Rest at 131F
  • 90 minute Saccharification Rest at 156F
  • 10 minute Mash out at 168F
  • Sparge with 2.37 gallons (2.25 gallons plus half a quart) of water at 168F
This yielded 6.6 gallons or 25 Liters of wort.  BeerSmith estimated the gravity at 18.0 Brix but I achieved only 13.5 Brix this time around.

Boil Schedule

A 90-minute boil began, with the following schedule:
  • 90 minutes: Boil with no hops, stirring foam back into beer
  • 60 minutes: Add Northern Brewer hops
  • 30 minutes: Extract enough wort to cover prunes and raisins in a container, then puree the mixture with an immersion blender
  • 10 minutes: Add pureed mixture, spices, candi syrups, Brun Fonce sugar, and Whirlfloc
  • 5 minutes: Recirculate wort through chiller for 2 minutes to sterilize it
  • 0 minutes: Turn off heat, cool chiller by running cold water through it, and remove bag with hops, raisins, prunes, spices, etc. from kettle, allowing it to drain normally into kettle
The wort was then pumped through the counter flow chiller into the fermenter.  Temperature was approximately 64F thanks to the very cold tap water.  Approximately 5.5 gallons made it into the fermenter.


A hydrometer measured the wort's gravity at 1.081 SG at 64F.  My refractometer measured the same wort at 18.8 Brix, which is about 1.078 SG.  Pure oxygen was pumped into the wort for 120 seconds and the Clarity Ferm and WLP500 yeast was then pitched into it.  The fermenter was sealed and a blow-off tube attached.

A hot-side-only temperature control system was attached.  The following schedule was set:
  • Days 1-3:  If beer drops below 65F, heat to 67F.  Do not cool regardless of temperature.
  • Days 4-7:  If beer drops below 76F, heat to 76F. Do not cool regardless of temperature.
  • Days 8+:  Keep beer at 80F for up to an additional week. Do not cool.
The yeast packet in this case was manufactured approximately 2 months before brewing. No yeast starter was used. My intention was to stress the yeast a bit to generate flavors, and under-pitching plus free-rise temperatures will help with that.  The high temperatures for the latter half of fermentation should ensure that it ferments out well.

Post-Mortem and Other Notes

Once again, I had a gravity issue.  The last time I made this beer, I hit a post-boil volume of 5.5 gallons at a gravity of 1.065 SG, which I bumped up with Candi Sugar and Brewer's Crystals to 1.085 SG or 22 Brix..  This time around, I hit a fermenter volume of 5.5 gallons with a gravity of 1.080 SG or 19.3 Brix without the Brewer's Crystals.  I had expected 5.1 gallons at 1.094 SG or 22.5 Brix.  Even accounting for the increased fermenter volume this time around, I should have hit a gravity of 1.087 SG if I'd matched my previous brew session results.  

I'm expecting primary fermentation to be complete by approximately 12/20/2017. I should be able to extract a sample for gravity and taste-testing at that time.

12/15/2017:  It took a while for the yeast to get going.  In part that may be because the temperatures in general are low this week. I attached a fermwrap heater to the fermenter and programmed a controller to keep the beer at 68F.  Fermentation finally became obvious in the blow-off bucket today.

12/17/2017:  I took a sample of the wort from the fermenter to check on the gravity. The blow-off tube is burping about twice a second now, and the fermentation temperature is in the 74-76F range.  The sample came up with a gravity of 10.8 Brix, unadjusted.  With the rating adjusted, we're looking at a gravity of about 1.019 SG and a current ABV of about 8.34% according to BeerSmith.  I was estimating final gravity to come in around 10.0 Brix, so there probably isn't a lot of fermenting left for the yeast to do.  The sample tasted good, and I'm looking forward to the finished beer.

12/22/2017:  The blow-off tube has stopped bubbling frequently, but is still bubbling once in a while.  I suspect that it's due to be bottled. I'm hoping to find the time to bottle it before the Christmas holidays get into full swing.  Samples extracted from the fermenter for gravity testing tasted quite good. I'm hopeful the finished beer will be at least as good.

12/24/2017:  There is no more visible action from the blow-off tube, a good indicator that fermentation has ceased. A taste of the beer showed a smooth and easy to drink flavor with some nice Belgian yeast character.  I'm looking forward to getting this bottled and ready to drink.

12/27/2017:  The beer was bottled today with 6 ounces of corn sugar.  This should bring it to 3.0 volumes of CO2, which is on the lower end for some Belgian beers but should be OK in the bottles I have it in.  It should be finished carbonating by approximately January 3 and ready to taste test.  The hydrometer reading for the beer after fermentation was 1.012 SG.  BeerSmith estimated that the 9.8 Brix (uncorrected) refractometer reading worked out to a corrected gravity of 1.013 SG - which is just a hair above the hydrometer reading.  Either way, this works out to about 9% ABV.  That's a bit lower than I intended but within the style.  It's also an apparent attenuation of 84%.  The WLP500 strain is rated at 75-80% attenuation, so I seem to have beaten that slightly.


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