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Austin Homebrew Supply Gulden Draak Homebrew Kit (recipe and notes)

Gulden Draak is one of my favorite Belgian beers.  Any day I find it on draft somewhere at a bar or restaurant is a good one, as far as I'm concerned.  I've wanted to brew a good clone of it for a long time. The clone kits from Austin Homebrew are said to be good ones, so a couple of months back I decided to order their Gulden Draak Clone Kit.

When it arrived, and despite my years of homebrew experience, I was a bit intimidated.  The kit contains over 20 pounds of grain, well outside the limits of The Grainfather's kettle. I was intimidated enough by the sheer bulk of it that I put off brewing it until now.  Today, I forced myself to take it on.

I decided the best way to get a good result from it was to break the mash down into three iterations of seven pounds each.  This amount of grist is where The Grainfather tends to be pretty efficient at conversion.  But this meant three separate grain loads and sparges.  That's quite a lot of work, and shows just how much I love Gulden Draak.

Ingredients

18.5 pounds Belgian Pale Ale malt
1 pound English Crystal malt
1/4 pound Biscuit malt
2 ounces Acid malt
1 pound Red Wheat malt
5 ounces Caramunich malt
1 pound Rice Syrup Solids
2 3-HBU packs of hops pellets
1/2 ounce Styrian Celeia (Golding) hops pellets
1 yeast fuel capsule
1 Whirlfloc tablet
8 gallons of RO water, treated for a balanced malt/hops profile

Brewfather suggests that the recipe will have the following characteristics:
  • Batch Size: 5 gallons estimated, 4.75 actual
  • BJCP Style:  Clone Beer (the real beer is labeled a "Dark Tripel")
  • Original Gravity:  1.123 SG estimated, 1.110 actual
  • Pre-Boil Gravity:  1.068 SG actual before DME, 1.090 after
  • Final Gravity:  1.027 SG estimated
  • IBUs:  18 estimated (20 IBUs adjusted for lower gravity)
  • SRM:  16.5
  • ABV:  11% estimated
  • Fermenter(s) Used:  Rimmer (Green Tilt), Lister (Red Tilt)
  • Bottling Wand:  n/a
  • Carbonation Method: n/a  
  • Brew House Efficiency (per Brewfather):  63%
Mash Schedule:
  • Heat 3.25 gallons of water to 155F in The Grainfather, adding salts and Brewtan B (1/8 tsp.)
  • Add seven pounds of the grain from the kit (double-crushed in my case)
  • Mash 60 minutes at 155F, stirring every few minutes
  • Lift out grain basket and allow to drain
  • Sparge with 1.5 gallons of RO water at room temp
  • When the dripping has pretty much stopped, dump the grain basket and put it back into The Grainfather
  • Add the second load of seven pounds of grain from the kit (double-crushed)
  • Mash 70 minutes at 155F, stirring every few minutes
  • Lift out the grain basket and allow to drain
  • Sparge with 1.5 gallons of RO water at room temp
  • When the dripping has pretty much stopped, dump the grain basket and put it back into The Grainfather
  • Add the last of the grain from the kit (double-crushed)
  • Mash 70 minutes at 155F, stirring every few minutes
  • Lift out the grain basket and allow to drain
  • Set the temperature control to 170F
  • Sparge with 1.5 gallons of RO water
  • When the dripping has pretty much stopped, dump the grain basket
  • Check to see that the wort level in the kettle is at least 5.4 gallons.  If not, add more RO water until you reach that level
  • Set The Grainfather controls to boil
At each stage of this mash, the sparge is both replacing the water soaked into the grain and adding a bit, so that each successive batch of grain will mash thinner than the one before. I had hoped this would increase the overall brew house efficiency for the batch, but it didn't.

Boil Schedule:
  • 60 minutes:  Add the rice syrup solids and stir in well, then add the two 3 HBU packs of hops
  • 20 minutes:  Add Brewtan B (1/4 tsp.)
  • 15 minutes:  Add Styrian Goldings hops, whirlfloc, and yeast nutrient capsule
  • 0 minutes:  Chill to room temp using The Grainfather's counter flow chiller
Fermentation Plan:
  • Note:  This is where I decided to veer off a little from the kit's instructions, I decided to split the back between two fermenters, putting 2.5 gallons in each and giving each half the yeast.  The purpose of this is to allow me to dose half the batch with a mix of oak chips that I hope will mimic the barrel aged version of Gulden Draak that the brewmasters release each year.
  • Both batches will free-rise without any temperature control, and both will be equipped with blow-off tubes because I've seen Wyeast 3787 go totally nuts and clog up airlocks in the past.
  • Batch 1 will be bottled as soon as final gravity is reached.
  • Batch 2 will be transferred to a clean and sanitized fermenter and dosed with a selection of oak chips, then allowed to age until it picks up a good oak flavor profile.  It will then be bottle conditioned.
Post-Brew Notes and Observations

07/18/2020:  Around 2pm I began collecting RO water, splitting up the grist into 7-pound loads, crushing it, and generally getting ready.  Once I had enough water to start the first mash, I put it in The Grainfather and began heating it to 155F.  Once the temperature exceeded 110F, I began adding the grain and stirring.  Once the temperature reached 155F, I started a one hour timer and began stirring the grain every few minutes to help with conversion.  When the timer was up, I set the grain basket atop the kettle and poured in the first 1.5 gallons of sparge water to batch sparge.  I left the kettle temperature setting at 155F.

When the grain basket had pretty much stopped dripping, I dumped it.  I noted the water level in the kettle for my records (~15L vs. the 14.9L I had expected) and placed the basket back inside The Grainfather.  Then I loaded in the next 7 pound increment of grain.  For the next 70 minutes, I stirred the grain every 5-10 minutes to help with conversion.  When the 70 minutes were up, I again lifted the grain basket out, poured in the sparge water, and waited for the dripping to pretty much stop.  Again, I left the kettle temperature at 155F.

Since this third mash was going to be much thinner than the other two, I decided to give it 90 minutes instead of the 60 I'd used before, to help get as much conversion as I could from the grain.  As before, I stirred the grain every 5-10 minutes through the mash until the time was up.  Then as before, I sparged with 1.5 gallons of water and waited for the dripping to pretty much stop.  I dumped the grain, noted the water level in the kettle again, checking against the needed 5.4 gallon pre-boil volume.

I stirred in the Rice Syrup Solids at the start of the boil, then followed the boil schedule as noted in the recipe above.  When brew was over, I pumped half the wort into one fermenter, half into another.  I dropped a Tilt Hydrometer into each one so that I could track the gravity.

Pre-boil gravity was much lower than expected (1.068 SG) so I added Pale Ale DME to the kettle until the gravity had increased to the expected figure.

I then disposed of the grain, cleaned up The Grainfather, other equipment, and the brewing area itself.

The bottom of The Grainfather kettle had a burnt section of wort on the area where the heating element is.  I rinsed the kettle and counter flow chiller well and ran hot PBW solution through them.  I plan to let the PBW soak overnight and scrub the gunk out of the kettle tomorrow, then rinse everything well.

The wort temperature was reading 83F-86F in the two fermenters.  That's outside the yeast's optimal range, but after spending almost 10 hours brewing this beer, I decided to take that risk.

Brew house efficiency on this batch was a very disappointing 63%, and that doesn't factor in the added dry malt extract (DME) used pre-boil to get the gravity where I needed it.  I'd been trying to adjust my grain mill's crush to do a better job, but when I got it beyond a certain point all it did was jam.  I can't say I am particularly pleased with the motorization kit Williams Brewing sold me for the 3-roller Monster Mill.  It doesn't seem to have the power it needs unless you're only lightly crushing the grain.

07/20/2020:  The gravity in one fermenter is down to 1.060 SG, and the other is down to 1.071 SG.  Both are currently at 75F.

07/21/2020:  The gravity in one fermenter is now 1.047 SG and the other is 1.052.

07/22/2020:  The gravity in one fermenter is now 1.034 SG and the other is 1.035.  Looking at both fermenters visually, it's clear that the krausen is pretty much gone now and the yeast is starting to go dormant.  

07/24/2020:  1.029 SG and 1.030 SG today.

07/26/2020:  1.028 and 1.030 SG today.

07/27/2020:  Still holding at 1.028 and 1.030.  I suspect it's time to dose one of the two with barrel chips.

07/28/2020:  Since gravity has held for three days, I decided to dose one of the fermenters with a one ounce 50/50 mix of whiskey barrel and brandy barrel chips and give them a few days.  I hope to get the other batch bottled soon.  Since that one was reading two gravity points higher, I swirled the fermenter well to make sure the yeast is really, really done with it.

08/01/2020:  Both the oaked and on-oaked versions of the beer were bottled with three carbonation tablets per bottle.

08/08/2020:  A bottle of each version was chilled and opened for tasting.  Unfortunately it had not carbonated. The beer was decent, even without the carbonation, but not great due to being flat.

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