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2021 Batch 13 - Belgian Dark Strong

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you're probably aware that I'm really fond of Belgian ales, especially the Belgian Dark Strong Ale.  A few weeks back, I purchased a large container of Briess Sparkling Amber liquid malt extract (LME) at a discount.  I wondered if this extract could be used to produce a reasonable Belgian Dark Strong Ale with a relatively short brew day.  This batch is my attempt to prove or disprove that theory.

Ingredients

6 pounds of Breiss CBW Sparkling Amber LME
16 ounces Crystal 80L malt
2 ounces Special B malt
12 ounces Brun Fonce candi sugar
0.5 ounces Hallertau Magnum @ 11.6%AA (FWH)
1.0 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 3.8% AA (5 min.)
1.0 ounces Czech Saaz @ 3.8% AA (5 min.)
1/2 tsp. Brewtan B (boil)
3/4 tsp. Irish Moss
1/2 tsp. Yeast Nutrients
Dublin Ohio tap water

According to Brewfather, the beer will have the following qualities:

  • Batch Size:  3.0 gallons
  • Original Gravity:  1.095 SG estimated (1.095 SG actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.024 SG estimated  
  • IBUs: 31 estimated
  • ABV: 10.6% estimated
  • BU/GU Ratio: 0.32

Brew schedule:

  • Heat 2.5 gallons of water to 150F
  • Add Special B and Crystal 80L malt inside muslin bags
  • Hold temperature at 150F for 20-30 minutes, then remove the grain
  • Turn off heat and gradually stir in the LME to dissolve it completely
  • Turn heat back on and add Hallertau Magnum as first wort hops
  • When a boil is reached, begin a 60-minute countdown
Boil schedule:
  • 60 minutes:  No addition (note Hallertau Magnum was already added)
  • 20 minutes:  Add Brewtan B
  • 15 minutes:  Add Irish Moss and Yeast Nutrient
  • 5 minutes:  Add Saaz and Hallertau Mittelfruh hops in muslin bags
Fermentation plan:
  • Wyeast 1726 (Belgian Abbey II Ale Yeast) prefers a temperature in the 65-75F range.
  • My plan is to begin fermentation at 70F and allow the yeast to free-rise until approximately 65-70% of fermentation has completed.  At that time, I'll increase the fermentation temp one degree per day until at the maximum temp of 75F.  I'll hold it there until fermentation is complete.
Post-Brew Observations and Notes

08/22/2021:  The brew day went off without a hitch.  I ended up with the expected original gravity and fermenter volume, with just a bit higher temperature.  I had to wait for the temperature to drop to approximately 70F before pitching the yeast.  The packet of 1762 yeast needed time to swell up anyway.

08/25/2021:  Unfortunately, the original package of 1762 yeast must have been dead, despite its November 2021 best-by date.  I had to purchase and add another today.  There are early indications that this new package is working, but it's too soon to tell yet.  I may have to resort to a dry yeast. (Not that I have anything against dry yeasts, but for this recipe I really wanted 1762.)

08/29/2021:  When I opened the fermenter earlier in the week to pitch dry yeast, I found mold growing on top of the wort.  I was too busy at the time to deal with dumping the batch and cleaning the fermenter, so I left it alone, knowing I'd need to go back later and do that.  In the meantime, it seems the 1762 yeast has come to life in side the beer, as the Tilt Hydrometer has been showing rapid drops in gravity consistent with yeast.  I'm planning to dump the fermenter and beer today, the clean the fermenter well.

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