Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Belgian Base to Play With

One of the things that makes brewing sour beers harder than Saccro styles is the time factor.  It's a little scary thinking that the beer that you're brewing one day won't be right (or even palatable) for years to come.  My experiences with aging meads and barleywines have been successful in the past, but I always just bottled them and set them aside.  The sours take up carboy space and that's harder to get comfortable with.

I've always been a big believer in planning far ahead and making beer in excess (for all the right reasons). I've gotten into the habit of thinking about my next beer immediately after I finish a brew day.  So I spent some time thinking about some possible base recipes for my next sour beer and decided to borrow the Belgian Pale Ale recipe shared by Jeff at Bikes, Beer and Adventures.  I made some minor adjustments, using a different yeast strain and changing up the grain bill a bit.  I still have so much to learn about brewing sours that it seemed like a good way to go.  Jeff uses it with some apparent success and I'm hoping to do the same.

I scaled the recipe up to seven gallons so that I would have 5 gallons in a traditional carboy and another two gallons for dregs beers (#3 and #4), like before.  The brew day went smoothly, with Lewy helping out (and ditching work) as has become customary.  I mashed at 152 degrees F for a solid hour and ended up hitting my gravity and volumes perfectly and was really happy with the color as it came out of the chiller.  Here's what I plan to do with the wort:

Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueze and Orval bottle dregs
5 Gallons

Pitch Antwerp Ale Yeast (WLP510) and then consider dosing with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis at some point during secondary fermentation or when conditioning.  The amount of time that it ends up aging depends on how I use the Brett, I suppose.

Dregs #3

Pitch the bottle dregs from a 350 ml bottle of Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueze and let it ferment out and age for as long as necessary (whatever that means-I don't really know yet). 

Dregs #4

Pitch the bottle dregs from a 350 ml bottle of Orval and do the same as above.

Regardless and perhaps in spite of the outcome, the experiment continues.  Waiting is an exercise in patience and patience is a virtue, right?  I never really saw myself as particularly virtuous, but I'm happy to wait. 



  1. Awesome. It is pretty cool that you guys are experimenting.

    I told Daniel that after the holidays, I'll have to have you guys over to taste some of my experiments. Actually, my Belgian Pale Ale with Achouffe dregs is one of the best Belgian beers I've made.

    It gets much easier to wait once you get a nice beer pipeline going. I think I have about 10 or 12 1 gal experiments, so now I have a new beer every month.

    How was the activity on the dreg beers?

  2. Great blog!, I would love to see the results of this experiment. I want to try a similar experiment as well.


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