In Miami I always brewed Belgians in the late Summer, early Fall. The reason being that we airconditioned our house down to 80 and there was always a chance that a hurricane could swoop in and we'd lose power for an indefinite period. I'd start them off in my chill-chest, it's best to start Belgians off in the mid-60's and let them climb on their own, but due to space issues they'd secondary at room temp. So I brewed things that could take the heat: Saisons and big Belgians. Starting with a Blonde or a Dubbel, by brewing back to back I could repitch the yeast four times or so, growing an impressive yeast cake before the final brew of the season, a big, Belgian Strong Dark. Remember, in Belgian beers attenuation is king. Keep your yeast happy and plentiful, then let them do their job, or you'll end up with cloyingly sweet beer.
Here I don't have to worry about hurricanes or 80 degree houses. My place is 66 right now, which is just about perfect for an ambient temp ferment. Jumping on the chance of a nice, sunny day I decided to brew a double batch to make up for a month of non-brewing. By a bit of crafty use of the kettle, I was able to brew two very different beers from the same mash.
The first beer was designed to be a very typical Belgian Blonde. Now, normally my rule with Belgians is: start with a good base recipe, then mess with one thing. Mix it up, get creative, but if you tweak too many things you can end up with off-balanced chaos. Typically the easiest way to do this is just to play with the sugar, which should constitute at 10-20% of your fermentables.
But for this beer I wanted just a plain nice Blonde, because it is going to be this year's Chanterelle Mushroom beer. Last year I brewed a Chanterelle Golden that turned out pretty great, even taking Best in Show at last years' Cascade Brewer's Cup. Recently popped a bottle and as it aged it has taken on strange, saisony characteristics. Strange, but still good.
Nevertheless it has some flaws, some imbalances, and so I'm tweaking it a bit. I want the beer to be clearer, lighter, and more straightforward so that the Chanterelles will really come to the forefront. Now if I can just find some freaking Chanterelles... We went up to the North Cascades last weekend and managed to find a few tiny button sized Chanties. They're still a week or two out. At least I hope so. I don't want to have to buy them at the $17/lb they commanding in the market right now.
On the day of brewing I decided to double the recipe and pull a second beer out of my hat. A Northwest IPA / Blonde that I'm code-naming Seattle-Belgique. It's in the vein of New Belgium's Belgo IPA and Stone's Cali-Belgique; a Northwest IPA, but blond-yellow and with spicy Belgian yeast character. Maybe I can finally break my streak of mediocre IPAs? Due to the last minute decision to double the recipe I had to make a few substitutions. See the note below.
Chanterelle Blonde / Seattle-Belgique Double Brew
10.5 gallons, All Grain, 70% efficiency
Est. O.G. 1.068. Act. O.G. 1.067 for the Chanterelle, 1.070 for the IPA.
Est. F.G. hoping for 1.012-1.014
ABV estimates: 7%-7.5%
IBU: Chanterelle = 26, IPA = 48 IBU
- 20 lbs US 2-Row (could try US Pilsner or Continental Pils too)
- 8 oz CaraPils
- 8 oz Wheat Malt
- 8 oz MFB Special Aromatic
- 8 oz Munich
- 8 oz Honey Malt
Mash in at 150, mash out at 163.
Water modifications (Seattle-Tolt water):
- Mash: 1 tsp Chalk, 1/4 t gypsum, 1/2 CaCl2, 1/2 Epsom salts, 1/4 salt
- Boil: 1 1/4 tsp chalk, 1/4 t gypsum, 3/4 CaCl2, 1/2 Epsom salts
Collected 12 gallons for the boil. Added another 1.8 gallons of water about half an hour in once boilover danger had passed.
90 minute boil:
- 1 oz Magnum (leaf) @ 15%AA @ First Wort Hop
- 2 whirlfloc tabs and 2 t yeast nutrient at 15 min remaining
- Add 4 lbs Invert Sugar at 10 min. (Note: don't buy it (Lyle's Golden Syrup) and don't waste your money on "Clear Belgian Candi Sugar". Make your own, invert sugar is easy and cheap. Or just add table sugar right into the boil if you're lazy.)
- 1 oz Willamette (pellet) @ 6% AA @ 5 min remaining.
- 1 oz Cascade @ 10
- 1 oz Centennial @ 10
- 1 oz Cascade @ 1
- 1 oz Centennial @ 1 min remaining.
- 1 oz Willamette (dry hop - 5 days)
Beers are fermenting away in the basement at 66 ambient (certainly a couple degrees warmer inside the carboys.) Two week primary, and the IPA will get a 5 day dry-hopping of Willamette at the end of its primary. Then rack and into the lager fridge for two weeks' cold conditioning at 36. Then bottling in corked Belgian bottles, bottle conditioned to about 3.5 volumes co2 with a fresh hit of yeast. The BJCP says 1.9 to 2.4 volumes, but that's BS. They just don't want bottle bombs, which, having experienced them while judging, I can understand. Just remember: thicker, bigger bottles if you're going over 3 volumes.
Assuming I forage/buy Chanterelles in the next two weeks or so I'll take 1 lb of the mushrooms, chop them up fine, cover with vodka in a mason jar, and stash somewhere quiet for two weeks. Then add the mushroom schnapps to taste at bottling.