Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Brewday: Double Batch - Chanterelle Belgian Blonde / Seattle-Belgique

Vacation, while fun, did put a ripple in the ol' beer production line. Time to get brewing again!

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%
SRM: 6
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
NOTE: the 5 adjunct malts were because of last minute substitutions and my not wanting to go to the store. If I had my way I'd use either 1lb Carapils or Wheat (building a little body and head retention), and either 1 lb Aromatic or Munich (adding a little color and maltiness).

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
This should create a nice background level of minerals, with a 1:1 chloride and sulfate ratio and RA fit for a 4-9 SRM beer. If I was just doing one or the other, I'd tweak this to balance toward chloride for the Chanterelle beer and sulfate for the IPA.

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.
Now comes the crafty bit. If you're capable of cooling less than the whole batch, run 5.25 gallons off through your chiller. That's the basic Blonde. Now bring the remaining volume back for 10 minutes more of really intense boil. From here on out you could add spices, more sugar, fruit, or as I did, hops:
  • 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)
Then cool this second half as your IPA. Oxygenated both and pitched a packet of Saf-T58 dry Belgian yeast, properly rehydrated in a cup with some warm water, GoFerm, and yeast nutrient a half hour before pitching. Try to start them off at 66 degrees or so and then let them climb (within reason). I had some chilling issues due to warm ground water and probably pitched a bit higher. Just don't pitch the yeast at 80 or you'll have a world of nasty phenols and fusel alcohols.

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.


Post a Comment