Pints for Prostates

Friday, August 3, 2012

Belgian Pale Ale

I was planning on brewing on Sunday. For me and my family schedule, Sunday is a good day to fill the kitchen with brewing equipment, turn on music, and boil water/wort.

However, this Sunday I just wasn't feeling it. Brewing requires a lot of physical and mental energy and approximately five, contiguous hours of time. I was tired. I wanted to sit in the sun and read. I figured that if I pushed myself to brew I would not enjoy it as much, and I don't want to risk associating a poor experience with a hobby that I enjoy.

Arguably, it's possible that I could have started to brew and found myself enjoying the act of measuring grain to mill, stirring the resulting grist in the mash tun, or the pungent aroma of the first, bittering addition of hops to the rolling boil of brown wort.
UK Kent Goldings

...Not only is it possible, it's likely.

But there are other days to brew.  I ended up brewing on Tuesday (2012-07-31) after work. I knew that with some time to listen to a couple episodes of brewing podcasts (e.g., Basic Brewing Radio, Brewing Network's Sunday Session), calculate mash water volume and temperature, and determine mineral additions for the water, I would be eager to get home on Tuesday and brew. I was.

This time, I brewed a Belgian Pale Ale. The recipe is from Jamil Zainasheff's book, Brewing Classic Styles.  I followed his Antwerp Afternoon recipe, with minor deviations. My version is as follows:

11.3 lbs. German Pilsner malt
.75 oz. CaraMunich malt
4 oz. Belgian Biscuit malt

5 ml of Lactic Acid to mash
2 g of Calcium Chloride to mash
4 g of Epsom Salt to mash
2 g of Baking Soda to mash

1.3 oz. UK Kent Goldings @ 60 min.
1/2 tablet of Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
.25 teaspoon of yeast nutrient @ 15 min.
.7 oz. UK  Kent Goldings @ 0 min.

2 vials of White Labs WLP500 Belgian Ale yeast

1 oz. UK Kent Goldings dry hop in keg 

WLP500 Belgian Ale Yeast
If you have the book you can follow along with me. I am working my way through his Belgian and French Ale chapter. I brewed a Witbier at the beginning of July. I brewed a Belgian Pale Ale on Tuesday. Next, I will brew a Saison. I might brew a Biere De Garde too, we'll see. We can dub this the "Belgian Summer." It's also a means to use the large sack of German Pilsner base malt I have in the basement.

How did this get to be the summer of Belgian beers?

The Witbier was definitely for Kim. She likes the style and I wanted to make a beer that would have her sneaking downstairs to draw from the keg each evening. I have not written a review yet because, at this point, the beer is a bit green. I'm hoping the harsh flavors mellow and that the overall flavor improves. It's certainly drinkable, but not great.

I think the pint of BPA I had at Ommegang inspired this beer. I think that beer is fantastic. Besides, I have brewed a couple American Pale Ales already. Why not compare the brewing experiences and beer styles?

As I understand it, Saisons can be herbal, hoppy, and tangy. The style is supposed to be quite flavorful and a good pairing for many foods. It is a good base beer with which to experiment with herb and fruit additions. I would like to learn more about Saisons, both by reading about the style and by tasting more examples.

If I brew the Biere De Garde, I think the strong, malty profile will make for a good winter beer (the beer needs to be lagered for three months). As you can tell, I'm not sure I will brew it. I might find myself really wanting to make an IPA by then. 

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