Brewed Slowly: #17 Kitchen Sink Belgian Blonde

The last beer I made, about 2 weeks ago, was what we’ll call a kitchen sink beer. I had a smack pack of Irish Ale yeast and a bunch of different types of hops around the house, and I figured if I could just get some grain, I could throw it all together and make something maybe, possibly, just maybe possibly worth drinking. When we were in Birmingham for the beer festival, we stopped by the homebrew store and I explained my ingredient situation to one of the guys working there. He suggested using the Irish ale yeast, Saaz and Northdown hops, and some pilsner grain to make a basic Belgian blonde. Fantastic, all I needed was the pilsner grain. So I picked up 12 pounds of it and had a potential beer on my hands. (I was concerned somewhat about the pilsner grain’s level of modification (because I’m not yet comfortable with multiple step mashes), but the guy assured me it was fully modified (hope he was right).)

I don’t really know what to expect from the beer because it’s actually still in the primary. But it sounds good in theory. Hopefully light and malty with mild Saaz hop flavor.

Software:

12# Belgian Pilsner (2-row)

2 oz. 40L Crystal malt

28g Northdown hop pellets

28g Czech Saaz whole leaf hops

1 tsp Irish Moss

Wyeast Irish Ale starter

Process:

1. One-step mash of the grains at 152 F for 1 hour in 3.75 gallons of water.

2. Batch sparged with 4.25 gallons of water at 175 F. Vorlaufed and added to brewpot.

3. Added Northdown hops at boil.

4. Boiled for an hour.

5. Added Irish Moss with 15 minutes left in boil.

6. Added Saaz hops with 5 minutes left in boil.

what a setup for cooling wort

7. Cooled down the wort overnight and pitched the yeast starter the next day.*

*This has become pretty much my SOP with regard to yeast pitching. It’s probably not the safest way to pitch yeast because the wort sits around for so long, but so far (4 beers in) it’s worked. I either stop up the carboy with sanitized foil or a stopper and airlock overnight.

My 10 plate chiller just doesn’t quite bring down the boiling wort to the temp I need to pitch at (which this could be because of my brewing practices, I’m not completely sure–but I’m also not sure what I could do differently. Ideas?).

fermentation beneath an SDRE t-shirt

This beer was the first I’ve fermented with any kind of temp control system (see above). What amounts to putting a t-shirt on the carboy and sitting the whole thing in a tub of water is what I’ll say is my temp control system. Guess what. It works. (The t-shirt soaks up the water and cools the entire carboy.) This setup kept the wort down to about 68 F when it would easily have stayed around 75 F without the t-shirt. And also, you might have noticed (but you probably didn’t) the carboy rocking a circa 2000 Sunny Day Real Estate t-shirt–scored at an awesome July 2000 show at the House of Blues in New Orleans. The shirt’s always been a little big for me (uninteresting story), so I’ll let the carboy have the honor from now on.

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