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Preseason Belgian Pale Ale

There’s a brewery in Billings, MT that makes my favorite Belgian Pale Ale.  It may or may not be true to style, but I am obsessed with it.  This love led me to want to see how close I could get in a beer of my own.  I love Belgians, but I’d never made one.  It seemed like the time to try it out.

I like a sweeter, maltier Belgian more than the dry, thin ones.  I crafted my recipe with that intention.  Other than that, I didn’t have a clue…

The name comes from when this beer was to be enjoyed, just before football season.  (Go Bobcats!)

All-Grain Recipe: Preseason Belgian Pale

Ingredients:

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  • 4.5 lbs. – Belgian Pale
  • 3.5 lbs. – Belgian Munich
  • 1.5 lbs. – Belgian Aromatic
  • .6 lbs. – Belgian Caravienne

Hop Additions / Boil Additions:

  • 1 oz. – Norther Brewer (8%) – added during boil, boiled 60 min
  • 1 Whirlfloc Tablet – added during boil, boiled 15 min
  • 1 oz. – Saaz (5%) – added during boil, boiled 10 min
  • 1 oz. – Saaz (5%) – added end of boil, at flame-out

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Yeast:

  • WYeast 1581 Belgian Porter.  Dead Yeast
  • WYeast 1388 Belgian Strong Ale – used 2 days later.

Additional Details / Notes

  • OG 1.065 / TG 1.016
  • 6.4% ABV | Color: 13.76 °SRM | 38 IBU’s
  • Brewed 07/07/12, Secondary 07/28/12, Kegged & Bottled 08/05/12
  • Mash Temp: ~152°, Thickness: 1.35 qt/g, Efficiency 92%

Brewing the Belgian Pale Ale

belgian-pale-ale-01This was the second batch after moving, so things went decently smooth.

The Mash.  Called for 3.4 gal. of strike water at 164°.  I got the water a little too warm, but used it anyway.  Had to cool with ice, but got the temp to about 153°.  I let this sit for an hour, recirculated 3 gallons, then started the sparge.  Used about 5 gallons of sparge water at 170°, tried to sparge for about an hour.

The Boil. I tried something new for the boil on this one.  I trained the mash tun in to a pitcher, then started the boil after the first gallon of wort was drained off.  This enabled me to cut some time by getting it under a flame sooner.  Just used low heat, not trying to boil.

Not many hop additions on this one.  Added the Wort Chiller and Whirlfloc with 15 minutes left in the boil.

Cooling. Summertime cooling takes a bit.  This was about 45 minutes.

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Fermenting. Strained the wort in to the fermenter, then pumped in about 30 seconds of Oxygen.  Next I added the first round of yeast.  I say the first round, as this yeast packet was DOA.  The first indication was when the yeast packet didn’t inflate at all over the course of the day.  I didn’t have a backup, so I pitched it anyway.

Two days later, I purchased a new smack pack of yeast.  I wasn’t able to get the same stuff, so I went with the closest thing I could get.  The new yeast was rolling quickly.

I started with the ferm fridge at about 60°, so this batch fermented around 65°.  I brought that up to about 68 after the first few days.  Total fermentation was 2 weeks.

Racking to Secondary & Kegging. Waited 3 weeks to get to the secondary.  Bottled and Kegged 2 weeks later.  Half bottles, half kegged.

Drinking the Preseason Belgian Pale Ale

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Right out of the gate, this beer was way too sweet.  My grain choices didn’t really make for the base I was hoping for.  I wanted a heavier body, but not so much sweetness.  The Belgian yeast was also very downplayed at first.  Not terrible, but not something where you really want a second round.

Over time things got better.  I didn’t have a backlog of beer, so I forced myself to enjoy this beer.  Toward the tail end of it’s run, the beer actually got kind of good.  The sweetness faded in lieu of a little more dryness, which balanced things much better, and complimented it’s Belgian yeast a little bit better.

Overall:  Not a success, but not really a failure.  Not one to repeat, though.

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