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Belgian Blonde Recipe ideas

Hi all,

A friend of mine recently brewed a Belgian Blonde Ale shooting for a recipe like Leffe Blonde, based on Revvy’s recipe, see:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f71/revvys- ... ne-202852/

It appears there are many recipes similar to this one, which use Munich and Melanoidin (and wheat) malts in this beer. I started doing some research and am curious on thoughts about the recipe for this. If I were a Belgian trying to make a strong pilsner-like low hopped yellow beer, I would probably use Pilsner malt, aromatic and maybe something like carahell (if it needs more grain flavor) and acidulated (to adjust pH). But I wouldn’t add Munich or Melanoidin malts, and if I mashed properly, wouldn’t need wheat. And if I needed sugar to dry it out, I wouldn’t mash at 158F, I’d shoot for something lower like 148-150F.

Are those basically sound thoughts, or what am I missing? I’m trying to figure out the best approach to a light-colored strong Belgian ale with light hopping, and don’t see recipe using a high mash temp and the additional malts. I have been trying to make some fresh, tasty German lagers and keep simplifying my recipe and low mash temp to dry them out, and the same seems true here. So many folks seem to like that recipe, it’s in books, etc. But it seems like too much to me. On my trips to Germany, the yellow beers are really tasty, and they are very grainy flavorful tasting, but very light and so well balanced between malt, hops/floral, and very subtle yeasty flavor and some sulfur. Like you taste the essence of each of the ingredients, yet in perfect harmony with each other,and you can taste the process…e.g. sulfur flavor, but subtle like it was in there as part of fermentation, but has been lagered down in intensity. Munich and Melanoidin would just make them muddy and too complicated.

My experience with adding Munich, Vienna, and Meladnoidin to a Pilsner, for example, just muds it up. My most recent Pilsner, 91% Weyermann Pilsner malt, 7% Carahell, 2% Acidulated, mashed at 148F is the closest I’ve come so far and is really grainy tasty, with some pilsner sweetness to it, and nice light color. It’s only been lagering for a week, but is well on track to be very flavorful, despite the lack of extra malts.

I’d think a similar grain bill (at Maibock gravity) and mash temp, fermented with a Belgian ale yeast would make the Belgian equivalent.

Thoughts?

I have made a lot of Blonds. Leffe is probably not the most interesting. My first blond was a pils that I added 1/2 Lb of sugar to the fermenter. 5 gal. was fermented like a Pilsener at lager temps with lager yeast, and 5 gal. was fermented with WY 3787 at Belgian ale temps (start cool, let the temp rise over a few days.) The blond was very popular with friends so I kept brewing it as its own recipe. I have changed the recipe quite a bit since then, but here are some thoughts.

You could add up to 10% Munich if you like the color and smooth malt profile of Leffe. Don’t add aromatic or too much Munich or it will come out toasty and that clashes with the hop and yeast profile in my opinion. I use a blend of pils malt, and Maris Otter because I keep both around. The MO adds some color. Use your favorite noble hops if you like the German styles. Hallertau and or Saaz would be great. I like East Kent Goldings for some earthy bitterness and citrus, and Styrian Goldings for citrus flavor and aroma. 25-30 IBU is optimal. I like a lower gravity beer so I can drink it. I usually try to get 1.053-5 and the beer finishes out at 1.006-8. This gives you about a 6% beer. If you want it a bit stronger, you could add more malt. You don’t need to add sugar to dry it out Wy 3787 or 3522/WL 530 or 550 will ferment very dry. Use 3787/530 (Westmalle) if you plan to age the beer or 3522/550 if you plan to drink it quickly. Start the ferment at 65-68 for a couple of days, and then let it rise to 78 over the next few days. I always do at least a 10 day primary to make sure the beer finishes dry. Brew Like a Monk is a great book to learn about brewing Belgian style beers.

I basically use a pils recipe. No cara- malts, but I sometimes throw in 5-8% vienna or munich, just for graininess. Hop to 30-35 IBUs with Hallertau or Saaz. Ferment with Wyeast 3787 or similar trappist/abbey strain. Great summer beer. Note: this would not do great in a BJCP comp in the Belgian Blond category, which calls for a stronger (6-7.5% abv) beer with less hop character. I am basically shooting for something similar to Westvleteren Blonde.

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