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Quirky Belgium

As a caveat I have never brewed a Belgium beer before and I didn’t do any research on them before I started this. I wanted to make a dark ale for my nitro system. So I find this recipe for Strong Belgium Dark Ale and think this sounds good. As I’m prone to do I whip up a 3 gallon batch for a first time brew my OG was 1.089. I used Wyeast 1762 Belgium Abbey II with a starter. I soon realize this is a great beer so I do the research and throw the idea for putting it on nitro right out the window. Yesterday I noticed there was zero action in the fermentation so I shoot a gravity and it’s 11.6 brix corrected to 1.020 which is a bullseye for FG and the ABV showed 9.14%. I rack into another carboy and drop the fermentor temp to 65 and throw it in to age for a couple of month. I get up this morning and it has a beautiful krausen and party going on in the airlock. So should I be worried? My idea was to condition it for a couple of months and keg it then force carbonate it to 3.5 to 4 volumes while it ages until Christmas. Is this variable plan for this kind of beer?

Thanks.
Paul

Either your hydrometer reading was off or the yeast did read anything about stopping at 1.020. Stable hydrometer readings over a few days will tell you when fermentation is complete. Racking the beer stirred the yeast into activity. You lucked out, there may be sufficient yeast to finish the fermentation.

By evening all activity had stopped and this morning the krausen was almost gone.

Take a hydrometer reading in a few days. Take another reading two days afterwards. This will be the only way to tell where your beer is at. If both readings are the same fermentation is complete. Compare how your hydrometer samples taste.

Many of these beers finish at below 1/4 gravity. I brewed a tripel last year that started at 1.083 and finished at 1.000 with Wy 530 yeast. That is right at 10.5%. It is a little warming, but has done well in competitions (2nd place in Dallas and our local competition.) It is very smooth now that it is a year old. I want to enter it in the Houston competition, but I just have a few bottles left, and I want to drink them. Your beer should be fine unless you picked up some Brettanomyces.

Did you add sugar? That is almost always part of the recipe for strong Belgian ales, and it really tends to make the FG drop lower than you would expect for a beer of that strength.

I did add sugar to the tripel. I think we used 4 Lbs of white sugar in a 10 gallon batch. I also used another 1/4 Lb in 4 gallons at bottling. I have had some all grain beers finish that low, but they were not as strong. I have had a 1.070 gravity saison finish at 1.004 with WLP 565. Most of my saison and blonds start at 1.052-4, and I don’t use sugar on those except at bottling. They regularly finish at 1.002-6. I make a lot more of the low gravity stuff since it is more drinkable on a daily basis. I think 1.020 is still too sweet even though you finished at 1/4 gravity. You could raise the temp into the low 80s for a few days after your beer has fermented for a week or so at regular ale temps to help it finish out.

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