Friday, August 23, 2013

The 30th Homebrew

Brewed at Buster's Bistro as part of the Brew Club of
Seminole County's first Group Brew Day, Aug 17, 2013.
It was a hot August day.  It worked well, as I was able to
put the carboy into their Chiller Room, which brought
the temp down to a nice pitching temp by the time I
got home.  A few beer more, a failed attempt at the
Jenga Tournament victory, and a few hours of chill
time... upon arrival at the house it was perfect for
pitching (pitching the yeast, that is.)
With the 30th home brewed beer fermenting away like clockwork in the refrigerator next to me, I'm going to go out on a limb.  This will be an excellent beer!  This beer has all the promise in the world.  And rightly so!  Consideration, planning, smart techniques, temperature control, and a few strategic tricks will be some of the reasons why.

This is a Belgian Tripel, a first for me.  Some of the best Tripel recipes can be quite simple and this isn't too much different.  Pilsner malt as a base is the rule with Tripels, and Belgian Pilsner is even better.  Most recipes I've seen will have that and only one or two specialty grains (in small amounts), and up to 20% cane or candy sugar.

This one isn't too different.  The malt bill (for a 4 gallon batch) consist of 8 lbs. of Belgian Pilsner malt and 1 lb. of Maris Otter Malt.  The Maris Otter may be unconventional here.  Normally an Aromatic malt or something with more zip will be used, but in a much smaller quantity.  The Maris Otter should impart some flavor, a little color, and leave the beer with a little bit of body.

I'm looking for a smoothish Tripel, not a harsh one nor an overly spicy, controlled esters.  So, I'm monitoring the temperature and trying not to stress out the yeast, I've started fermentation only with the grains listed above.  Mashed at 149 F, give or take a degree of two.  The original gravity was at 1.061 (low for a Tripel, but hang with me here).  Fermentation started at 66 F and rose to 70F over the course of 48 hours.

I know, it's upside down.  I claiming artistic license on this.
At the 48 hour mark, I boiled 1 pound of Turbinado raw sugar.  Pure cane sugar, squeezed straight from the stalk and then dried.  Let's not let any of that processed sugar stuff get into this beer.  I was surprised at how dark this became as it dissolved and boiled.  I had it quite thick, not wanting to add too much water.  This was cooled and then added to the carboy for fermenting.  The simple sugars in the Tripel will ferment out, providing for a dry beer and adding a high alcohol content.

The cane sugar contains 46 gravity points, which basically means that in a gallon of water (1.000 gravity) a pound of cane sugar will raise the gravity to (1.046).  With these added fermentables going into my 4 gallon batch of beer, that 46 will get divided by 4, resulting in an additional amount of .0115 to the overall net gravity.  1.061 + .0115 = 1.0725.  This is getting closer to Tripel strength.  But that isn't all.

Turbinado Sugar boiling
With the cane sugar added at 48 hours, I had a pound of Belgian Beet sugar syrup yet to add.  This went straight to the carboy at 72 hours into fermentation.  I dialed down the temperature control, bringing it to 66 degrees again, just to keep it slow and steady.  Don't want those yeast getting too excited.  This ads 32 gravity points per gallon, adding an amount of .008 to the overall net gravity.  1.0725 + .008 = 1.0805.  This is exactly where we want to be for this Tripel.

The books will say to let the temperature raise as fermentation commences, so I'm again dialing up the temperature control and will bring it back to around 70 degrees and least that is the plan.

It will get transferred to secondary after a full week, the stay there for at least three more weeks before bottling.