Brew Day: Belgian Dark Strong (Beer #41)

October 22, 2012 by Jack

About three weeks ago a couple of friends hung out in my garage and we all brewed a batch of Belgian Dark Strong Ale. The weather was beautiful and we all had a good time. More importantly, we all made a batch of what we hope will be good beer. We were aiming for a starting gravity of 1.107, but all came in at 1.115! Big-ass beer. A different yeast strain was used for each one. I used WYeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity – the Westmalle strain. Another guy used White Labs WLP530 Abbey Ale – also the Westmalle strain, but isolated at a different time so is likely somewhat different. Finally, the third dude used WLP500 Trappist Ale Yeast.

Mine fermented like mad right off the bat:

But after a few days it slowed dramatically, and after three or four days it was chugging along slow and steady but had only dropped to 1.060. Through temperature ramping and yeast rousing via stirring I was able to eek out a final gravity of 1.030. The beer has since been crash-cooled and kegged and is now lagering, which it will do throughout the winter before it sees light in time for TRASH and NHC 2013 first round. If it’s good and not overly sweet, I will enter it in those competitions.

Last I heard, the WLP500 batch finished at 1.021 and the WLP530 batch, like mine, was around 1.030. The sample I tasted as I put mine away for the winter was promising – very “Belgian,” but not too much bubblegum or banana or any of that crap. It had loads of fig an dark dried fruit flavors, plus a good touch of spicy phenols. The 12% abv was strong and hot, but not solventy. My only concern was that it was too sweet. 1.030 is a high FG. We’ll just have to see how it ages out over a few months…

Here’s the bonkers recipe we followed for five gallon batches:

– 17 lb, 10.2 oz (8 kg) Weyermann Pilsner Malt
– 1 lb, 7.5 oz (.75 kg) Aromatic Malt
– 1 lb, 7.5 oz (.75 kg) Munich Malt
– 1 lb, 7.5 oz (.75 kg) Victory Malt
– 1 lb, 7.5 oz (.75 kg) Vienna Malt
– 12.3 oz (.35 kg) Belgian Special B
– 1 lb, 6.9 oz (.65 kg) Table Sugar
– 1 lb D-180 Belgian Candi Syrup
– 84 g German Hallertau Hops (4.0% AA) @ 60 min
– 28.3g Czech Saaz Hops (4.0% AA) @ 15 min

Mash at 152. The sugars were added for the last five minutes of the 90-minute boil.

Leave a Reply