Brew Day: Belgian Golden Strong (Beer #27)

December 12, 2011 by Jack

I brewed yesterday. Belgian Golden Strong. The recipe came from Brewing Classic Styles. (What else is new?) Everything went reasonably well. The recipe was simple: 11 lbs of Belgian Pilsner malt – mashed at a low temp to create a fermentable wort – plus three pounds of table sugar to make it even more fermentable. My water profile isn’t too well suited to mashing such a simple grain bill with no darker malt, so getting the mash pH down was a task. I used Bru’n Water to help me figure out how to adjust my water using salts. It took a healthy dose of Gypsum and Calcium Chloride to get the Calcium levels up high enough reduce the buffering capacity of the bicarbonate in my municipal water that would keep the pH high. I was able to manage a mash pH of 5.5 which is on the high end of the acceptable range. I shouldn’t get astringency from this, but if this beer does turn out to be astringent I know where I can look to improve it.

For a style of beer that’s not known for having any hop character, there sure were a lot of hops in there:

The 5.5 gallon batch took 80g of Czech Saaz hops at 3.0% alpha acid. This beer style should be firmly bitter to offset the alcohol sweetness and fruity esters.

The rest of the boil, chilling, and pitching all went smoothly. Immersion chillers work much nicer in the wintertime when the ground water temperatures drop. In the summer I couldn’t chill below 75°F; yesterday I got to 64°F in 20 minutes. I forgot to add Irish Moss to the boil, but the wort still settled reasonably clear before I racked it to the carboy so no big deal.

24 hours after pitching and fermentation was well under way:

Temperature control is key for this style. The book calls for a rather precise temperature schedule that you can’t really accomplish without a ferementation chamber. I think dual-stage might even be necessary to follow the schedule (start at 64, go up by 2.6°F each day for a week). I’m sure you can make great Golden Strong ales without such precise control, but I am very happy to have the franken-freezer right now.

The beer should be ready to start drinking in late January. Kind of a long wait, so hopefully it’s worth it…

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