Brew Day: Belgian Golden Strong & Tripel (Beers #47 & 48)

January 12, 2013 by Jack

About two weeks ago I brewed up a couple batches of Belgian Strong Ale – the Tripel & Golden Strong recipes from Brewing Classic Styles. This was my first go at a Tripel and second attempt at the Golden Strong recipe. The first one ended in tears. This time around things seem to have gone well.

Lots of Czech Saaz hops in the BGS.

To safeguard against stuck fermentations this time, I chose to hold off on adding the sugar until after most of the maltose was fermented. Both batches also got two minutes of pure O2 just prior to pitching the yeast and another minute eight hours later.

The Tripel is slightly orange, thanks to Aromatic malt.

The Golden Strong was fermented with WLP570 (the Duvel strain) in an attempt to copy the pear & white pepper flavors of that beer. I used the Westmalle strain – Wyeast 3787 – for the Tripel in an attempt to complex fruity and spicy nature of the original Tripel.

I was aiming for an OG of 1.072 for the BGS (including sugar) and hit 1.049 without the sugar. After factoring in what the sugar adds, I computed that I got 1.074. The Tripel was expected to come in at 1.083 (with sugar). I hit 1.060 with just the malt. After computing for the sugar additions, I get 1.083.

The sugar additions, ready for duty.

The BGS called for three pounds of table sugar. The Tripel required 2.5 pounds. So as not to overload the yeast, I wanted to add one half pound of sugar every 12 hours to each beer until it was all added. I did not want to add dry sugar to the fermentors because it wouldn’t dissolve. I also didn’t want to spend half an hour twice a day dissolving sugar in water on the stove top, so I chose to do it all at once and pressure-can it in eleven equal batches (six for the BGS, five for the Tripel). 5.5 pounds of sugar is about twelve cups. I dissolved it in eight cups of water to make a 3:2 semi-rich syrup. Pressure-canning ensured the solution was sterilized and could be kept for a few days.

Shows 1.001, but this hydrometer reads .004 low

Both beers finished up nice and dry. The 570 yeast is much less of a top-cropper than the 3787. The 3787 was blowing over into the catch bin after 24 hours whereas the 570 never grew more than about 2.5″ of krausen. 48 hours after pitching, both beers were at 1.022, so I began the sugar regimen. 60 hours later and the sugar had all been added. The BGS was at 1.005 (9.1% abv). The Tripel was still at 1.022. It was still actively fermenting, so I wasn’t too worried. Two days later it was at 1.014 and airlock activity had pretty much stopped. This is the high end of acceptable FG for the style and it tasted a little sweet to me, so I roused the yeast with a gentle stir and let it sit for a few more days. As of today it is at 1.008 (9.9% abv). Perfect.

Both beers are crash-cooling now and will be kegged next week. Due to the high abv, these beers will need some age to mellow out, but the gravity samples tasted OK. They’re hot, but not solventy or astringent. Here’s hoping they don’t suck!

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