Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dark Strong Funky Belgian Ale with Spices

I've been intrigued by the Dark Funky Saison recipes that Mike over at The Mad Fermentationist has posted annually over the past few years. With a couple sour beer buckets free, I decided spur of the moment to try making one of them on Sunday. My friend Jim just happened to be brewing a decocted German pils, so I headed over to his place with my brewing gear and set up shop to brew together.

Mike's post was for a 15 gallon batch done as a group brew, so I scaled everything down a bit. I also made a few other changes. I got rid of the light extract, but I added 1# of D2 dark candi syrup. I also didn't have a spare bottle of red wine handy, so after chopping up my dates and caramelizing them in a tiny bit of wort, I deglazed them with more wort, then added the entire mixture into the boil. Since the recipe used under an ounce of hops, I just transferred everything, dates and all, into the primary. I figure it'll just be a bit of extra food for the bugs. I did up the hops a bit, but not terribly much. Since Mike mentioned the black cardamom he used was a bit strong, I didn't lower the spice amount, but I did increase the hops to balance it a bit more. We'll see how that works out. It's only a few IBUs difference anyway.

I also used different yeast. Mike used WY 3711 French Saison (one of my favorite strains.) Our LHBS has a tendency to have some pretty old yeast sometimes, and the newest saison strain of any type that they had in was almost a year old, with several from '09 even. . . I don't like using old yeast like that even in a starter in most cases, but especially since I was brewing on short notice, I wasn't about to pitch an old pack. Nor did I have time to drive up to Northern Brewer for fresh yeast. Luckily, they had a pack of T-58 dry yeast left, so I picked that up in place of the 3711. While it isn't a saison yeast per se, I've been curious to try T-58 for awhile and this seemed like a good opportunity. With sour dregs and spices getting added, the base yeast should be less exposed anyway.

I also subbed a couple specialty malts for things I had on hand.

The recipe I used was as follows:

Dark Strong Funky Belgian with Spices
brewed on: 1/16/11
OG: 1.098
IBUs: 20 IBUs
mash temp: 154F
expected color: 31.5 SRM

13 lb Belgian Pils Malt

11 oz CaraMunich II
6.5 oz Carastan
6.5 oz Special B
5.5 oz Pale Chocolate
4.5 Coffee Malt
4.5 US Crystal 90L
2.25 oz Carapils
2.25 oz Carafa II
2.25 oz Flaked Wheat


1 lb D2 Dark Belgian Candi Syrup - 60 minutes
7oz chopped Dates, caramelized in a pan, deglazed with wort - 60 minutes
1g Black Cardamom seeds, ground - 2 minutes

Hops (loose pellets):
0.7 oz Amarillo @ 9.1% - 60 minutes


Dregs (in primary):
Drei Fonteinen Oude Gueuze
De Dolle Oerbier
Jolly Pumpkin Bam

I was expecting about 1.088 OG, but that was without taking the dates into account. They upped the gravity significantly! This is apparently a winter of strong beer brewing for me with a strong old ale, English barleywine, and this Dark Strong Belgian. I may even do one more barleywine yet this winter since the one I brewed is destined for our group red wine barrel.

2/21/11 - SG @ 1.022 Dark brown and very opaque. Not much sourness yet. Cardamom is present but not too overpowering. A bit boozy, but more warming than distracting. Very mild raisiny background. Should be interesting with age.

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