Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Quad has arrived!

Well, here we are. I brewed my first Belgian style beer. So far everything is going swimmingly, I had a fast start on the starter and then a fast start on fermentation. So as long as we don't stall out, everything should be good.

Going into this beer I had a plan. I did a lighter malt base color-wise and I am relying a lot on caramelized wort, piloncillo (Mexican sugar, usually sold in a cone shape) and a mix of dried currants and golden raisins for the color. These things will also add some of the subtle nuances that you expect from a Quad. I caramelized it into the candy making stage and hit what you would call "hard ball" stage. This would allow for more liquid to be reduced out while also darkening the sugar. I decided on this method for another reason, and that was cost. To buy Belgian candy sugar, which is regular sugar cooked to varying degrees of darkness, is expensive. This way I had total control over color and flavour while saving a few pennies.

At the end of the brew day I exceeded my numbers and am now waiting on the yeast to do it's job. I will let it stay at about 70 degrees for the next couple days and the raise it to about 82. Without doing that I could miss on all of those wonderful flavours that Belgian yeasts are known for. I am looking towards trying this beer in a couple months when it is ready.

~As always, keep evolving.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My first Belgian.

So I am finally delving into Belgians! I have talked about doing this for a while, but I just haven't gotten around to it. Luckily we have a local comp coming up and they picked a Quad as a style. Now, technically Belgian Quadrupels don't really have a classification. They don't have their own BJCP style subset so there is always some discussion as to what makes a good Quad. To me this is why this will be fun, as there is room for interpretation.

Quads have a wide range of flavours but they are all complimentary, raisin, fig, date, plum, wine-like characteristics...too me I hear the catch all "rum like" qualities when I think about it. Now Belgian beers are known to use an adjunct sugar of some sort to help achieve some of these flavours, usually a Belgian candy sugar, of varying degrees of darkness. The darker it is the more rich flavours you get. The sugar is good for a few things, flavour, alcohol and it can dry the beer out keeping it from being to cloyingly sweet. (Regular sugar is 100% fermentable, as long as the yeast holds up) Seeings how it is really expensive to buy this sugar I am making my own from Piloncillo, some of the runoff from the brewday, and caramelized raisins. Anyways, I am doing my starter today and as the brewday progresses tomorrow I'll put updates up about my exact process.

You should start seeing more from me like this as I want everyone to be a part of the brewery as we move forward. Thanks for reading and keep evolving!