Adventures in Homebrew: Belgian Triticale Pale

The recipe for a Belgian strong dark ale has been kicking around in the back of my cranium for a while now. Last week I decided to get the ball rolling and started culturing up a big pitch of Westmalle yeast. Instead of building a starter, I brewed a low ABV Belgian pale whose cake will be used for the BSDA.

Being a utility brew of sorts, I figured this would be a good opportunity to do some experimenting with ingredients. I decided to add some flaked triticale to the grainbill, a wheat-rye hybrid. I also worked up several different blends of spices that I thought would accentuate the spicy grain and phenolic Westmalle yeast. After making teas and sampling each blend I settled on a mixture of coriander, cardamom, chamomile and black pepper.

Belgian Triticale Pale

Batch Size: 4.5 gallons

Boil Volume: 5.5 gallons

6 lb (68.6%)

1 lb Dark Munich (20L) (11.4%)

1 lb Flaked Triticale (11.4%)

8 oz Honey Malt (5.7%)

4 oz Palm Sugar (2.9%)

1.0 oz Willamette (4.8 AA%) @ First Wort Hop

1.0 oz Willamette (4.8 AA%) @ 10

11 gm Coriander @ Flame Out

1 gm Chamomile @ Flame Out

1 gm Cardamom @ Flame Out

1.5 gm Black Pepper @ Flame Out

1 qt starter of Wyeast 3787 – Trappist High Gravity (Westmalle)

Estimated Efficiency: 68%

Estimated Attenuation 80%

Estimated OG: 1.048

Estimated FG: 1.010

Estimated ABV: 4.9%

Estimated IBU: 22

Estimated SRM: 7

Mash @ 152(F) for 1 hour

Ferment @ 66(F)

All spices were crushed coarsely and added at flame out. The beer was cooled quickly to 180(F) then left for 20 minutes while the spices steeped. I ended up overshooting my target volume, collecting 4.75 gallons of slightly lighter 1.044 wort.

When using the Westmalle strain, I like to hold the fermentation temperature at 66(F) for the first 3 days, then let it free rise until finished. I’ve found that this schedule allows the esters and phenols to develop, but keeps them from being harsh and overpowering. Unfortunately, this time around, the near freezing temperature of my garage cooled the beer far too quickly.

When I checked on the brew 12 hours after pitching, the temperature was down to 56(F). I moved the fermentor indoors and, over the next 48 hours, raised the temperature to 62(F). A krausen finally formed between days 2 and 3, but it was very thin and dense. On day 4 there were still no visible signs of airlock activity, so I took a hydrometer reading to get a better idea of what was going on inside the mysterious bucket. The gravity was down to 1.014, but the beer smelled strongly of sulphur. I have never had this issue before, but the Westmalle strain did throw a lot of sulphur on Jesse when he used it to ferment a batch of Apfel Wine.

Since 62(F) was the highest I could get the beer, I purchased a heating pad and used it to slowly raise the temperature to 72(F) over the next 4 days. Another reading on day 10, revealed that the beer had reached its target gravity of 1.010. And more importantly, the sulphur smell was completely gone.

Currently the chamomile is coming through a little strong, but I had the same issue with my Wit early on and the sharpness mellowed quickly. The rest of the spices are less easy to identify, adding subtle, almost perfumy complexity. The triticale is also subtle, contributing a light spiciness and grainy flavor to the beer. Although, as I’ve said before, I have a hard time picking up rye unless I am being beaten about the head with it. So, I may have to leave the final triticale opinions to those who possess a more properly tuned tongue than I.



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