I brewed my Belgian Dubbel on the 15 of August and got around to bottling it on Wednesday the 26th. All of the fermentation was complete and the beer just smelled wonderful. This is the first beer I have bottled in the new digs so it was a bit of guess and check to find the proper routine. I did eventually find something that worked for me. I also happened to use a lot of new products when I bottled this time.
I started off by putting 5 gallons of water into my bottling bucket. I then added the correct amount of Iodophor Sanitizer. This is the second beer that I have used this stuff on. The first one would be the Tripel. I also tossed a bunch of bottles into the bucket to get them sanitized. After a minute or so (I actually left them in for 5 just to be safe) I pulled them out and put them on the dishwasher rack. Then I put a new round of bottles in and repeated the steps. Finally I threw in my auto-siphon, hose, and bottle filler. I poured a gallon and a half of the sanitizer solution into a smaller bucket just so I had some on hand.
I then got the beer out of the closet and started transferring it to the bottling bucket. In all it took about 5 minutes to transfer all of the beer over. Once transferred, I put the bottling bucket on the counter with the bottle filler handing over the edge. Grabbing my bottles I put carbonation drops into them. This is the first time I have used these and I am anxious to see the results. The package said put 3 for low carbonation, 4 for regular carbonation, and 5 for high carbonation. These drops are made up of corn sugar, heading powder, and a few other ingredients. I opted for 4 tabs, mainly because I want to get the Tripel done from the same packet.
So now the beer is being carbonated and should be ready to drink by next weekend. The final beer came out to 5.9% which falls .1 points away from the minimum alcohol percentage for the style. Do I care? Not really, they are just guidelines. I am pretty happy with it. If Austin Homebrew Supply hadn’t shorted me the 1/2 pound of grain, I would of easily fallen into the correct range. A review of the beer should be coming once it is ready to drink. I already like it raw, I can’t wait to drink it carbonated.
Last Saturday around the time of this post I had a chance to brew my Belgian Dubbel. The wife went to see the Time Travelers Wife, which gave me a few hours of time to brew. The whole idea behind the beer was to save some money on yeast and have another Belgian style beer on-hand since I’m really digging Belgian beers right now, so is the wife. I ordered from Austin Homebrew Supply again and followed the ingredients that I had originally set-out on using. I didn’t order a half pound of wheat malt from them becasue I already had a pound on hand. One problem, they shorted me a half pound of Belgian Pale malt. Crap.
I decided to go on with brewing anyway and get that half pound reimbursed at another time. I threw all of the grain into the mash tun and heated my strike water to 165ºF. Being that I roughly had 6.5 lbs of grain and wanted to keep a water to grain ratio of 1.25 quarts per pound the 2 gallons of water reached that temperature very quickly. I then let it all sit there for an hour and again, it only dropped 2ºF from 152ºF to 150ºF in that hour. I’m really happy with my new mash tun.
On my last brew, I had a terrible efficiency, so I wanted to fix that up a bit. I collected my first runnings and threw it back on top of the grain and collected it again. My thinking was that the water was still hot and I could grab some extra sugar. I heated up another two gallons of water to 180ºF for the second and third runnings. On both I let them sit in the mash tun for 10 minutes. By the end I had collected 3.5 gallons of wort for the boil.
I did my 60 minute boil using .5 oz of Styrian Goldings hops and 1 oz of Saaz hops for 15 minutes. I also threw in some Irish Moss to try and help clarity. Why I didn’t do this for the Tripel is still a good question. I cooled down the wort and pitched it on top of the yeast cake from the Tripel as that is now in a carboy.
I was shooting for a gravity of 1.062 but actually got 1.053. It was better than the Tripel but still pretty poor. Only 65% or so. I’m not sure if the problem is coming my mash, the water, or how Austin Homebrew Supply is crushing the grain. I’m inclined to lean towards the latter after talking to some people my the local homebrew club. Maybe new brew I will borrow on of their grain mills.
This brew marks my first experience with Belgian candy sugar as well. I used a dark variety of it. I was a bit concerned about scorching, but during the wait time with the second and third runnings I dumped all of it (1/2 lb) into the boil kettle and stirred like a madman. The kettle was sitting on the floor under the mash tun. The liquid was still hot and it dissolved pretty quickly. No scorching at all! I’ll have a few updates on both of my beers soon.