September 18, 2015

Swordfight 3 Spiced Belgian Blonde

For a long time craft beer poisoned the well of spicing beers by relegating their use largely to pumpkin beers and overly spiced Belgian beers. That period where so many domestic takes on Belgian styles tasted of coriander and more coriander almost drove Belgian styles right out of the craft market. Even during that first wave of saison popularity every saison was coriander galore. The era of coriander drove me away from spicing my own homebrewing but I've realized after drinking quite a few spiced beers over the past year or so that I really enjoy what spices bring to the table when done appropriately. I've been thinking a lot about brewing a non-saison Belgian beer with some moderate spicing and I need a big pitch of Belgian yeast for another beer later this years so the time is right to get a lighter Belgian beer brewed with spices.

For this beer I opted to assemble hops, lemon peel, coriander and star anise around WY1214 for a complex mix of fruit and phenolic spice. The late addition hops will be a gentle dose of Belma hops to lay a soft melon character that I hope will meld the flavors together. Coriander is a good base for spicing Belgian beers and contributes a citrus element that the trappist/abbey yeast lack. The lemon peel is a different approach to the usual orange peel. I want the lemon to brighten up the coriander with a small amount of peel. The star anise is a way to add complexity to the phenolic character and help balance against these other fruity spice additions. As a whole none of the spices should overwhelm the yeast character or the beer as a whole.

My goal for this beer is to create a beer that is easy to drink and versatile to add fruit or sour while also having enough complexity to drink on its own. I will bottle part of this batch straight while the rest will go on plums. I might sour the plum portion. 

Spiced Belgian Blonde

Batch size: 2 gallons
Est. ABV: 4.7%
Est. IBU: 25
Est. SRM: 3.4
Est. OG: 1.046
Est. FG: 1.010

Grain Bill

3 lb. 8 oz. US Pale malt (2 SRM)

Mash Schedule & Volumes

Mash in 4.38 qt at 167F for 75 minute 150F mash
Sparge 1.76 gal at 180F

Water Profile & Additions

Water profile modified Bru'n Water yellow malty

Water Profile

Ca: 50
Mg: 5
Na: 5
SO4: 55
Cl: 72
Bicarbonate: -92
Ph: 5.3

Mash Additions

Gypsum: 0.3g
Epsom salt: 0.2g
Canning salt: 0.1g
Calcium chloride: 0.6g
Lactic acid: 0.6ml

Sparge Additions

Gypsum: 0.4g
Epsom salt: 0.4g
Canning salt: 0.1g
Calcium chloride: 0.9g

Boil Schedule

60 minute boil

0.15 oz Belma [12.10%] at 60 min (18 IBU)
0.10 oz Belma [12.10%] at 20 min (7.3 IBU)
0.20 g star anise at 20 min
2 g lemon peel at flameout
1.6 g coriander seed at flameout
0.10 oz Belma [12.10%] at flameout

Fermentation Schedule

Fermented with WY1214 at 70ml slurry. Pitch at 64F and keep for twelve hours. Raise temperature on fridge to 72F let free rise to 72F. Let rise to 78F after four days of fermentation.

Brewday Notes

Brewed 9.17.15

Preboil volume: 2.6g
Preboil gravity: 1.038
Mash efficiency: 77%

Postboil volume: 2.2g
Postboil gravity: 1.046
Brewhouse efficiency: 80%

10.7.15: Checked FG at 1.009, pretty much dead on to the recipe. Initial tastes are a little strong on the star anise. Cold crashed for two days in preparation for bottling. Half will go on plums and the other half will be bottled straight.

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