|Never Fail Guidelines // Belgium Strong Ale
|Home Brewing Recipes
Baker Street Ales Associate Brewer
the crossroads of the beer world
I've received more than a few requests for a beginner's guide to home brewing
so before I give my more experienced readers a new recipe let me help out those
new to this great hobby. Here is a general guide every beginner can easily
follow. Complete every step carefully and you're sure to get a well made beer.
It has been said that 75% of brewing is good sanitation. First, clean all equipment
with warm, lightly soapy water. Rinse well to remove soap residue. Then sanitize
using household bleach at a quantity of 1 tbsp/gallon of water. Or you can
purchase a no-rinse acid sanitizer such as StarSan, which is effective and
leaves no aftertaste. I recommend doing that.
1. Pour 10 liters of fresh, cold water into the 10 gallon plastic pail (carboy). If the
pail is new, wash it out first with a mixture of water and baking soda to remove
the plastic smell.
2. In your largest pot, bring 7 liters of water to a boil.
3. Add one can of malt extract. Stir and cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
4. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
5. As soon as the sugar is dissolved, pour contents into the carboy. Pour, or
'splash', the contents quickly, which adds air to the mixture. The more air the
yeast get initially, the better. It allows them to rapidly grow and get things going.
6. Top up with bottled drinking water or tapwater until temperature is neutral. (If
using tapwater, it is recommended to boil first to kill bacteria.) Test using a
clean, sanitized thermometer. The carboy will now be a little more than half full.
7. Sprinkle in the yeast, and stir well. Cover with lid. (Set lid on loosely; if capped
too tightly, a carboy can explode from the carbon dioxide gas that is produced.)
Keep covered and avoid unnecessary opening. The beer will be ready to bottle in
6- 10 days, depending on ambient temperature of the room and amount of sugar
used in the brewing. Room temperature should be 20-24 Celsius at the highest;
16-20 Celsius is better but it will take the beer a day or two longer to ferment.
Test for readiness with a hydrometer. Set hydrometer into the beer and spin it
once to release bubbles which cling to it and give a false reading. The "ready to
bottle" reading should be about 1.008 for dark beers and 1.010-1.015 for light
beers. If you don't have a hydrometer, you can judge readiness by tasting a
sample - it should not be sweet tasting. There should be little or no bubbling
action in the beer.
Set the carboy on a sturdy table and the 12 2-liter bottles on the floor, with
newspaper underneath to catch drips or overflows. Using a funnel, put 2 level
teaspoons of sugar in each bottle.
Siphon the beer into the bottles, trying not to disturb the sediment on the bottom
of the carboy. (One method is to tape a plastic straw alongside the bottom end of
the siphon hose with 1" projecting beyond the end. The tip of the straw can touch
the bottom of the carboy without the siphon drawing up sediment.) Tip the carboy
as you near the bottom.
It is important to not splash or agitate the beer too much when bottling as any
oxygen introduced can lead to oxidation and a “cardboard” taste.
As you fill the bottles, keep the end of the siphon tube near the bottom of the
bottle to avoid frothing. It is essential that the bottles ar not completely filled -
leave an airspace. Screw the caps on tightly. Invert each bottle and shake to
dissolve sugar on the bottom. Set bottles in a warm area for the first few days,
then store in a dark, cool spot. You can drink the beer within a few days of
bottling, but it will improve with age.
Now here is my recipe for our experienced home brewers - a wonderful dark
strong Belgium ale!
• 8 pounds Belgian Pilsner malt
• 4 pounds Belgian Pale malt
• 2 pounds Maris Otter malt
• 1 pound flaked oats
• 1 ounce Magnum hops, 13.6% AA (first wort hop)
• 1 pound Dark Candi Inc. D Belgian candi syrup (60 minutes)
• 1 pound Dark Candi Inc. D2 Belgian candi syrup (60 minutes)
• 1 pound turbinado sugar (60 minutes)
• 1 tablet Whirlfloc (15 minutes)
• 1/2 teaspoon Wyeast yeast nutrient blend (10 minutes)
• Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity yeast
1. Heat 19 1/2 quarts tap water to 160°F and add to mash tun.
2. Mash-in slowly, adding all grains to the mash tun while stirring to prevent
clumping. The mash temperature should equalize to 149°F.
3. In a separate container, heat 12 1/2 quarts tap water to 202°F.
4. Mash out by adding 12 1/2 quarts of 202°F tap water to mash tun while stirring
after allowing the mash to rest for 60 minutes. Temperature should equalize to
5 Leave at mash out temperature for 15 minutes. In a separate container, heat 2
quarts tap water to 172°F.
6. Slowly drain off wort and add back to mash tun, recirculating until the wort
runs clear and free of grain particles.
7. Drain mash tun to boil kettle, sparging with 2 quarts of 172°F tap water. Add
8. After all mash runnings are collected, add sugars and record preboil gravity.
Bring wort to boil.
9. Allow wort to boil 60 minutes, adding Whirlfloc and yeast nutrients as noted
above. (If your brewing system doesn’t produce a vigorous boil, consider
extending the boil to 75 or 90 minutes and adding the hops at 60 minutes.)
10. Chill wort and transfer to a sanitized carboy or bucket with an airlock. Aerate
by shaking or oxygenate with an oxygenation stone.
11. Pitch yeast and allow to ferment at 66°F for 10 to 14 days.
12. Rack beer to second sanitized carboy or bucket and allow to condition,
tasting periodically to check on flavor development.
13. Bottle or keg at 2.5 to 3 volumes. (Set aside some bottles for extended aging!)
That's it for this month. Hope to see you next time!
Good Brewing and Cheers!