Brewday: Wonmisan Tan Belgian Pale

Another day, another brew. This is an attempt at a slightly-beyond-style Belgian Pale: the alcohol is a bit higher than the style specifies, in order to take advantage of the characteristics of the yeast cake I’ve got ready for it. I could call it a Wonmisan Tan’n’Heavy Belgian Pale, but I don’t want the name to be too long.

Another thing I’m doing differently here is the hops. Since the Belgian Abbey II yeast won’t be doing much in the sense of estery flavors, I’m doing a slightly crazy late-hopping experiment (or what some call “hopbursting”). The thing is, when you add hops in the last twenty minutes of the boil, you get more flavor from them, but less bitterness. When you add in the last five or ten, it’s all about aroma and a little flavor. Bittering hops are the ones added at the start. But of course, you do get some bittering effect from the late-added hops: not a ton, but some, of course.

Which means, you can get more flavor and aroma and the required bitterness, by increasing the amount of hops you add near the end, and bittering only sparingly at the beginning.

Which means this brew should turn out to be a kind of monster for hop aromas and hop flavor — again, not something strictly speaking in style for a Belgian Pale, but does that worry me? Not so much. I have hophead friends who I don’t think will care either… and I just hope this will be the first of my brews that they’ll truly be blown away by.

Indeed, I hope I am blown away: I’ve had a string of disappointments, with a few batches having gotten contaminated (the lemongrass cream ale did, as did my the second runnings off the sour ale I made last spring), and those that didn’t otherwise being less than satisfactory. (The Sour Ale looked and tasted kinda weird, though I know it wasn’t contaminated.)

This prompted me to go back to basics: to make a beer with mostly just malt and hops, to go with a simple basis and rev things up in other ways — like with the yeast — and to aim for something close to a specific style to see what I end up creating.

I’m far from a funk about my brewing, mind. It’s just… I’d like a few good brews in a row, now. Not that I’m going to refuse to experiment, of course. I have some odd things planned… but this is a post about today’s brew, and today’s brew is what I’ll discuss.

So: I decided I wanted big hop flavor, big hop aroma. Of course, the big question here would be: what kind of hops?

My choice ended up being determined by a desire to make something fruity, slightly citrus, and flavorful. According to what I’ve read Belgian Pale Ales tend to make use of Saaz, but Saaz can only do so much — they’re supposed to be spicy but also earthy. Not the kind of thing I had it mind, so I decided to use a little Saaz for bittering, and then go with something a little fruitier for the flavor and aroma. And while I may end up regretting loading up on the fruitiness, what I ended up with was a couple of hops I brought back with me from Australia: Citra and Galaxy.

Both relatively newer breeds of high-alpha acid hops, both very fruity (with Citra being more tropical, and Galaxy being more pasisonfruit and citrus), I have a feeling the two will likely complement one another, as well as bring out the orange peel and the freshness of the freshly ground Indian coriander. I suspect the star anise will get lost in all of that, but I’m not particularly worried for it.

Here’s the recipe (but I won’t post it to’s boards until I’ve tried it and can say it’s good stuff), and yes, the formatting is a little weird.  Or to see it properly formatted, go here. The recipe is for an 18.5L batch with a 60 min boil.

Malt & Fermentable Stuff:

1.9 kg Pilsner (2 Row) (42% of fermentables)
1.5 kg Munich Malt (33%)
0.5 kg   Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L info (11%)
0.5 kg Palm Sugar info (11%)
0.15 kg Cara 45 info (3%)
(4.55 kg fermentables)

Hops (all pellet):

10 grams Saaz — first wort
30 grams Citra — 15 mins
10 grams Galaxy — 10 min.
10 grams Citra — 5 min.
10 grams Galaxy– flameout

Bitterness target: 33.2 IBU


Irish Moss at 15 min
Freshly ground Indian coriander, 15 grams at flameout
1 Star anise at flameout

Target OG: 1.060 (Nailed it! Oops, I was at 1.050… er, I guess I flubbed it. I have to admit, also, that the sweetness was much more pronounced when it was hot. I just found a cooled tube of the wort sitting on the counter, and it was malty, but not so sweet. Hmmm. I think it may be because I flubbed the dough-in, dropping the grains into water that was too-hot. Still… there must have been enough enzymes for the mash to work, since the iodine test worked. Hmmm… I wonder what’s up with that, besides poor brewhouse efficiency? I may well have over-sparged, considering the cold water I had add to the mash get the SG down. [It was a lot, since I misread the thermometer on my mashing tun… significantly misread it.] Ah well… I guess it’ll be in style. Or a learning experience. Or something.)
Target FG: 1.015
Should come out at about 6% alcohol

Target Color: 10° SRM (Gold to Copper)

(Mash Efficiency: assumed 75%, I am not sure what it actually was. I should learn how to calculate that, but I’m guessing it was around 75% given that the OG and volume seem correct.)

Yeast: Pitched onto a yeast cake (small, thin, but a yeast cake nonetheless) from an earlier dubbel fermented with Belgian Abbey II, at about 20-some degrees Celcius. Then set in a closet on my balcony, where it’s cool, to start off. Once the fermentation starts a-goin’, I’ll bring it inside, just like with the last batch.

More to report on other beers, but that’s not for this post.

UPDATE (6 Nov. 2010): Bottled this beer. FG was 1.010. Tastes fine, nice and mildly hoppy but flavorful enough pre-carb, curious what it will be like when carbed up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *