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Belgian Brewday: Wonmisan Shiktakju

Shiktakju is probably a nonsensical word in Korean, but I like the sound of it nonetheless. Shiktak means table, specifically the kind of table at which one eats. The suffix -ju denotes a kind of alcohol. Now, normally, it’s appended to the stuff from which the alcohol is made — baemju is snake liquor (baem=snake), bokbunjaju is wild black raspberry liquor, maeshilju is plum liquor, and so on.

So it may be that my usage is a nonsense coinage, but on the other hand, some liquors are named for other things. (I don’t know for sure the etymology of baeksaeju, but I doubt it’s liquor made of one-hundred-years; it’s certainly not aged that long either.) Still, for me shiktakju does sometimes summon up the idea of a liquor being made of a table. This amuses me, so I’m keeping the name.

Turning from the name to the beer, it’s quite simple: I’m setting out to make a Belgian Singel, that is, a low-ABV Belgian session beer. My goals are:

I was pretty blown away by the aromas and fruity flavors on the Belgian Golden Strong Ale I made last November, and which I am still aging (sadly, in a keg with a broken dip tube, so I will need to rack it to another keg to taste it, but I figure bulk aging for a while more won’t hurt it). I figure some of that 2nd generation yeast cake, which I still have around, will do nicely on this wort, and I can build it up into a big yeast cake to work on a significantly bigger beer, maybe the Tripel Karmeleit-inspired Tripel I plan on brewing early this summer. (Perhaps making a stronger (6.5%) pale ale along the way.)

Anyway, these are my plans. I’ll be brewing the beer tomorrow, when I have more energy. While I only have a single day of class left this semester, the last few days have been particularly draining for me, as students have pretty much decided the semester is over… or, rather, have stopped doing any kind of preparation for classwork and started focusing on cramming for their intensive week of exams which begins next Wednesday. (Or have stopped coming to school since their other classes are, apparently, already “finished,” or so a few have told me.)

Update (10 June 2011): Well, I oversparged but only slightly, and my 90 minute boil was a little more vigorous than I expected (because I left the immersion heater going, precipitating one very minor boilover and one close call), so I ended up 3 liters short on the final wort; yet nontheless, the wort came out very much as I’d hoped: a rich, deep gold-coppery hue and tasting pretty good out of the sample tube.

I’ve boiled some water up and am just waiting for it to cool before I add it to the bucket and re-aerate. Fermentation should kick in soon, I think — probably by the morning — and I’m just letting it happen at room temp, which is about 21°C: there’s not that much sugar to chew through, so the yeast shouldn’t be too stressed out to begin with, and slightly higher temperatures will bring out some fruity phenolics of the kind I’m after, and which were produced by the Golden Strong Ale that this yeast cake is from.

And yes, I know that after fermenting up a 9%ish ABV beer, the yeast will be mutated somewhat. I’m actually curious to see how, so this is not a decision made in error.

By the way, the recipe is here. here.

UPDATE (13 Nov. 2011):

At some point along the way — I think it was in September — I added a small amount of cognac in which French toasted oak and orange peels had been steeped for a long time. There was a noticeable shift in flavor, but mostly from the orange, not the oak.

Then, today, I got tired of Abigyuhwan Belgian Golden Strong Ale taking up a whole keg, and decided to blend the last remaining amount (maybe a gallon or less) into a remaining 6-6.5 liters of my Shiktakju. The result, so far, is quite glorious — a sweet, rich brownish ale with the fruitiness of the Abigyuhwan and none of the fusely pain, and all of the color and body of the Shiktakju.

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