Saturday, December 27, 2008

Belgian Quad

12.05.09 Souring

12.27.08 Bottling

Racked the imperial stout for secondary conditioning today, figured it wouldn't hurt to bottle the quad now...its been a few months. Finished pretty high. not sure why. FG of 1.035ish. Puttyman's came in high too. He was around 1.040. dammit. it still tastes great, just will not be particularly adherant to style. dammit. I carbed w/ a relatively large amount of priming sugar, hoping to get a crisp mouthfeel, that might enhance the perception of dryness. If you click on the pic, you'll see the nice russet/red color of the beer through the autosiphon. nice.

figured I'd post a bit how I cork and cage the belgian bottles...i use the colonna corker/capper.

It can be used to cork regular wine bottles, and I've found that with a few extra steps, it can cork belgian bottles nicely. I tried the slightly larger/more rigid champagne corks...not sure if you'd want to risk forcing the cork through the plastic iris. I think it would break. thankfully, belgian corks are also sufficient for corking champagne bottles. But today, I corked Belgians.

You start with sanitized belgian bottles, I prefer the dishwasher heat cycle for this, just need to plan a bit ahead, the full cycle time takes about 2hrs from the time I press the start button.

I get the belgian corks and cages from I think the last time I did the math, this enclosure method costs about 40cents/bottle. so, several times more pricey than capping. The colonna capper contains a bell housing that fits the larger euro caps, so that's an option for most champagne bottles (not belgian bottles). A nice finishing touch would be a champagne foil...I've searched for black foils, but they just don't seem to be available to the homebrewer.

You set the adjustable level bottom plate to appropriate height (just underneath the spring loaded corking iris) and depress the lever until the cork is maybe 1/3 in to the neck of the bottle.

Here's the rigged part...remove the bottom plate, and continue pushing the cork all the way through. this method leads to a bit of variability in the depth of the cork, but with the cage eventually in place, I think it looks just fine.

The cage is placed over the top of the cork, pressing down initially with the palm of your hand and pulling back two of the wires with your thumb and middlefinger, holding the cage down with your forefinger, insert a smooth plastic pen in to the open loop. Holding the wires in place with your left hand, twist the pen with your right, five and 1/2 times. Dont' over tighten, it doesn't add anything, and you'll break the wire. Remove the pen, and fold the loop upward toward the cork. Make sure the wire eventually is seated below the bottom of the second lip of glass on the neck.

A freshly bottled box of quad ready to be stuck in storage and forgotten about for a year or so.


I went to a trappist tasting at the brookline wine gallery with my buddy and fellow BA, puttyman.

Kai took us on a tour through the wonderful world, sampling a bevy of the trappist's finest, accompanying the tasting with some information that satisfied the beer nerds among us and did a nice job of keeping the unitiated entertained. We had the 'standards' and they surprise me every time. As a homebrewer, tastings like these renew my interest in trying my hand at these styles. I sampled Westy12 for the first time in my life. Unbelievable. Truly. Was it head and shoulders over the other brews we tasted? no, it was maybe a forehead + some eyebrows..definitely better/more enjoyable, but...not incrementally so. Hopefully I'll be able to extend one of my frequent work trips to the Netherlands to go see a trappist brewery or two. I wonder how many bottles I could fit in my return luggage...
So, of course, I bought a few quads with the intention of cellaring.

Kai actually sent me a beermail before the event, asking if I had any belgian style homebrews that I'd like to share with the group, to bring a few along. I was more than happy to grab a few 750Belgian bottles of my 'tripel', (made from another midwest recipe kit)which had spent about 9 months in the bottles at that point. Was happy I had these in the proper cork + cage for a group who'd likely appreciate it (they did).

Side by side with the trappist stuff...well, uh, obviously mine did not achieve monkitude. Gotta say, though, it was still tasty, and all who sampled, had that look on their face all homebrewers hope for (you know, the one where the eyebrows raise up after the first taste, subtle nodding in approvement, the glass gets raised up a bit for closer inspection/sniff). I offered the following critique...too high of a FG (don't have the numbers)/not dry enough for a true tripel, color a bit too dark, which aligned with up front evidence of the caramalized flavors...I attribute both to the fact that it was made with LME in a concentrated boil in my earlier brew days. Not dry/light/'digestible' enough to be considered a proper tripel. This one was fermented with a healthy 500ml starter from yeast cultured and stepped up several times from two 750s of Duvel (thanks Brendan). A recent tasting (on 12/13/08) has this one expressing a little green apple on the nose, along with caramel...again, still a bit too sweet for a true tripel, but delicious in its own right. Only a few bottles of this left, they are out of my arms reach in storage, so I'll revisit these in a year or so. Probably time to brew a proper all grain tripel, use some WLP trappist. but that's still on the to-brew list, there were still other styles that i want to try my hand at before revisiting prior style attempts.

Anyhow, I sought out the D2 (based on recipe from BYO's clone recipe of st. bernadus12). Supply is a bit tough on this, so on the order that was originally placed, the D2 was put on backorder. Delayed the eventual brewing...first attempt was with puttyman, we went in together on an ingredient order. Subsequent brewday was on 09.23.08.

this is the recipe and output from beersmith, sorry I don't have any data on the mash schedule/temps, but I generally do a single mash temp, 1.25quarts/lb. Batch sparged this, as I hadn't received my stainless sparge arm at this point.

Belgian Dark Strong Ale

Type: All Grain
Date: 9/23/2008
Batch Size: 5.50 gal

10 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 53.11 %
3 lbs Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM) Grain 15.93 %
1 lbs Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 5.31 %
8.0 oz Carafa III (525.0 SRM) Grain 2.66 %
5.3 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 1.75 %
0.50 oz Challenger [7.50 %] (60 min) Hops 10.1 IBU
0.25 oz Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] (15 min) Hops 1.8 IBU
3 lbs Candi Sugar, D2 (80.0 SRM) Sugar 15.93 %
1 lbs Sugar, Table (Sucrose) (1.0 SRM) Sugar 5.31 %
1 Pkgs Abbey Ale (White Labs #WLP530) Yeast-Ale

Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.096 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.110 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.022 SG
Measured Final Gravity: 1.035 SG (ug...really high...)
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 9.71 %
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 9.87 %
Bitterness: 11.9 IBU
Calories: 529 cal/pint
Est Color: 42.8 SRM


  1. I used WL500 for my Quad, and it ripped through it in a week: 1.098 -- 1.019. I wonder if this yeast would have given you a lower final gravity.

    Secondly, do the champagne style corks have an improved function over oxygen barrier crown caps, or are they more ornamental?

  2. Not sure about the yeast/reason for the higher FG on my attempt. Temps never went low (under 68ish) during fermenation, great activity, didn't rack early, etc. Reading Brew Like a Monk, I didn't ramp up fermentation temps as the days went by...and I'm not too sure about the fermentability of the D2 as compared to dark candi rocks. How much did you use?

    I suspect the corks would be a better long term (ie. several years) bottling solution over crown caps, due to the reduced chance for rusting/corrosion, not that I've ever experienced that directly.

  3. I used one bottle of D2 (1.5 pounds).

  4. The St. Bernadus Abt12 clone recipe from BYO suggested a full 3lbs of the D2.

  5. My Quad is just now reaching its intended carbonation. How is yours doing?

  6. Not so hot...never made it to proper C02 levels. A high FG + subpar carbonation...well, I intend to empty the bottles in to 1gallon growlers and sour 'em. Haven't picked out the bugs yet, but this will be a fall project.

    Hopefully end up with something like:


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