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Style of the Week: Belgian Pale Ale!

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May 1, 2015 by fhsteinbart


Here we see a typical Belgian Pale Ale served in the appropriate pear shaped glass. Great for summer BBQ's, these beers are quite refreshing when fresh!

Here we see a typical Belgian Pale Ale served in the appropriate pear shaped glass. Great for summer BBQ’s, these beers are quite refreshing when fresh!

Not all Belgian style ales are high octane beers. There are even some Pale Ales and similar styles that approach higher levels of bitterness, and hop character. While not quite unlike British and American Pale Ales, Belgian style Pale Ales are more yeast character defined, and should display a more fruity, minerally, spicy note than their foreign counterparts. But this should be a more subtle profile with just a nice balancing bitter to offset the dry malty character that these beers exhibit. I’ve found that a bitterness to gravity ratio (BU:GU) of 1:2 gives just the right balance for this style of beer. So if you brew a 1.054 OG Belgian Pale Ale, the bitterness should be around 27 IBU’s. The Pilsner malt combined with the specialty grains make for a nice malt backbone, but the finish should be at least in the range of 1.010~1.012 or thereabouts. Otherwise it will be too alcoholic, and not be the crisp, clean, dry beer style that it is. Below is a recipe of mine that captures the balance of malt, yeast and hops nicely.

Extract:

6 lbs. Extra Light DME

¾ lb. CaraVienne malt

¼ lb. Aromatic Malt

1 oz. Goldings Hops (bitterness)

½ oz. Willamette hops (flavor)

½ oz.  Liberty hops (aroma)

Wyeast 3522, WLP550, or Fermentis Abbaye Ale yeast

Procedure:

  • Heat ¾ gallons of water to 165°F.
  • Add steeping grains to kettle and steep for 30 minutes.
  • Remove grains, and rinse with 165°F water
  • Turn off heat and add malt extract, stirring until fully dissolved.
  • Return to Heat, bring back to boil.
  • After 10 minutes, add the bittering hop addition.
  • At 20 minutes remaining, add the Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss.
  • At 15 minutes remaining, add the flavor hops.
  • At knockout, add the aroma hops, then cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or use a wort chiller. Add the mixture to the fermenter, removing the hops, and bring total volume to 5 gallons using distilled, bottled, or filtered tap water.
  • Aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well).
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 62°~65°F for 7 to 10 days.
  • Allow to age an additional two to three weeks before packaging up as usual.

All Grain:

10 lbs. Pilsner Malt

¾ lb. CaraVienne Malt

¼ lb. Aromatic Malt

1 oz. Goldings hops (bitterness)

½ oz. Willamette Hops (flavor)

½ oz.  Liberty hops (aroma)

Wyeast 3522, WLP550, or Fermentis Abbaye Ale yeast

¾ gm. Brewing (Burton) Salts per gallon (~3.75 gms. or 1 level tsp.) in the mash and in the boil.

Procedure:

Infusion mash at 150°F for 1 hour. Sparge to 6.5 gallons of wort, and bring to a roiling boil. Add the bittering hops 10 minutes into the boil. Continue boiling for 40 more min. then add Whirlfloc tablet or Irish moss.  At 45 min. then add flavor hops. At knockout, add the aroma hops, then cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or using a wort chiller. Add mixture to fermenter, removing hops, and aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well). Pitch yeast and ferment at 62°F to 65°F. Gravity may vary depending on system efficiency, so adjust accordingly.

Package up as usual; bottled versions should use 100 gms. corn sugar (approx. 2/3 cup), or kegged to 15 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 50°~55°F in a Pear shaped glass, share, and enjoy! This beer will continue to evolve and change over the coming months, so make enough to last you through your next brew.

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