Friday, September 28, 2012

Brew 12 - Belgian Wit..sort of

My son is a big fan of Blue Moon's Belgian White Ale, although sometimes he'll grab a Shock Top.  some folks are quick to point out..."YOU KNOW ITS MADE BY MILLER/COORS?" 

Yeah, we do, and you know those guys have been making beer a long time and their brewers maybe hamstrung by the guys in the marketing department, but they do know their stuff.  Blue Moon is actually a separate craft beer division a couple layers removed from the mass produced Coors and Miller Genuine Draft divisions.  They have their own brewery, brewmasters, etc. and have come up with some really good brews - red ale, pumpkin ale. farmhouse ale, various wheat ales and an abbey. 

So since my Saison is almost gone already, the next brew on my list was a Belgian Wit, to see if I could make something my son would like.  I wasn't trying to exactly duplicate Blue Moon, but wouldn't complain if I did.  Should have looked deeper before starting, since I didn't realize they use oats in the brewing too.  I found a Belgian Wit on from some brewer named Brad.  I found several others and combined the recipes and altered the ingredients a bit to use up some of the stuff I had on hand.  Well, a little more than a bit.

I had a bunch of small batches of hops laying around - .2 ounces of this, .4 ounces of that.  Remember I only brew 2 gallon batches, so I end up with lots of odds and ends, half packets of dry yeast, half bags of specialty grains, etc.  I did some comparisons on the hops and substituted my .3 oz of Hallertau US hops for Saaz to use as the aroma hops. 

I picked up a regular naval orange and zested it; probably some other orange you're supposed to use. I used SafeBrew WB-06 yeast instead of WLP400.  I did have enough Kent Goldings on hand, pale ale malted barley, some light crystal malt and some flaked wheat.  I still needed a little higher SG so I found half pound of honey.  Okay, so we are way off from Blue Moon I suspect, but there should be enough wheat - 1.6 lbs - to make it taste like a wheat beer.

Went through the normal process, sanitizing, heating up the mash. 

Found out an interesting tidbit from a plumber that came by to flush my water heater.  He said that the resin based water treatment system I have only removes chlorine and particulate, so my water still should have enough carbonate and magnesium for brewing.  That's not what the water treatment guy said, but I'm sure he's just giving me the company line so I don't freak out that there's still calcium in my water.

While the mash was cooking, I took the coriander in a zip lock bag out to the garage and crushed it with a hammer.  Tough little buggers.  Have to do the same with Chocolate malt when I use it - can never seem to get it to go through the mill at the homebrew store.  Almost seems oily.

Kept the mash at 155 instead of the multiple steps I usually do.  Didn't seem to matter, did an iodine test after 60 minutes and it was fully converted.  So started sparging with a grain bag in the fermenting bucket to avoid having to rack the wort:

Then on to the boil for 60 minutes with the Kent Goldings going in as soon as the boiling started.
Turned off the heat after the 60 minutes and threw in the Hallertau hops, coriander and orange peel and let those sit for 5 minutes while I filled up a cooler outside and the sink with cold water.  This is the part I really dislike, trying to cool this stuff down.  Fortunately the weather has gotten cooler at night and the water in the cooler really helped bring it down relatively quickly, with the help of a few ice packs.  I used the grain bag again to sift out the hops, seeds and peels.  I also poured the wort back into the fermenter and kettle a few times to oxygenate it, plus let it splatter pretty well into the glass jugs.  I had started the hydrating the yeast with some of the wort during the boil, so it was good and ready by now. 
Here's all the jugs, hoses and towels ready in the cooler to start fermenting.  Twice a day I soak the towels in cool water to keep the jugs at 70 degrees.  The starting gravity came out to 1.055, which is about what I was targeting.
We'll see in a month what I end up with.  Should be fairly drinkable.

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