Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Belgian/American Blonde


During the winter months in Vermont and New England we all seem to look forward to citrus season. The weather is cold and the flu and colds are rampant. We all want a little bit of something that reminds us that there's warm weather somewhere in the world. Tangerines, Oranges, Clementines, Lemons and Limes abound in our stores and help us fight the winter doldrums. What better season than this to brew some concoctions that are vitamin C forward. I have recently been inspired by a rotating series of American blonde ales brewed by Hill Farmstead called "Life Without Principle". The citrus in the beers changes and the hoping is higher than your standard blonde ale. This past week with a whole Monday off I decided to brew a double batch of beer that I could combine the runnings and make two separate 5 gallon batches of beer from. One, a spiced Belgian single, the other an Imperial Hoppy American blonde ale with citrus.


The grain bill is loosely based off a a combination of a cream ale and a wit-bier. American two row malt is making up 83% of the beer with flaked oats and wheat adding body. The addition of carapils should add foam stability and extra dextrins that the honey addition might dry out. An addition of honey malt should add a sweetness and lightness to work well with the actually honey in the hoppy blonde beer. Lastly a small amount of refined sugar will dry the beer and accent the hop and spice character in both of these batches. It's a good solid Belgian/American grain bill that will be easy to mash and should give me some a great base to work with.


For hops in these two beers I decided to tone down the bitterness in the spiced beer and go the traditional route of Czech Saaz and German Tettnang, aiming for around 31 IBUs. For the happier blonde ale I went with a shot of HopShot and 1 ounce of Columbus. The HopShot bitters cleanly with 40 IBUs and the Columbus adds a certain dankness that I always look for in a strong hoppy beer. After the bittering is out of the way I hit the beer with over 8 ounces of Citra, Simcoe, Columbus, Galaxy, Zythos and Centennial. These are some of my favorite hops and in combination they provide a very citrus forward feel that the oranges should work well with.


Spicing in this beer is different in each batch. The Belgian single/pale ale received 2 tsp. of dried chamomile flowers and 2 tsp. of crushed coriander. These spices are pretty traditional in Belgian brewing. They add subtleness that seems to round out the beer while working with the yeast. The single also received 6 ounces of crystalized ginger. I wanted to get a good spicy character from the ginger and in the past I have always used less. In one of my saisons this past summer I only used 3 ounces and it was barley noticeable. Hopefully with 6 ounces it should be stronger. In the hoppy blonde ale I added the zest of 4 pounds of oranges. I also juiced all the oranges and added that as well. When reading an interview of Shaun Hill from Hill Farmstead on Embrace The Funk, he stated that even with adding the juice of the citrus the addition a citric acid was not that notable to affect the beer dramatically. I hope the fact that I used 4 pounds in 5 gallons will be enough. We shall see.

Base Beer Specs:

20 pounds American Two Row
2 pound Flaked Wheat
1 pound Flaked Oats
8 ounces Carapils Malt
8 ounces Honey Malt
2 Handfulls Rice Hulls Hulls

American Citrus Blonde Specs:

Anticipated O.G. 1.088 (after honey addition)
Anticipated IBUs 109
Anticipated SRM 5


1 Shot Hop Shot @ 60 mins. = 40 IBUs
1 ounce Columbus 13.9% aau @ 60 mins. = 43. 87 IBUs
8 ounce mixed bag of hops @ 10 mins. and though the whirlpool.

1 pound Honey Gardens Raw Orange Blossom Honey

4 pounds of Zested Navel Oranges
Juice of Zested Navel Oranges

Wyeast 1272 American Ale Yeast II

Spiced Belgian Blonde Specs:

Anticipated O.G. 1.055 (after sugar addition)
Anticipated IBUs 31.55
Anticipated SRM 6


1 ounce Tettnang
1 ounce Saaz

4 ounces Belgian Dark Candi Sugar

2 Tsp. Coriander
2 Tsp. Chamomile
6 ounces Crystalized Ginger

Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity

1/14/13 mashed in with 7.5 gallons of 165 degree filtered water. Held mash at 150 degrees for 90 mins and collected 7 gallons of 1.084 S.G. wort pre-boil and 7 gallons of 1.051 S.G. wort pre-boil. Boiled for 90 mins, chilled and aerated for 30 mins.

"American Citrus Blonde" OG 1.089 109 IBUs 5 SRM

"Spiced Belgian Blonde" OG 1.055 31.55 IBUs 6 SRM

1 comment:

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