Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Brewing an Equinox One-Hop Session IPA

It's been awhile since my last one-hop Session IPA, and I've really enjoyed how the two I've brewed have turned out. The first attempt, Mosaic Session IPA, was my first time brewing with Mosaic; I loved what that hop brought to the beer - the aromas and flavors were amazing. The beer did come out a bit thin, however, so for my second attempt, El Dorado Session IPA, I increased the mash temperature from 149 F to 153 F, while using the same grist. While El Dorado wasn't quite as "powerful" a hop as Mosaic, it still contributed a really tasty orange-candy characteristic to the beer, and the higher mash temp definitely improved the mouthfeel.

Well, I'm ready for another try, yet again with another new, hot hop: Equinox. This hop really is quite new; I believe it's only been available commercially under the name Equinox for a year or so. I actually stumbled upon it in the fall when I was browsing new hop varieties online, and one of the flavor descriptors jumped out at me: green pepper. Other words used were quite familiar - floral, lemon, lime, tropical - but green pepper? Seriously? I was immediately curious if this was something I would pick up in a beer hopped entirely with Equinox. Granted, I didn't buy a pound of an expensive new hop JUST for this reason; I had read other good things about it, and some commercial beers have already included it both on its own, and combined with other varieties.

For the grist, I've left it exactly the same as the last two Session IPAs: about 70% 2-row, with some Munich, malted Wheat, and Crystal 40 L making up the difference (and some Acid malt for mash pH purposes only). The high percentage of specialty malts is to help give this light-ABV beer some extra body; in fact, this time around I decided to bump the mash temp up even higher, to 156 F. Yes, this seems high for an IPA, but other homebrewers have brewed Session IPAs with even higher mash temps and reported good results, so I thought I'd give it a try. The only other changes I made to the mash involve water chemistry: based on the success from my recent APA and IPA, I added 3 grams of Gypsum and 9 grams of calcium chloride to the mash, giving a final water profile of 153 ppm calcium, 187 chloride, and 74 sulfate. I really liked the creamy body and smoother bitterness in those two beers with these numbers; this is the type of mouthfeel I'm really aiming for in a Session IPA.

As for the hopping, I've settled on the following schedule for this style of beer: a touch of bittering at the beginning of the boil with hop extract (or any high-AA hop variety) to about 20 IBUs, then 20 g of the featured hop at 10 min, 40 g at flameout for a 15-minute steep, and a 60 g dry-hop for 5-7 days. I had moved things around for the El Dorado Session IPA, where the 10-min addition became 5-min, and the steep was shorter; I found this definitely affected the beer slightly - the aroma was great, but the taste was diminished.

Again, this beer was fermented with US-05, in the high 60s F; I'd love to try it with the Wyeast 1318 London Ale III that I'd been using, but alas the slurry from my last batch was gone. I highly recommend trying some other yeasts, though, if you have the chance.

The brew day went off pretty well. I was rushing in the morning, getting my daughter ready for daycare (don't judge; when I brew, I do it in the AM on a day where I don't work until 3 pm... less family time wasted!), and I missed my mash temp by 3 degrees. So, a mash temp of 153 F, just like before... oh well! Everything else went fine. The Equinox hops smelled amazing fresh out of the package, so I had high hopes for how the beer turned out.

And... it turned out pretty damned tasty, if I say so myself. I'm normally quite critical of my beers (I think), but I really enjoy this one. I think the recipe is right where it needs to be, in terms of malt background, hop presence, and mouthfeel (I still think a higher mash temp would make it even better). The Equinox is showcased front and center in this beer, and really lives up to its hype, in my opinion. It is definitely very citrusy and tropical; several beer geeks who have tried it have described it as "green"-tasting, which makes sense when you try it yourself. And yes, there IS a bit of green pepper in the aroma and flavor; would I have picked that out if I didn't know to look for it? Probably not. But I notice it now, and it actually works!

So, is Equinox worth tracking down? Like any new, talked-about hop, it's not easy to find, and it ain't cheap. But I recommend seeking it out; don't be afraid of the green pepper descriptions if you're not into that. I didn't think it would necessarily work, either, but it does, and it's certainly not a dominant flavor/aroma. I had purchased a pound, and split half, so I'm already down to little under 4 oz... but I'm quite curious to use Equinox with another hop variety or two. But...... which one?

Recipe Targets: (4 gallons, 80% efficiency) OG 1.048, FG ~1.010, IBU ~50, SRM 6, ABV ~4.6%

2.1 kg (70.6%) Canadian 2-row
330 g (11.1%) Munich
330 g (11.1%) Wheat malt
165 g (5.5%) Crystal 40 L
50 g (1.7%) Acid malt

Hop extract - 2 mL @ 60 min (or 11 g of a 10% AA hop)
Equinox - 20 g (14.5% AA) @ 10 min
Equinox - 40 g @ 0 min (with a 15-min hop steep)
Equinox - 60 g dry-hop for 5-7 days (in primary)

Misc: 1/2 tab Irish Moss at 5 min

Yeast: US-05 Safale (about 1/2-3/4 pack, rehydrated)

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 3 g Gypsum and 9 g calcium chloride added to mash

- Brewed on Feb 10th, 2015, by myself. 50-minute mash with 9 L of strike water, mashed in at 153 F (target 156 F). Mashed-out for 10 minutes with 3.25 L of boiling water. Sparged with ~4 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~5.25 gallons.

- SG low at 1.036 (target 1.037). 60-minute boil. Flameout hops had a 15-minute steep before turning on the chiller. Final volume a bit high at ~4.15 gallons; OG a little low at 1.046. Chilled to low-60s F, then poured into Better Bottle. Aerated with 60 seconds of pure O2, pitched rehydrated yeast at 64 F.

- Good fermentation activity by the following afternoon; quite vigorous by the next day, reaching 72 F on the fermometer. Slowed down quickly after that. FG reading of 1.011.

- Dry-hopped directly in primary for 7 days, then racked into CO2-purged keg, set in keezer overnight to bring temp down. Set PSI at 30 for 24 hours, then 10.

When will this season end...
Appearance: Pours with a moderate-large, white, fluffy head; great retention, several minutes later it had barely receded at all. Sticky lacing left on the sides of the glass as it finally diminishes. Body is a burnished-gold color, with very good clarity.

Aroma: Beautiful and distinct aroma; includes citrus, tropical fruit, a touch of floral/spicy character, and a little green pepper. I want to say “green” overall, and others have described it as exactly that.

Taste: Everything translates over to the flavors, and it all blends together perfectly. The grist does a great job of backing up the hops and providing some body, without getting in the way of the Equinox. Finishes with a moderate, smooth bitterness. Very easy-drinking.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, medium carbonation. Again, very smooth.

Overall: Great beer, probably my favorite of the Session IPAs I've brewed so far. I think the recipe is where I want to be, both grist-wise and hop-schedule-wise. Equinox is a very nice hop; interested to see how it will pair with other varieties.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Brewing an American IPA with London Ale III yeast and high chloride water

Not exactly the catchiest of titles, is it?

With my recent stretch of Belgian-inspired beers, it's time for another American IPA! Looking back at every American IPA I've brewed, it hit me that I've used either US-05 or Wyeast 1056 American Ale for fermentation every time. I have absolutely nothing against using a neutral American yeast for any hop-forward beer, but I thought it was time to try something different. Seeing that other homebrewers have had success with fermenting their IPAs "outside the box" - that is, with English yeast - I wanted to try the same. There's also quite a few other excellent commercial breweries that have an English yeast as their house strain: Hill Farmstead, Stone, and Firestone Walker, to name just a few.

Ok, let's work backwards and start with the yeast, then. There's a lot of English strains out there; I've used a few, some in English beers, and some in American hoppy beers (but not IPAs). Wyeast 1968 London ESB Ale is often used in homebrew recipes, including several clones; I can't quite put my finger on why I'm not a huge fan of this yeast, but I'm just not. Any beer I've brewed with it, American or English, has had a certain flavor that I'm not big on. I fully admit this could be due to something else in the recipe, or some mess-up on my part, but I've consistently been disappointed with it in my homebrew history. I've had better luck with Wyeast 1098 British Ale, especially in American beers. Definitely a more neutral strain in the English yeast family, 1098 is often thought to be as close to the Stone house yeast that you can buy commercially; I've heard some sources say 1968 is closer, but I'd definitely go with 1098 if you ever brew a Stone clone.

More homebrewers have been using Wyeast 1318 London Ale III in their hoppy beers lately. Thought to be the Boddington's strain (check out the Wyeast chart from, I think what's led more and more people to this yeast is the rumor that it's also the same strain that Hill Farmstead uses; and if there's a shortlist somewhere with the top breweries that homebrewers want to emulate, Hill Farmstead is definitely on there. It's been a few years since I've had a HF beer; while I can't remember if Edward was the perfect hoppy beer, I definitely recall this it was extremely delicious. What I remember most, along with the beautiful hoppiness of the beer, is that it was somehow still very creamy and smooth. I don't know if this is due to the yeast strain they use, their water source/treatment, or a combination of both. I imagine it's both, along with proper transfer technique and whatnot (i.e. keep oxygen out of the picture as much as possible). When I read Derek's post (of about his experience with 1318, his description of the results having a "saturated, soft mouthfeel" immediately brought to mind my experience with Edward. So, time to finally give this yeast a try.

On to water chemistry. I won't try to get into the intricacies of this subject, here. Many others have written much more than I ever could, and much more eloquently than I could ever hope to do myself. In a nutshell, Shaun Hill has been saying for a few years now that chloride may be more important in water profiles for hoppy beers than most people realize. Certainly, the general consensus for years now has been to bump up your calcium and sulfate in your IPA's water, with no mention at all of chloride. More sulfate usually results in a drier, crisper beer, which is normally synonymous with IPAs; more chloride than sulfate is thought to give a "maltier" beer. But maybe in IPAs, "maltier" really means "smoother", as long as the beer is hopped appropriately (that is, lots of flavor and aroma additions)? I've been adding both calcium chloride and gypsum (calcium sulfate) to my hoppy beers lately; more to help decrease the mash pH than as a flavoring addition, but I was happy to try a different approach. So, with this IPA, I added a large amount of calcium chloride and a bit of gypsum, targeting a chloride level of close to 200, and sulfate at around 70 (based on levels Derek has aimed for).

Something else I've changed in my hoppy beers lately is the way I've dry-hopped and transferred them... sort of. Months ago, I read an excellent write-up (again, from Derek... homebrewer extraordinaire!) on a great method to dry-hop IPAs with no oxygen pickup or clogged kegs (now, that guy knows how to title a blog post!). Check out his post; basically, it involves the use of a "dry-hop keg" featuring two separate stainless steel filters (a small, narrow one that goes over the bottom ~4 inches of the dip tube, and another larger one, also encompassing the entire dip tube), and then transferring the beer afterwards to the "serving keg" by the use of two liquid QDs and some tubing. Pretty simple process once you purchase the equipment needed, and it makes sense that it should definitely minimize oxygen contact with your beer. I've followed this approach the past several batches; since I ferment in a Better Bottle, I still have to use an auto-siphon to transfer the beer to the dry-hop keg, but I'm working on other methods to further decrease oxygen exposure.

Before I continue with the recipe for this IPA, I'll mention briefly that I brewed an American Pale Ale recently that followed all three methods: high-chloride water, London Ale III yeast, and closed transfer when dry-hopping. I didn't post about it because it's a clone recipe (of sorts) that I vowed never to share, but I can say that I was very happy with the results. I had brewed the same beer last year with no water adjustments and with a different English yeast; this more-recent attempt came out much better - the hops popped more, and the bitterness was much smoother in the finish than before.

For the grist, I actually replicated the one used in my Russian River Row 2, Hill 56 clone (an all-Simcoe American Pale Ale). I really enjoyed that beer, and found that the combination of Pilsner malt and Maris Otter gave a nice, bready malt complexity while still allowing the hops to shine through. The only change I made was subbing CaraRed malt (~20 L) for Crystal 15 L, based on what I had on hand. I increased the amounts of each malt to give an OG of 1.062, but otherwise kept the percentages about the same as before.

I decided on three different hop varieties for this IPA; all hops that I've brewed with before, but never specifically used together. Two of them are of the newer, more-popular, and more-expensive varieties: Galaxy (an Australian variety), and Nelson Sauvin (from New Zealand). Nelson remains one of my favorite hops; I love how fruity it is, and at the same time... kind of dank. I've only brewed with Galaxy once, in an all-Galaxy DIPA; that beer kind of disappointed me, but I suspect it wasn't because of the hop variety. It's supposed to be an intensely tropical and fruity hop, and I know from drinking other Galaxy-hopped beers that it lives up to its hype. Stone Enjoy By is hopped with many varieties, but the heavy dry-hop is supposed to be with both Galaxy and Nelson; the few times I've had that beer, I've loved it, so I'm hoping both of these together in this IPA will work well. I also threw in a bit of Columbus at each addition, because... well... I like Columbus, too, and find that it can be a great supporting hop in lots of combinations.

Other than a small bittering addition at the beginning of the boil, with hop extract, I took the route of adding all hops from flame-out on: a 25-minute hop steep, and two dry-hop additions (one in primary, and one in the keg, as described above). I haven't completely given up on 5 or 10-min additions, but I HAVE been experimenting with the approach I've taken here, and can understand why some homebrewers (and professionals) prefer this method. I estimate the IBUs to come in around 70; a 25-min steep with three high-AA varieties comes in at a much higher number in Beersmith, but I suspect that whatever formula is in there is overcompensating?

Overall, the brew day went well... except, I had calculated for a 60-minute boil, and didn't realize until weeks later that I should have boiled for 90 minutes (well, I always do, anyway, when the grist contains pilsner malt). OG was a touch low, likely due to my volume being a bit higher than target, but fermentation took off well and was finished in several days. After 10 days total of dry-hopping, I carbed the beer and was drinking it near the end of February.

I have to admit, that while this beer is quite tasty, I'm slightly disappointed. I think I got my hopes up too much due to: a) the hop varieties I used, and the large amounts, and b) based on how much I enjoyed the APA I had brewed with the same yeast and water adjustment. To be fair, I find this beer has a good bitterness for the style, and remains quite smooth and easy-drinking; the higher chloride seems to provide a different mouthfeel - very creamy - than I'm used to with my IPAs. The Nelson Sauvin, however, appears to be overshadowed; there's nothing wrong with the hop aroma or flavor at all - it's very fruity, citrusy, and a bit dank - but the white wine/gooseberry/whatever-it-is-exactly that Nelson always contributes just isn't there. Not sure if this is because Galaxy is the more dominant hop of the two (not to mention the CTZ in there as well), or because the Galaxy hops I had were the freshest of the three in the recipe. Maybe it's both.

Whatever it is, the beer still came out very nice (other than the appearance... I have no idea why it's so dark and murky!), and I'll continue to make similar water adjustments in most of my hoppy beers. And I'll definitely be using the London Ale III yeast again; I think it's one of the best yeasts I've used in beers that showcase hops. If anyone else has any experience with this English yeast in IPAs, feel free to comment.

Recipe Targets: (4 gallons, 75% efficiency) OG 1.062, FG ~1.013, IBU ~70, SRM 6, ABV ~6.4%

2.05 kg (59.1%) Pilsner
1.3 kg (32%) Maris Otter
160 g (3.9%) CaraRed
120 g (3%) Carapils
80 g (2%) Acid malt

Hop extract - 2 mL @ 60 min (or 11 g of 10% AA hop variety)

Galaxy - 56 g @ 0 min (with a 25 minute hop steep)
Nelson Sauvin - 56 g @ 0 min (with a 25 minute hop steep)
CTZ - 28 g @ 0 min (with a 25 minute hop steep)

Nelson Sauvin - 42 g dry-hop for 5 days (in primary)
Galaxy - 14 g dry-hop for 5 days (in primary)
CTZ - 14 g dry-hop for 5 days (in primary)

Nelson Sauvin - 28 g dry-hop for 5 days (in keg)
Galaxy - 28 g dry-hop for 5 days (in keg)
CTZ - 14 g dry-hop for 5 days (in keg)

Misc: 1/2 tab Irish Moss at 5 min

Yeast: Wyeast 1318 London Ale III (~3/4 cup slurry)

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 3 g Gypsum and 10 g calcium chloride added to mash

- Brewed on January 28th, 2015, by myself. 50-minute mash with 11 L of strike water, mashed in at target of 149. Sparged with ~4.25 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~5.25 gallons.

- SG low at 1.042 (target 1.044). 60-minute boil (NOTE: recipe should have been calculated for 90-minutes, my typical approach with pilsner malt in the grist). Flameout hops had a 25-minute steep before turning on the chiller. Final volume a bit high at 4.25 gallons; OG a little low at 1.060. Chilled to low-60s F, then poured into Better Bottle. Aerated with 75 seconds of pure O2, pitched yeast slurry at 64 F.

- Fermentation took off strongly by the next morning, with the airlock activity pretty much finished within three days. Temp reached as high as 72 F.

- 5/2/15 - FG reading of 1.011. Added 1st dry hops to primary.

- 10/2/15 - Racked beer to CO2-purged keg, added second dry-hops, purged again and set at room temp. Left for another 5 days, then set in keezer overnight to bring temp down and crash out hops.

- 16/2/15 - Transferred beer to serving keg via closed system. Set in keezer to and hooked up CO2.

Appearance: Pours with a moderate-sized, off-white head that has pretty good retention. Body is a murky, orangey-brown color, and very hazy. Not a pretty beer.

Aroma: Hop-forward - very fruity (kind of a mix of citrus and tropical) with a bit of dank mixed in. Not a lot of malt character there.

Taste: Again, lots of hops, with a mixture of tropical and citrus notes. The malt comes through more here in the flavor, with a pleasant supporting background without honing in on hop territory. Finished with a firm, moderate-high bitterness, but it’s all quite dry, smooth, and goes down easy.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with moderate carbonation.

Overall: Pretty good beer; I think the Galaxy is the dominant hop here, but being that it’s the freshest of the three, I’m not surprised. I don’t know why the beer is so dark and murky though...? Solid recipe, solid beer, but doesn’t quite impress me as much as I thought it would.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Brewing a Belgian Red IPA

After the success of my Belgian Session IPA experiment, I wanted to take the Belgian IPA in another direction. Coming up with a few ideas wasn't too difficult; if you start combining several beer styles, and even look at throwing in different yeasts such as Brett, you'll have a list in no time of new things to brew. But I almost immediately centred on one of my favorite "styles", Red IPA. What if you took a Red IPA and fermented it with a Belgian yeast strain? Would the hops and grain bill simply plow over the yeast, or was it possible for all three to co-exist? More importantly, co-exist without clashing terribly?

I don't think these questions can necessarily be answered by one brew attempt, but I DID want to give it a go. I haven't tried a "Belgian Red IPA" before, and couldn't remember seeing one commercially, either. Once I started looking into it, however, of course several other breweries have already tried this, such as Odyssey Beer Werks in Colorado, and Four Peaks Brewing in Arizona (who actually have a "Belgian Red Rye IPA" listed as one of their beers).

Putting together a recipe for this type of beer strikes me as a bit risky, even more so than the Belgian Session IPA. Like I said, I see a lot of potential for bad, or even terrible flavor combinations. At least in a pale beer, you really only have to worry about the combination of flavors from the yeast and hop varieties. But with a red-colored beer, you're bringing in two or more malt types that exhibit possibly strong flavors on their own. Tread carefully!

I actually started with the yeast. Rather than order a new strain through my LHBS, I decided to re-use the slurry from my recent Belgian Pale Ale. Wyeast 3655 Belgian Schelde is normally used in maltier Belgian beers. I've only used it twice, and both times were in Belgian Pale Ales; I like the combination of spicy and fruity it brings to these beers, without being too much of either. I wasn't sure if it was the best pick for a Belgian Red IPA, however... because it's not overly prominent, would the malt bill and hops hide the Belgian character, making this just another Red IPA? Quite possibly. However, I also didn't want to swing the other way, where too MUCH Belgian character may ruin the beer completely. So, 3655 for this first attempt was my final choice.

I've brewed several Red IPAs in the past couple of years that I've really enjoyed, so I had a few different malt bills in mind. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that maybe the recent Belgian Pale Ale malt bill would be a good choice. I know this one works well with 3655; I figured that with a touch of Midnight Wheat to darken the beer slightly (but not add roasty or acrid character), it would be about what I was looking for. Consisting of mostly Pilsner malt, plus some CaraMunich II and Victory, it's pretty straight-forward... and it works, at least, for a Belgian Pale Ale, it does. I also liked that it gives a nice caramel-quality to the beer, without coming across as too busy, for lack of a better word. There's room for yeast to show off, and hopefully room for hops, too.

So, yes, the hops. I continued to tweak this beer based on some others I've brewed recently. My Meek Celebration 2014, a Red IPA I brewed to give away at Christmas, came out pretty fantastic. That beer featured lots of Amarillo, Azacca, and Simcoe hops, which gave fantastic flavors and aromas, with lots of tropical fruit, citrus, and a bit of pine. I was definitely leading to a similar hop profile for this beer - more American-hopped than Belgian-hopped (noble varieties), say. I settled on Azacca and Simcoe, and threw in some Mosaic - another fantastic variety I've been wanting to brew with again. With a small Simcoe addition at 10 minutes, I would then whirlpool with Azacca and Mosaic, with more of all three being added when the immersion chiller was turned on. Add a single dry-hop of all three, and you've got a beer with close to 3/4 lb of hops for a 5-gallon batch (I brewed 4 gallons, which is my normal batch-size for hoppy beers, now).

The beer fermented in the high 60s, and reached up to about 70 F at one point. Warmer would have no-doubt brought out more yeast character, but I was happy with these temperatures for this style. Everything went off without a hitch, for the most part; after a couple of weeks, I racked the beer to the dry-hop keg and threw in an ounce each of Azacca, Mosaic and Simcoe. After 5 days, I moved the beer to the serving keg via a closed system (the exact procedure that Derek from uses; detailed explanation here). My keezer was lacking a few taps around this point, so I tried using the shake-to-carbonate method... but on a very toned-down scale (it just doesn't feel right to be doing it, for some reason!). I was drinking the beer within a week or so, I'd say.

Tasting notes are written at the bottom of this post, but all-in-all I've been quite happy with this beer. The first few sips, it tastes pretty much like a regular Red IPA... the Belgian character hardly comes through at all. Not to say it's not a good beer; the hop combination works extremely well - very fruity, big on citrus, mangoes, berries, and a touch of pine. And the malt character is great; maybe not as "deep" with toffee and caramel as the Meek Celebration, but there's still enough to complement the hops.

As the beer starts to warm a bit, however, the Belgian yeast character becomes more assertive. As expected from the strain, it's not a wave of really intense Belgian character (namely, strong phenolics/spiciness), but more of a mild fruity/spicy tang that is different from the fruitiness from the hops. It's definitely interesting, and sometimes I drink it and feel that the combination doesn't quite work; but, most times, I feel that it does.

I know, not exactly a ringing endorsement, but in the end I do like this beer. I had originally planned on splitting the wort into two batches, and fermenting one half with 3655, and the other with US-05. That definitely would have been useful to really determine how much the 3655 lends to a beer of this style, but unfortunately I got a little lazy. Still, if you're looking for to brew up something a little different, give this recipe a try. Or better yet, play around with some different hop/yeast combinations! As in all things homebrewing, you're really only limited by imagination.

Recipe Targets: (4 gallons, 72% efficiency) OG 1.070, FG ~1.015, IBU ~60, SRM 16, ABV ~7.1%

4.1 kg (85.9%) Pilsner
350 g (7.3%) CaraMunich II (45 L)
275 g (5.8%) Victory malt
50 g (1%) Midnight Wheat

Hop extract - 2.5 mL @ 60 min (or 14 g of 10% AA hop variety)

Simcoe - 28 g (12% AA) @ 10 min

Azacca - 28 g @ 0 min (with a 15 minute hop steep)
Mosaic - 28 g @ 0 min (with a 15 minute hop steep)

Azacca - 28 g @ 0 min (when wort temp below 180 F)
Mosaic - 28 g @ 0 min (when wort temp below 180 F)
Simcoe - 14 g @ 0 min (when wort temp below 180 F)

Azacca - 28 g dry-hop for 5-7 days
Mosaic - 28 g dry-hop for 5-7 days
Simcoe - 28 g dry-hop for 5-7 days

Misc: 1/2 tab Irish Moss at 5 min

Yeast: Wyeast 3655 Belgian Schelde (about 1/2-3/4 cup slurry)

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered

- Brewed on January 13th, 2015, by myself. 50-minute mash with 13.5 L of strike water, mashed in at target of 152 F. Mashed-out for 10 minutes with 6.5 L of boiling water. Sparged with ~3 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~5.75 gallons.

- SG a bit low at 1.048 (target 1.049). 90-minute boil. Flameout hops had a 15-minute steep before turning on the chiller. Final volume 4 gallons; OG a little low 1.069. Chilled to low-60s F, then poured into Better Bottle. Aerated with 90 seconds of pure O2, pitched yeast slurry at 64 F.

- Fast and furious fermentation from the 14th - 15th, but it slowed down quickly after that. I was a bit worried maybe it had stalled, but when I checked the gravity about a week later, it was down to 1.015, where I had hoped.

- 26/1/15 - Racked to dry-hop keg (purged with CO2), added dry-hops and purged again. Set at room temp.

- 31/1/15 - In AM, set keg in keezer to cold-crash.

- 1/2/15 - In afternoon, transferred beer to sanitized and CO2-purged serving keg. Carbed by shaking keg at 30 PSI for 3 minutes, then set at 14 PSI.

Excuse the poor picture quality, my regular camera was broken
Appearance: Pours with a moderate-sized, white creamy head that has quite good retention; eventually fades to 1/4-finger. Body is a brilliantly-clear, dark ruby-red color. This is a very pretty beer.

Aroma: Strong hop aroma (melon, stone fruit, bit of pine) backed up by a pleasantly-strong malt presence - caramel and toffee. As the beer warms, a touch of spiciness comes through, presumably from the Belgian yeast.

Taste: Extremely spot-on with the aroma - big hop character, and a healthy amount of caramel and toffee malt sweetness to back it all up. Again, the Belgian character becomes more prevalent as the beer warms. Medium bitterness in the finish, nicely balanced between sweet and dry.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, moderate carbonation. Smooth and creamy.

Overall: Quite nice; a little unsure about it at first, but I've decided I really like this beer. I'm tempted to do the exact same recipe again, but with a different yeast strain; I'm thinking maybe a Trappist strain, such as Chimay.