Wow! Wyeast 1388 is a Workhorse!

On March 24, 2008, in Craft Beer, Homebrewing, Stuff..., by Mark Ranes

Jeez – just a little more than 48 hours later, the Belgian Strong Golden is all but done! The airlock is only bubbling about once every 30 seconds and there’s a huge yeast cake on the bottom of the carboy. Tomorrow morning I’ll give the carboy a swirl (yea, I’m a swirler:) to re-suspend the yeast and hope to get a couple more points off the final gravity. I’ll not rush this ale out of glass, so it’ll sit on the yeast for at least ten days, if not longer.

On a completely different note, when I woke up Saturday morning, eager to brew the Belgian Strong, I noticed that one of my eyes was red – like a small blood vessel had burst, but it didn’t look too bad. My eyes are often pretty funky looking and red after taking a shower, so I didn’t think a whole lot about it. But within an hour or so it kinda blossomed (if you look carefully at Saturday’s pictures you can see it:) and over the next day it started looking pretty bad. Brenda suggested that if it didn’t get better I ought to call the optometrist’s office and see what they had to say. By Sunday, it looked bad and I had pretty well decided to call the eye Doc on Monday morning.

I called this morning and they reassured me that the burst blood vessel wasn’t dangerous, or even that urgent, but I could come in if I was worried. A strange coincidence, I’d planned on getting an appointment for a regular check-up this week since I’m on spring break. Of course, they had no last minute appointments available, but put me on the “call list.” Well, I got a call about 3:00 p.m. today saying that they had a cancellation for 4:00 p.m., so I jumped at the opportunity:)

The doctor looked at it, laughed (he’s an old family friend:), and said I had a good one indeed!

Red Eye Mark

It may take as long as a month for all the blood to drain out and make the eye look normal again. Great…

Tomorrow is a full day. We drop Brenda’s Jag off in Livermore to get worked on, I have a leather jacket to return to Wilsons in Pleasanton, then it’s off to EJ Phair (they currently have Drakes IPA and Schooners IPA as guest handles – yum!) in Concord – and a quick trip to MoreBeer. Once we pick up Brenda’s car, we’re heading down to Redwood City and the Paul Thorn show. Life is good!

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Off and Running…

On March 23, 2008, in Craft Beer, Family and Friends, Homebrewing, by Mark Ranes

The Belgian Strong Golden is off and running! The Wyeast 1388 has got to be one of the strangest yeasts I’ve ever brewed with. The ferment took off in a little over three hours and a large krausen head formed by 7:00 p.m. last evening. It was blowing CO2 like crazy! When I checked it this morning, the krausen had already dropped, but it was still fermenting wildly. If it goes like the starter, it will be done in a few days…

We’re having Easter brunch with Stephen at the BrewBarn. It’s our traditional Easter event, and the familiar faces are here:)  Stephen made fabulous grilled prime rib sandwiches.
Grilled Prime Rib Sandwiches

We shared some North Coast Brother Thelonious, Green Flash Imperial IPA,  and some Bear Republic Racer 5.  All in all, a great low-key afternoon!  Thanks, Stephen:)

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Next up – Belgian Strong Golden Ale

On March 18, 2008, in Craft Beer, Homebrewing, Recipes, by Mark Ranes

Strong Golden Showers LabelLooks like Stephen and I will be brewing an ale this Saturday we’ve been talking about for quite some time, a Belgian Strong Golden Ale. The classic commercial example of this ale is Duvel.

I had a hell of a time finding the Wyeast 1388 yeast, and finally found it at Williams Brewing. Probably the biggest departure for me on this batch is the high amount of cane sugar it calls for, six pounds – and it needs to be cane sugar to help match the flavor profile of the style. Tradionally, this ale has an extended mash that starts unheated and then is stepped through the various conversion temperatures so that as much of the starch as possible is broken down by the enzymes, but we’ll be doing single infusion mash (probably 90 minutes) at 149 degrees.

Here’s the recipe:

Belgian Strong Golden Showers
18-D Belgian Golden Strong Ale

Size: 10.0 gal
Efficiency: 75.0%
Attenuation: 75.0%
Calories: 366.68 per 16.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.082 (1.070 – 1.095)
Terminal Gravity: 1.020 (1.010 – 1.016)
Color: 3.0 (4.0 – 6.0)
Alcohol: 8.13% (7.5% – 10.0%)
Bitterness: 36.28 (25.0 – 35.0)

2.0 tbsp 5.2 pH Stabilizer – added during mash
11.0 lbs Belgian Pils
11.0 lbs Pilsen Malt
1.0 Carapils Malt
4.0 oz Czech Saaz (5.0%) – added during boil, boiled 90.0 min
6.0 lbs White Table Sugar (Sucrose)
1.0 tsp Wyeast Nutrient  – added during boil, boiled 15.0 min
2.0 ea Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 15.0 min
1600.0 ml Starter – (2 Smack Packs) WYeast 1388 Belgian Strong Ale

I wish I’d gotten the yeast starter going earlier this week, but we’ll be OK if I get it going tomorrow afternoon.

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