Tagged ‘belgian‘

Strawberry Belgian Blonde Tasting

Strawberry Belgian Blonde

The first keg of 11 gallons of strawberry Belgian Blonde ale is drinking quite nicely after only a week in the keg. Since I cold-infused the fruit at 34 degrees, I went ahead and boost-carbed the batch. 30 hours at 30psi made for a quickly-drinkable beer, and it’s gained just a slight bit of dryness on the tonge as the carbonation has leveled off this week. The opaque haze isn’t surprising given the beer was fermented with Wyeast 3944 (Belgian Witbier), though I am surprised how little it’s cleared given how cold the beer was for over a week. Side effect of the fruit? This brewer can’t say. The beer picked up just the slightest hint of red from the strawberries, which left it a pleasant pale orange.

Appearance – Pours with a pearl-white, single finger head that recedes slowly to a white ring around the glass. Body is a thick haze of orange and gold.

Aroma – Light notes of strawberries backed with a touch of spice. Smells sweet initially, but leaves you with enough yeast notes to know it’s a belgian underneath.

Taste –  Strawberry flavor is present, but not overwhelming, and gives way to some of the belgian spice typically present with this yeast. The balance between the strawberry flavor and the underlying beer style is as nice as I could’ve hoped. At first sip, it seems on the sweet size, but the finish is dryer on the back of the tongue, and gives the beer a more balanced feel.

Mouthfeel – Really soft carbonation. I may just be a bit early in tapping this keg, but I think the added sweetness from the strawberries covers up what would have been a lighter body.

Overall Impression & Notes – I entered this in the Award of Brewing program (read about it here) at my club meeting Wednesday and received a 33. I was dinged for slightly low cabonation & haze (both expected), and it was suggested to use more fruit overall. I’d argue that would mess up the balance, but I’m not a BCJP judge either.

Personally, this is probably one of the better homebrews I’ve made to date, or certainly one of the more approachable. It’s a bit sweet to be an everyday drinker, but  very refreshing, and I was aiming for something tasty, but light as summer wanes. I may let the second keg warm to room temp for a week or two and see if the added sweetness from the strawberries ferments out, but leaves some strawberry aroma and flavor behind, but I’m very happy with this first keg.


Cold Fruit Infusion

Part of the reason I brewed up a 10 gallon batch of belgian blonde was I wanted to experiment with adding fruit flavor to a beer. Sam’s Club had a sale on frozen strawberries, so I picked up two bags (10 pounds) to play around with. I thawed a few berries the other night and mashed them up in a sample I pulled, and it was extremely tasty, so did some napkin calculations and racked about 6 gallons of beer that’s been cold-crashing for 5 days onto 5 pounds of strawberries in a bucket fermenter.

My plan is to hold the beer at 38-40 for about a week, and if a sample tastes good at that point, I’ll rack to a keg and force-carb. If I think it needs more flavor from the berries, I might add some or all of the remaining five pounds at that point and give it a few more days, but I’m hopeful it will come through nicely with this first infusion.

Belgian Blonde Strawberry Infusion

Brewed – Belgian Blonde

Belgian Blonde In PrimarySo, my first 10-gallon brewday was by and large unremarkable. It was a bit odd heating up a volume of strike water that’s closer to my normal pre-boil volume than anything else, but unfamililiar territory aside, I hit my mash numbers on the button and ran off 12.75 gallons of 1.053 wort, which put me at 89% efficiency coming out of the tun. Not at all bad considering the grist was 40% wheat. Rice hulls? We don’t need no stinking rice hulls. I continue to be happy with the new manifold I built, and the mill that I bought earlier this year.

Since the handle rivets leak on my 15.5 gallon pot, I decided to wing the second half of the brewday and boil in my keggle for the first time. I had only a rough idea what the boiloff rate would be, so I chose to err on the high side, expecting something close to or a little less than my other pot. Instead, I ended up with 11, but I was still a hair above the target O.G for this recipe (1.059 vs 1.057 expected at 75% efficiency for 10 gallons). So, everything went great up until the point when I turned off the flame and started chilling.

I’ve never had a problem dropping 5 gallon batches to pitching temps mid-summer with my 25′ copper immersion chiller, but I hit a wall with this volume around 95° and short of watering my entire lawn, it was clear I wasn’t going to make any substantial progress toward pitching temps in a reasonable amount of time, so I knocked out into two carboys and threw them in the fridge to chill further while I headed out to run errands.

I should have a temp controller built for my fermentation fridge in a few weeks, but I don’t see any more 10 gallon batches in my future until I can figure out what I want to do in terms of a pump, kettle fittings, and how I need to modify my wort chilling to make that process quicker in the few warm months we get. I’d love to go with a plate or counterflow chiller, but I don’t like what happens to my hop utilization using mesh bags, and I use pellet hops almost exclusively, so I have some pros and cons to weigh, and probably some more DIY in my future.

As for this batch, I’m going to keg 5 gallons after a good cold crash and drink it fresh while summer is still here. I’m thinking I’ll split the remainder and experiment with some brief aging on fruit.

Belgian Blonde Fruit Insanity Thing

  • Batch Size: 11 gallons
  • Total Grist: 20.5 pounds
  • O.G: 1.058
  • F.G: 1.011
  • Brewhouse Efficiency: 85%
  • Boil Time: 60 minutes


  • 10# US Two-row
  • 8# Wheat Malt
  • 1# Crystal 10L
  • 1# Flaked Wheat
  • 8oz Caravienne


  • 2oz Willamette @ 60m (not bagged)


2012/07/08 – Brewed early-afternoon. Knocked out 11 gallons at 90°.  Fermenters went into the fridge and chilled for about 4 hours until pitching. Carboys were shook for 3 minutes each to aerate and a 2000mL starter was split between the two carboys. Fermented in a cold-water bath at ~68-70°

2012/07/23 – Fermenters moved to fridge to cold-crash

2012/07/27 – Racked 6 gallons of beer onto 5# frozen strawberries in a bucket fermenter. Bucket went back into the fridge.

2012/07/30 – Broke down and pulled a sample. Nice strawberrie notes, racked to keg.

2012/07/31 – Bled pressure and reset to 8 PSI. Fridge at 34°

2012/08/06Really refreshing brew. Stoked with how the first keg came out.