This beer started off as a Belgian Tripel recipe, but things took a different turn after my brewing efficiency did not extract as much of an original gravity as expected, and the beer came out a little lighter. The yeast was lagging after 3 weeks in the primary fermentation, so I raised the temperature to 75, then 80 Degrees and drove the gravity another few points, greatly improving the flavor as well. I had set out wanting to make a Belgian Tripel, which according to the style guidelines needs to be at least 7.5% ABV…but based on the flavors I ended up getting, and the slightly lower ABV, it is really technically a Belgian Blonde Ale – some honey-like sweetness, a little spiciness from the yeast, and a golden hue. And when I decided that a beer is only as good as it tastes, and style guidelines are really just a framework for that to happen in, the idea came to me to call it The 7% Solution – both in reference to the final ABV of this beer (which is after all, just a solution of barley) and in a roundabout homage to Sherlock Holmes.
14# Belgian Pilsner Malt
.5# Belgian CaraPils Malt
1 oz Fuggles Pellet Hops 5.1% AA, @ 60 Mins
1 oz Saaz Pellet Hops 3.0 % AA, @ 15 Mins
1# White Table Sugar @ 30 Mins
Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey II
2/3 Cup Natural Honey for Bottle Conditioning
O.G. : 1.060
F.G. : 1.008
The sugar and aroma hops, ready to be added.
Always try to enjoy some of the previous labor when brewing…Today I was enjoying a pint of my Misery Mountain Abbey Ale, an appropriate choice for the Belgian yeast and also an excellent fall beer, with hints of chocolate and amber malts.
On bottling day I continued to try a new system of siphoning, giving up on the auto-siphon approach I have used for 2 years and instead just hooking a racking cane up to a rubber blow-off cap and some tubing. this way, by blowing through the second hole in the cap (through wet sanitized paper towels) the beer fairly quickly flows up the racking cane and into the bottling bucket. I like this setup because you can set the racking cane height pretty close to the trub at the bottom of the fermenter, and extract more beer without disturbing the yeast.
Here is a shot of the beer, and in the carboy still- you can see how much the color changes, from deep orange in the fermenter to golden hay in the glass.
Initial tasting at bottling gave me hints of bubble gum flavor, which I attribute to the last minute high temperature, as well as a nice variety of spicy yeast flavors, with a background flavor of bready malt. My initial comparison was to the Pilsner I brewed last winter, which makes sense since the malt bills are very very similar. But whereas the Czech Pilsner yeast highlighted the malt flavors and heavier Saaz hopping came out in the Pilsner, this beer is more about the unique flavors that the Belgian Yeast brings to the table. I had used this yeast before for my Dubbel Dutch, and had been very pleased with the results, getting more dark fruit flavors that blended with the darker malts.
More notes on tasting to follow. Happy brewing out there