Monday, October 10, 2016

Bacchanalia and Lisztomania

One bill, two beers, and a very full mash tun
Cheers, friends! Last weekend, I had a wonderful time brewing up my two Belgian beauties--beers whose inspiration (and names) literally came to me in a dream--Bacchanalia and Lisztomania. After making a nice starter of Wyeast 1214 on a stir plate, the big beer took off like a shot and fermented quite completely in only about four days. On Saturday evening, I brewed up the first, big beer by utterly filling my mash tun to the brim, then I re-sparged to collect the volume for the second batch and finished the second batch on Sunday afternoon. Here is what the two beers will look like, and the grain and hopping that I used for these beautiful batches:

Bacchanalia, a big dark Belgian strong ale:
Original specific gravity (measured by refractometer!): 1.096 (Target ABV: ~10%)
Bitterness: 32 IBU
Color: 15°L (deep amber)

18 lbs Belgian Pilsener malt
6 lbs white wheat malt
2 lbs dark Munich malt

Mash at 153° for 60 minutes

1 lbs Belgian dark candi syrup (90° L)

1 oz Phoenix hops (pellets 8.4% AA) @60 minutes
1 oz Phoenix hops (8.4% AA) @30 minutes

1 oz Hallertauer Hersbrucker (whole cone 4.5% AA) dry hop, 14 days

Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey yeast, 1.5 L starter

Aged on medium-toasted French oak (perhaps soaked in red wine) for 1 month

This should be a big, dark, complex beer with lots of dark fruit and spicy notes from the Belgian yeast and some real vanilla smoothness and light tannins from the French oak aging. As we found with my Sea Symphony Barleywine, whose last bottles we tasted on my birthday (mid April) this year, a good high-alcohol beer will age beautifully and improve in subtle complexity for years if you have the patience/willpower to let it do so. My plan for Bacchanalia is to try and be patient and taste a couple bottles per year, with a few careful tastes in the first year to gauge the potential of the brew. Luckily, we won't have to wait nearly as long for Bacchanalia's virtuosic little brother, my "small" second-runnings beer, Lisztomania:

Lisztomania, a virtuosic Belgian mini-IPA:
Original specific gravity: 1.036 (Target ABV: ~3.7%)
Bitterness: 32 IBU (but the bitterness balance will be very different in a smaller beer)
Color: 13°L (amber)

Same grain bill as above! Second runnings collected after first batch by sparging with ~180° water.

5 oz Belgian extra-dark candi syrup (180°L)

First-wort hop: 1 oz Belma (9.7%AA, notes of citrus, pineapple, strawberry, melon)
1 oz Citra (9.4%, notes of citrus, papayal, tropical fruit) @ 5 minutes left in boil
1 oz Belma @ flameout
1 oz Citra @ flameout

1 oz Belma dry-hop 7-10 days
1 oz Citra dry-hop 7-10 days

Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey yeast

This beer should be drinkable as soon as carbonated, with a bright, juicy, fruity hop character and a little bit of extra fruitiness/spice from the Belgian yeast. A virtuosic fresh, flavorful session beer with under 4% ABV, and in the ballpark of 115 calories (about the same caloric content as a BudLight, with about 50 times the flavor). I designed this beer to be a sort of mini Belgian-IPA, inspired in flavor profile by big Belgian IPAs like Green Flash Le Freak or Houblon Chouffe but with half the ABV.

We'll have the best of both worlds with these two dream-beers...a deep, complex dark Belgian strong ale that well likely age well for years to come, and a fruity mini/session-IPA that will be delicious, bright, and flavorful right out of the bottle once it's all carbonated. I will miss the speed and ease of my kegerator, but it'll still be great to make some tasty bottled beers in the meantime. I'll be tasting both soon to see how they are doing, and then we'll enjoy Lisztomania nice and fresh and savor Bacchanalia over the years...early tasting notes and a delicious coffee cream stout yet to come from the new setup here in MA!

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