Just wrapping up my brew day. Slapped together a couple of beers. At least one of which shows promise to be real good. We toured Belgium a few years back and one beer we had there that really stuck with me was the Belgium IPA we had at one place so I decided to try to recreate it.
Since I'm waiting for my second boil to finish with not much else to do, I thought it might be interesting for some of you if I laid out some of the thought process for today's beers.
I used 50% Belgium pilsner malt (1) and 50% american pale ale malt as the base mashed fairly cool at 149f (7) and ended up with a 1.065 wort (2). For the hops I used all noble hops (3) and put 1 oz of vanguard as first wort (4), 2 oz of German tettnanger at 60m and 1 oz each of saaz and vanguard at 0m (5). Planning to dry hop with an oz each of vanguard and saaz. The freshly boiled wort right out of the kettle was fantastic so I'm hoping the beer is half as good. Using German ale year (wyeast 1007) because it's a really clean/bright yeast which
Also did (well in progress on the boil) an English mild using lots of floor malt (6) and a fair bit of English caramel malt to start. Just a touch of goldings hops for balance and we're good to go.
1,6) different malts are made with different grains and are processed differently. The Belgium (castle brand) pills has a deep richness to it that I haven't seen in other malts. Saying "pils" malt (pilsner ) doesn't actually mean a lot without a qualifier, most German pils is quite a bit "harder" and brighter than american or Belgium. The floor malt is dried using an older direct heat method, this makes it irregular so some is darker and some is lighter (and is all darker than "2 row" or any pils. The unevenness gives the resulting beer a rounder character because you get notes from all of the blend instead of just a single note.
2) this is a measure of how much sugar is in the wort. Water has a specific gravity of 1.000 (close enough don't nit pick me here ) and when you add sugar (in this case from the grain) the gravity goes up. This is a predictor of alcohol content (although the finishing gravity which measures the sugar left behind also plays a part in that math). In this case I'm expecting around 6% or maybe a smidge more alcohol in the final beer.
3) hops are native to both Europe and north America. The north american hops are often described as catty, piney, and similar. The European hops are either (german/polish) spicy and bright floral or (mostly English) muddy/earthy. The na hops have more of the stuff that makes beer bitter as well. The spicy German and polish derived hops (and strains derived from them) are considered "noble" because of their refined nature . Almost all ipas in north America use american hops, and English ipas use the earthier English hops. The all noble IPA should have a bright crisp character that I'm hoping will mirror what we had in Belgium.
4,5) hops added at different points add different characteristics. You specify hop addition times as how long before the end of the boil (so 60m is 60m before the boil is done and 0m is when the heat is turned off - the hops are also left in during the 15-20m cooling period). The earlier the hops are added generally the more bitter and less flavor/aroma you will get out of them. First wort hops are added while the syrup (wort) is draining into the kettle, naively you'd think this meant you only got bitter from them but that appears to not be the case. Oddly they seem to behave more like late addition hops and some how the character is set.
7) the hotter you keep the grains during the conversion process the less fermentable the wort is. You can use this to tune the resulting beers sweetness and mouth feel. 149F is on the lower end (and took a bit longer) so it should yield a pretty dry beer. The mild on the other hand is lower alcohol so it will naturally have less residual sugar and it should be a bit sweeter for the style so I mashed it at 154f to try to avoid doing it out as much (I'm also using a less dry yeast S-04 English test for the nerds).
And my boil is about done so I'll wrap this up by saying that my garage smells fantastic!