Monday, October 4, 2010

Belgian Beer Series: Golden Strong or Tripel?

So it seems like there is a huge confusion in the homebrew community when it comes to the differences between a Belgian Golden Strong and Belgian Tripel. Here is my attempt to figure it out. So the only place I really know where to look, the BJCP Guidelines.

Category 18C. Belgian Tripel
Category 18D. Belgian Golden Strong Ale

So I put the 2 descriptions side by side. Here are the differences:
Tripel - Significant Spiciness (cloves, peppery)
Golden Strong - Significant Fruitiness (pears, oranges, apples)
Tripel - Deep Yellow to Gold
Golden Strong - Yellow to Medium Gold
Tripel - Medium-light to Medium Body, no alcohol warmth
Golden Strong - Light to Medium Body, Noticeable alcohol warmth
"Golden Strong resembles a Tripel, but may be paler, lighter-bodied and even crisper and drier."
Tripel - OG-1.075-1.085, IBU-20-40, FG-1.008-1.014, SRM-4.5-7, ABV-7.5-9.5%
Golden Strong - OG-1.070-1.095, IBU-22-35, FG-1.005-1.016, SRM-3-6, ABV-7.5-10.5%

To further confuse me, I was planning to use my WLP 500 yeast cake that I have been building up with my Belgian Single and Dubbel. My experience with this yeast being fermented around 63 - 65F, I have gotten a lot of banana and other fruit flavors. So this will produce a beer with significant fruitiness, that means it will work better for a Golden Strong but the Chimay Cinq Cents (white) is listed as a Tripel ???
For this beer I was able to pick the mind of one of the experts at the tasting panel I went to. His name is Dion Hollenbeck and I guess his Golden Strong is quite nice. He suggested I use WLP570 which I plan on doing next year. (a cool side story is that Dion originally cultured this yeast from a Gulden Draak bottle and gave it to Chris White). He recommended a very simple grain bill which I am coming to think is the only way for Belgian Beers. He also believes that these beers improve considerably with cold aging, which I will gladly test.

Recipe: Belgian Golden Strong Ale
O.G.-1.078  F.G.-TBD   IBU-23
SRM-5  ABV-7.9-8.6%   Cal-250

Grain Bill (75% Efficiency):
10 lb Belgian Pilsner Malt (80%)
.5 lb Flaked Barley  (4%)
1 lb Refined Sugar (Beet?) (8%)(boiled, then added day 4)
1 lb Turbinado Sugar  (8%)(boiled, then added day 4)

.25 oz Saaz, 6.4%, pellet, First Wort Hopping, 90 min 7 IBU
.5 oz Saaz, 6.4%, pellet, 90 min 15.6 IBU

White Labs WLP500 Trappist Ale (Chimay) - third pitch

Brew Day:
Brewed: 9/25/10
Kegged: TBD

San Diego (Alvarado) Tap Water
1 campden tablet per 5 gal.

Mash Details:
H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.5 qt/lb
Mash Volume: 4 gal
Sacc Rest. Temp/Time: 149F @ 60min
Strike Temp: 162F
Batch Sparge Volume: 4.5 gal
Sparge Temp/Time: 170F @ 30min

Boil Details:
Boil Volume: 7 gal
Boil Time: 90min
Post Boil Volume: 5 gal

Ferment Details:
O.G.: 1.060 + sugar added on Day 4
Ferment Temp: 63-69F
Length: 21 days in primary

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