Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dreg Series: Rochefort Belgian Pale Ale

I have started to use dregs from non-sour beers recently because my stock pile of sours is starting to outweigh my supply of everyday drinkers. Believe it or not I don't want a sour beer everytime I have a beer. Plus being a homebrewer with thirtsy (but not always adventurous) friends means I need to have some beer that can please the masses.

The easiest beers to do this with are Belgian beers since almost all of them are bottle conditioned. And usually with the primary strain. My original goal was to brew enough batches to try all the Trappist breweries. And then eventually use each strain to brew a separate 1 gal batch with all the same wort. And then brew a batch were I blend all the strains or just blend my favorites. Stay tuned to see how this all works out.

I planned to brew the main batch with the White Labs 540 Abbey IV (Rochefort) yeast. And then also have a gallon of the same wort fermented with dregs from a bottle so I could compare. But since the Limited Edition WLP540 was not out yet, this did not work.

I made a 6 oz starter with frozen 1.030 wort from a previous batch. This was boiled for 10-15 minutes with 1/8 tsp Wyeast Nutrient.  I then poured the wort right into a small bottle after flaming the lip (the actual beer bottle can be used if large enough (i.e. 750 ml)). I will usually start this about 5-6 days before brew day. This is for a couple reasons:
1. If the dregs end up being bad (dead, contaminated) then there is time to change the plan. Smell and taste your starters!
2. I like to try to build the yeast up again with another 6 oz of starter to make sure they are going strong when pitched into the 1 gal container.

The Rochefort dregs showed some activity after about a day. The starters were shaken as often as possible. Then the whole starter was poured into the Belgian Pale Ale wort and there was strong activity in 24 hours. As I have read in Brew Like a Monk most brewers recommended starting the yeast in 64 degree wort and then letting it free rise. No temperature control was used for the 1 gal batches. They fermented out in about 3-4 days. The temperature rose to 70 in the first 24 hours and finished in the higher 70s.

I will do a tasting with all 3 batches from the same Belgian Pale Ale wort.

Update 11.09.11 - Tasting Notes


  1. So how did this turn out?

    1. Thanks for the reminder, I forgot to post a link to the tasting. (see above)
      You can read the post for more details, but it did provide flavors very close to the commercial beer. Although I don't think this yeast is the best for a Belgian Pale and would do better in something with a more complex malt bill.


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