Belgian Tripel- Kickin’ it Old School!

A couple of weeks ago, four of us went on a gustatory tour of the North Side. One of our stops was Kahn’s Fine Wines. True, visiting a wine store for me is leading a horse to water it can’t drink, but I was able to select a few bottles to cellar. But I digress…

During this stop, I bought not only a few bottles of wine but restocked our woefully low hard liquor selection (a pleasant, if not inexpensive, task). Then I see Carlton lug something huge into our rickety cart (note to Kahn’s: your food/wine is non pareil. Invest in some better carts): A KEG OF BEER.

That’s right. A KEG. The nerve of him! The nerve! I’m a BREWER!

…uh, a brewer that hasn’t brewed in, oh, over six months. So it’s been buying a bunch of bottles of beer. More packaging, more effort, more waste, less taste. I realized how valid his silent complaint was. So I’ve dusted off the beer kit and I brewed it last night: a Belgian Tripel from my favorite website, Midwest Supplies. I’ve been brewing Belgians since my very first beer kit. I tinker with other styles, but Belgians are a huge crowd-pleaser.

After a marathon 3-hour brewing session, I tested and tasted the wort. It was stickily sweet, thanks to four pounds of malt and 1.5 pounds of candi sugar. I could barely taste any other flavor through the cloying sweetness. I hope the beer isn’t too light once the alcohol content rises to 6%. The other problem is that my original gravity was only 1.070, with the kit’s target being 1.072-1.076. I have been dogged by low gravity before. It’s not my hydrometer- I usually end up right in the finished gravity target range. It’s as though I haven’t fully extracted the grains or I have over-diluted it somehow. However, I brought the wort to 155 degrees F for a full 30 minutes to extract the malt (this is NOT an all-grain kit). I also boil all five gallons, not just 2-3 gallons. I posted in my favorite brewing forum. Maybe I’ll hear an answer soon.