However, I didn’t start this hobby just as a way to do the laziest possible brewing. As you may recall from my post much earlier this year, I made a Belgian Tripel the right way. OK, I guess it was just partial mash, but I do not have the equipment for full mash. Regardless, it took three hours of initial brewing. I racked the ale to the secondary at the beginning of May. Using this handy calculator like always, plus temperature correction, the alcohol content was already a whopping 7.6 percent!
Another thing about Belgians is that all that sugar needs time. Keg after the standard 14 days, and I’ll lose some of the complex flavors (plus lots of the sugar will be unfermented). So I waited. It’s been almost four full months in the secondary and it’s time to keg.
But…Belgians also bottle well. Their shelf life is very good, and the flavors are purported to be better from a bottle than from a keg. Sure, it will take another two months for carbonation, but the best things in life are worth the wait, right? So I’m bottling the whole batch. As I sanitize bottles, prepare rubber rings for the caps (I’m using swing-top Grolsch-style bottles), and prepare priming sugar, I’m reminded of why I keg. One container to sanitize means much less chance of contamination.
Right before adding the priming sugar, I took the final specific gravity reading and had a quick taste. The alcohol content has crept to 8.15%. The beer itself was superbly clear, as though it had been filtered, thanks to the long secondary time. Unfortunately, in order to ensure that not all of the priming sugar was at the top of the batch, I had to stir it a little. I will give it a couple of hours to resettle. (See my comment below)
The taste confirmed the fear I had when I tasted it upon racking to the secondary: it’s too hoppy. Maybe cooling plus carbonation will help, but I’m stymied by the hoppiness. If anything, I underhop my Belgians, boiling the hops only 30 minutes. Maybe some of the pellets are making it into the primary and having longer contact.
Don’t get me wrong; the beer is delicious. I just wanted it to be a little fuller in maltiness and lower in hops.