Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Batch # 50 - Faustian Bargain Golden Strong

For my fiftieth batch of all-grain beer I wanted to do something special, so I decided to go after a style that I hadn't tried before, the Belgian golden strong, or strong pale ale. This style has a pretty wide set of parameters and there is a lot of overlap with the Belgian tripel, but in the tradition of its most famed example Duvel, it tends to be drier, lighter in colour, and lighter in body than most tripels. It is also often more fruity, where the tripel tends to be a bit spicier.

I went with a much higher amount of sugar than I had ever used before, a fact that had me worried a bit, but no guts, no glory. This, used with Belgian pilsner malt, would aid in keeping the body and colour light, as well as helping to achieve the characteristic dryness this style often exhibits.

The fermentation schedule for this beer was more akin to fermenting a saison that a tripel. Instead of stopping the rising temperature at 21 C, as is recommended for tripels, this bad boy went way higher. Starting nice and low to keep the hot alcohols under control, I began to ramp up the temperature as fermentation slowed. Over the course of the first week I raised it up to 28 C, which kept the fermentation in overdrive. This beer was going harder on day 8 than most beers go on day 3, and the fruity esters coming off of it were unreal.

After 9 days it was down to an astounding 1.007 and still dropping. The colour was murky with yeast but nice and pale and already it was tasting dry and fruity, with no apparent alcohol. Since then, as the yeast has dropped out of this one, the aroma and flavour have revealed a fruitiness with the character of peaches or nectarines, and a tart dryness that hints at good drinkability.

Carbonating this beer also had me worried. The golden strong is probably one of the most highly carbonated beers out there and usually requires stronger bottles to withstand the increased volume of CO2. I had a pretty good store of Belgian bottles that were constructed to withstand highly cabonated bottle refermented beers, but in the end I chickened out a little from the amount of carbonation that I originally planned. Better to up the carbonation next time than put the shattered pieces of my psyche back together if all the work and thought I put into this beer turned into a cupboard full of bottle bombs. Now the waiting game.

Ingredients: Belgian pilsner malt, wheat  malt, white sugar, Styrian golding hops, Czech saaz hops, Wyeast 1388 Belgian Strong Ale


  1. You ever experimented using a berry sugar? My father (RIP) used a berry sugar in his dark homemade beer and the alcohol content shot up to 14%!

  2. Never tried berry sugar. 14% is pretty nuts, that must have tasted interesting!

  3. You will have to do a taste test between "S.O.T.M" ?

  4. I don't much like my odds in that comparison, those boys certainly know their way around a mash tun.