Last year, a few of my friends got together and decided to clone Westvleteren 12. Those efforts led to the creation of QuadFest. It was successful enough to warrant a sequel, QuadFest 2013. For this year's event the number of participants has grown to include myself, my friend Rick, and perhaps a few more homebrewers from the Reno area; we will be holding our own QuadFest North meeting later this year, as most of us won't be able to make the trip down to Orange County.
Yesterday I brewed my take on the classic recipe. I sought to fuse my two favorite quads, Rochefort 10 and Westvleteren 12, into one brew. The recipe is based on several clone recipes, information from Brew Like a Monk, and some guesstimation on my end - Belgian pilsen, CaraMunich, Special B, and a ton of candi syrup from Candi Syrup Inc. I also followed feedback based on Daniel, Shawn, and Scott's attempts last year. My hope is to capture the complexity of Westvleteren but have the maltyness of Rochefort to stand up to barrel aging. Yes, you heard that right, I'll be putting this bad boy into a used 5 gallon brandy barrel...
Friday morning I got a 3 liter starter of WLP530 (Westmalle/Westvleteren's yeast) going to get me to the calculated ~400 billion yeast cells needed for such a huge beer. I cold-crashed it Saturday afternoon and it was ready to decant Sunday morning. I used some of the first runnings to get it going again so that the yeast would be active by the time I was done boiling and cooling.
I mashed in around 10:30, at 152, and was sparging by noon. I usually fly sparge but decided to try batch sparging since I had wanted to try it. Once all the wort was in the kettle I stirred it around and took a pre-boil gravity sample since I wanted to measure my efficiency before I added 4 pounds of sugar to the wort and hit 68% efficiency which was better than I usually get.
An hour into the boil I ran out of propane - $20 and 10 minutes later I was back in business, I probably got a few more IBUs than anticipated but I shortened the remaining time left in the boil by 5 minutes to offset any extraction I might have gotten while the hot wort waited for me to get back from the store. I finished boiling and cleaning up around 5 PM. I aerated the wort, added some yeast nutrient and waited about an hour, then pitched the starter and moved the carboy into the fermentation chamber and within 4 hours I had activity. I set up a massive blow off tube - I figure such a high gravity wort (1.112) is probably a guarantee of some fireworks.
If I hit my target final gravity I should be somewhere around 14% ABV - high for the style, but necessary to stand up to the brandy barrel in my opinion.
More pictures from the brewday:
|19 pounds of grain.|
|My hi-tech vorlauf technique.|
|Boil additions - hops, beet sugar, and coriander seed.|
|In goes the 1g coriander seed and final hop addition.|
|Pre-boil gravity - 1.072 (temp corrected).|
|Post-boil gravity - 1.113 (temp corrected).|
|Tucked into the fermentation chamber. Hi-tech heater in action.|