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NSFW Belgium Golden Strong Ale

Brewed: 07/29/2013   Kegged: 08/24/2013

nsfw.jpgFor SheppyBrew's 2013 goal to have brewed all-grain batches of beer in all 23 of the BJCP categories (see SheppyBrew Styles), I needed a Belgium Strong Ale. I honestly had no idea which subcategory to brew. So, I did an online poll (see Poll: which Belgium Strong Ale should I brew?)

After a few days, Belgium Golden Strong emerged as the winner.

I started with the Golden Strong recipe from Jamil's book, modified it a bit with some Munich malt. I also reduced the table sugar a bit, and voila, I had myself a recipe for a Belgium Golden Strong.

Originally, I called this beer "Idiot's Gold Belgium Strong Ale". My thinking behind the name was Idiot's Gold is like Fool's Gold, only an idiot is a bigger fool than a fool. This beer is a bigger beer than my Fool's Gold. I never really liked that name, though and ended up changing it.

While lying awake in bed one night I thought "NSFW" (Not Safe For Work) would be a good name for a high alcohol beer. I know this isn't a monster in regards to ABV, but it is very high for me, and the name is pretty appropriate. It really is not safe for work (or really anything other than sitting and enjoying safe at home). I'm still not absolutely sure I love this name either, but I like it better than Idiot's Gold. (at least at the moment I do).

Regardless, the beer is yellow to gold in color. It is my highest alcohol beer I have ever made. It should have lots of spiciness in the flavor and aroma along with fruity Belgium esters. The beer should finish real dry with a large portion of the fermentables being a simple sugar. I am looking forward to sipping this on a lazy Friday or Saturday evening after the kids are in bed when I don't have to worry about being anywhere for several hours.

To read more about this beer on my blog check out

#NSFW --- Batch 1

Belgian Golden Strong Ale
Batch Size
5.50 gal
All Grain
Boil Size   7.76 gal
Brewhouse Efficiency   75.00   Boil Time   90 minutes

Recipe Characteristics

Recipe Gravity
1.076 SG
Estimated FG
1.006 SG
Recipe Bitterness
28.7 IBUs (Rager)
Alcohol by Volume
9.2 %
BU : GU   0.379        
Recipe Color
5.5 SRM
Measured OG:    1.077 (est)
  Measured FG:    1.004
ADF:    95   Measured ABV:    9.5


Amt Name Type # %/IBU
10 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 73.7 %
1 lbs 8.0 oz Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 2 10.5 %
0.500 oz Magnum [14.70 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 3 28.7 IBUs
2.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 15.0 mins) Other 4 -
1.00 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 5 -
1.0 pkg Belgian Strong Ale (Wyeast Labs #1388) [124.21 ml] Yeast 6 -
1.0 pkg SafBrew Specialty Ale (DCL/Fermentis #T-58) [23.66 ml] Yeast 7 -
5.00 ml Clarity-Ferm (Primary 2.0 weeks) Fining 8 -
1 lbs 4.0 oz Sugar, Table (Sucrose) (1.0 SRM) Sugar 9 8.8 %
1 lbs Candi Syrup, Golden (5.0 SRM) Sugar 10 7.0 %

Mash Profile

Mash Steps
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash In Add 15.00 qt of water at 159.1 F 148.0 F 75 min

Batch sparge with 2 steps (1.57gal, 3.88gal) of 168.0 F water

Recipe Notes

Make WY 1388 starter a few days ahead of time.
Boil wort adding hops and yeast nutrient as specified, leaving the the sugar out of the wort. Expected OG without sugar is 1.059
Cool to as close to 60 degrees as possible to pitch.
Ferment under 65 for a couple of days, then add 1 pound of sugar.
Ferment another couple days under 65, then add the other pound of sugar.
Let fermentation temp rise.
Leave in fermentor for at least 3 weeks.

Brewing Record

Brew Date:
Strike Temp:   158
Mash Temps:
 146 adjusted to 150. 148 by end
Pre-boil OG   1.055 (1.048 SG)   Pre-boil Vol   7 (7.76 gal)
Actual Mash Efficiency
Pitch Temp    64
Day 1: 64 to 62 active very fast
Day 2: 66 
Day 4: 70 

Brewing Notes:
07/29/2013 esheppy
Brewed yesterday. My pre-boil gravity was low enough that I used DME to bring the gravity up a bit. Everything else went pretty well though. Ended up adding clarity-ferm. Started up before the end of the day.
07/29/2013 esheppy
Temperature has been 62 to 64 so far. Nice active fermentation.
07/30/2013 esheppy
Temp up to about 66 by the end of the day. Bought Belgium Candi Syrup today, changed recipe, and added the syrup.
08/01/2013 esheppy
Started to slow down. Dumped a whole pound of sugar in. Temp at about 70. Hope the yeast are still able to handle this little jolt.
08/06/2013 esheppy
Racked to secondary along with the last 4 ounces of table sugar. Gravity at 1.014. Cloudy. Tastes like I think a golden strong should taste like. Would like this to finish a bit drier.
08/11/2013 esheppy
Beer has cleared up quite a bit since last time I looked at it. Might be time for another gravity reading.
08/15/2013 esheppy
Took another sample. Gravity is at 1.012 ... maybe a hair lower. This comes out to 8.6 ABV. Not as cloudy, but certainly not what I would call clear. Lots of fruity esters. Mostly pear. Perhaps a little light grape. Nice and spicy. Alcohol is there, but certainly not overwhelming or solvent-like. Adding some ultra-ferm to see if I can get it a few points lower.
08/16/2013 esheppy
After adding the ultra-ferm, getting some more fermentation activity. Not sure this was a great idea.
08/17/2013 esheppy
Measured gravity at 1.007. 9.3 abv. This is where I want it. Hope it doesn't go a lot lower. We'll see.
08/19/2013 esheppy
1.004. It is now officially too dry. Can taste the alcohol too. Bummer. I suspected the ultra-ferm was a bad idea. Oh well, mistakes help us learn.
08/24/2013 esheppy
Bottled today with 4.25oz in the keg. Going to call this 1.004, but might be a tad lower. 9.5 ABV. Not liking the taste. Didn't even really bottle all the beer. Dumped some. NOTE to self ... throw away the ultra-ferm. Got 29 12oz bottles, 4 bombers, and one liter bottle. Hoping that carbonation and/or some age adds something to this beer.
08/28/2013 esheppy
The liter PET is already rock-hard. Might have overcarbed this batch. The style guidelines do say "Very highly carbonated", though. We'll see after a couple of weeks.
09/09/2013 esheppy
Had my very first sample. Starts sweet. Finishes dry. Very carbonated. Nice pear flavor with a bit of belgium funk. A little Belgium funk, but not too overpowering. A bit of alcohol warming, but no hot alcohol flavors. Think this turned out pretty good. Dangerous at 9.5% ABV.
09/24/2013 esheppy
I am actually liking this beer. Had a bomber last night during the Broncos game. My concerns at bottling time apparently were not as critical as I thought. It was probably a mistake bottling any liter bottles of this. I was really able to feel the alcohol after a bomber of this.
10/16/2013 esheppy
Think this beer is hitting its sweet spot. Lots of pear fruit esters in aroma and flavor. A bit of spiciness, but almost no phenolic flavor.
12/20/2013 esheppy
Brought some into work finally. We'll see if I get any feedback.
06/07/2014 esheppy
Had one after family bike ride. Gets better with age. Nice sipping beer.
07/31/2014 esheppy
Tried a bottle tonight. Still excellent. Over a year since this has been brewed.
01/11/2015 esheppy
Tried a couple of the competition bottles today. Actually pretty good. Made me fall asleep during the NFC game.
04/26/2015 esheppy
Think I finished off the last couple to soak brats in. Tasted too. Ok. Was much better a few months ago.
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