Beer Recipe: “Meiko” Belgian Pale Ale

About 10 batches ago, I brewed a beer modeled after Flying Dog’s “Raging Bitch” Belgian IPA, mostly following a recipe given on the Jamil Show podcast on The Brewing Network.  It turned out really well; friends claimed it was better than the commercial version, but I suspect they just wanted more free beer.  This summer I thought it would be nice to have an easier-drinking pale ale version.  Its named after our new cat, Meiko, who we got about the time this was bottled (and they are surprisingly similar in color).

Batch Size: 5 gal/ 18.9 L

Malt:
8 lb/ 3.63 kg     2-row brewer’s malt (Briess)
1 lb/ 0.45 kg     Aromatic malt (Dingemans)
8 oz/ 227  g      Caramunich III (Weyermann)

Hops:
1 oz/ 28 g            Ahtanum, 4.6%, 10 min, 6 IBU
1 oz/ 28 g            Columbus, 16.3%, 10 min, 21.1 IBU
Total IBU:           27.1 (Tinseth)

Yeast:
1 vial                     WLP400 Belgian Wit

Other:
1 tsp                  Hydrated irish moss (10 min)
1/2 tsp              Wyeast nutrient
30 sec              oxygen, 0.5 micron stone, 2 hours after pitching

Target CO2:     2.5 vol

Gravity:
OG:                    1.052 (73% mash eff; target 1.051, 72% eff)
FG:                    1.012 (77% apparent atten.)
ABV:                  5.75% after conditioning

Water:
Mash temp:          154.2F/ 67.9C (target 154F/ 67.8C)
Mash thickness: 1.5 qt/lb/ 3.13 L/kg
Single infusion mash, single (batch) sparge
Boil time:              60 min

Calculated Profile:

Calcium 47 Sulfate 109.2 Hardness 118
Magnesium 0.1 Chloride 66.4 Alkalinity 23
Sodium 73.8 Bicarbonate 37.3 RA -10

I was pretty happy with this water profile, save for the sodium content, which is just how my water is served up.  I adjusted the sulfate to chloride ratio for a crisper finish (higher sulfates), and used lactic acid to decrease the residual alkalinity.  I added the sparge calcium additions directly to the kettle instead of the sparge water.  This extra calcium is especially important for the flocculation of such a powdery yeast.  (See my water treatment post here.)

Fermentation Temperature: I pitched at 66.5F/19.2C.  Given that it was still pretty cool outside/ in my house, I probably could have started this one a bit warmer, as the ferment never got above 70F/ 21.1C.  With this yeast, a touch warmer would probably bring out a bit stronger of a flavor without any off flavors.

Tasting Notes:

meiko pale ale

“Meiko” Belgian Pale Ale

Appearance: nearly sparkling pale slightly-orange brown if poured without the last eighth or so of the bottle, otherwise some haze from the leftover powdery yeast; pours with a bit of light head, dissipating over about a minute

Aroma: light citrus hops blending with the wit aroma of the yeast

Taste: Just like the aroma but better.  There’s very little actual bitterness, but a fair bit of hop flavor- something closer to a lemony citrus instead of the usual grapefruit.  This limited bitteringproviding just the right amount of balance to the beeris a result of adding all hops at the 10 minute mark, a favorite technique of mine.  The hops interplay wonderfully with the wit character of the yeast; WLP400 is a yeast I will go back to again and again.  Both the hop and yeast flavors linger for quite some time after drinking, but not in a cloying way.  The malt flavor, while not center stage, is well rounded from the aromatic malt (yet another new favorite ingredient of mine) with just a hint sweet from the caramunich malt.  I actually prefer the taste with the extra yeast that pours out with the beer (without swirling the bottle to get all of it); it seems to just be missing something by comparison without it.  [2013.07.30 UPDATE: The hops really dropped out of this beer after 2 months or so, to the point where its a bit too sweet.  I might move some of the hops back to 30 or 20 minutes next time to combat this.]

Mouthfeel: a bit on the watery end of the spectrum, but in a good, refreshing way; medium-high carbonation seems about right for this beer

Overall: This beer turned out to be a fantastic summer quencher.  Its light and crisp enough to go down easy, but not lacking in flavor.  Hops can sometimes be tricky to pair with Belgian yeasts, but I knew this combination worked from a previous brew; it did not disappoint in this formulation.  I’ll soon be using this recipe as a first-brew brewing lesson for some friends of mine who are looking to get into brewing and enjoyed this beer.  When people compliment my brews, I usually assume they are simply angling for more free beer, but I suppose they must have truly enjoyed it if they want to make more for themselves.  I honestly can’t think of anything I would change about this beer, except maybe a bit higher hopping rate (still all at 10 minutes), though that might throw off the balance.

– Dennis,
Life, Fermented

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About Dennis
Home brewer, home chef, garage tinkerer. Author of Life Fermented blog.

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