West Flanders Red Ale

West Flanders Red Ale

(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.057  FG = 1.002–1.012
IBU = 11  SRM = 13  ABV = 6.5%

5 lbs. 5 oz. (2.4 kg) Vienna malt
2 lbs. 8 oz. (1.1 kg) Pils malt
15 oz. (0.43 kg) aromatic malt
15 oz. (0.43 kg) Belgian Caravienne malt
2 lbs. 2 oz. (0.96 kg) raw wheat
5.0 oz. (0.14 kg) special B malt
3 AAU Hallertau hops (60 mins) (0.75 oz./21 g of 4.0% alpha acids)
2.0 oz. (57 g) oak cubes (medium toast)
Wyeast 3763 (Roeselare Blend) or White Labs WLP655 (Belgian Sour Mix)

Step by Step
Use 1.33 quarts of water perpound of grain (2.8 L/kg). Dough-in 90% of the malted grains to hit 122 °F (50 °C), and hold for 20 minutes. Mash the unmalted wheat and remaining 10% of the malted grain at 145 °F (63 °C) and hold for 15 minutes, then add the adjunct mash to the main mash. Traditionally, brewers use a multi-step mash schedule:

Raise to 145 °F (63 °C) and hold for 40 minutes, then raise to 162 °F (72 °C) and hold for 30 minutes. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with a single step of about 158 °F (70 °C), to promote the formation of “unfermentable sugar” to make the yeast and bacteria work a little harder. Raise to 169 °F (76 °C), and hold for 10 minutes. When finished, sparge with 176 °F (80 °C) water.

Boil for 2 hours at a rolling boil. Cool the beer to 70 °F (21 °C) and pitch it with your yeast blend into a carboy. The Roeselare culture is a complete blend of all of the yeasts and bacteria necessary for fermentation. Ferment at 70 °F (21 °C). Once visible signs of fermentation have finished, rack with the equivalent of 2.0 oz. (57 g) of oak cubes for 5 gallons (19 L) into a second carboy.

Put it in a corner at ambient temperature and wait (and wait). With time, a thin white film (pellicle) will form on the top of the beer. Eventually, you will sample the beer and determine that it is ready. Bottle with new yeast and your desired amount of priming sugar. As always, save me a bottle.

Issue: January-February 2007

A sour/acid ale recipe inspired by the brewers of the West Flanders region of Belgium. Brewers need to be patient for the proper acidity and character to develop in this beer.