Sunday, November 19, 2017

Leffe Blond Clone

I knew I'd been lazy, but over one year since my last post? Oh, that's right, i posted a meme on my Facebook mirror site a few months ago, but that took about a minute and a half of my time. To be fair, though, beer blogging is a lower priority that actually making beer. Or actually drinking beer, for that matter.

Anyhow, here i am in between hop additions in my Leffe Blond clone mini-mash, and I figured I should post my vain attempt rather than write it on the white board for the kids to wipe off so they can write "Daddy's a poopy head" or something equally witty.

But this time is different, in more ways than one.

This time, I've done additional research, and made a few changes to try and get even a little bit closer to my target beer. And not a moment too soon, either, considering I'm attempting one of the greats.

For my last birthday, i received a very generous gift voucher, so I thought that I better buy something worthy of the occasion. It just so happened that a local bottle shop had a special on Leffe Blond, and I've been partaking on special occasions ever since (i.e. Fridays). It is truly a great beer. Its website describes Leffe Blond as having "hints of vanilla and clove infuse the beer with an even smoother flavour, which best expresses itself in a Leffe chalice, simultaneously allowing the soft, fresh essence of this beer to unveil its true elegance".

I'm sorry, but that just tempts me to chuck in some actual vanilla so I can say that it has overtones of vanilla. Hey, i don't care how it tastes like Leffe Blond, but if I get there, I'd be stoked. Anyway, a good scorer beats a good player, so they say. However, having my wort already cooling, I'm going to resist cheating. In that particular instance, at least.

Anyway, down to business. *Burp*. No, not that business, although the mystery beer I'm drinking due to the fact that I couldn't find a Sharpie is rather nice, whatever it is.

I originally planned to make my clone a little less alcoholic, due to the smaller margin of error when making stronger beers, but then i found some leftover Briess Bavarian Wheat dry malt extract, which is indeed excellent for this beer, so alas, my clone is expected to have a true 6.5% alcohol by volume. Plus bottle sugar, so make that 6.8%. Sadly, i'll just have to drink even more alcohol in my beer. It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it.

So, my ingredients used were:
  • 1.5kg wheat liquid malt
  • 1kg light dry malt
  • 300g Briess Bavarian Wheat dry malt extract 
  • 500g cracked Vienna malt 
  • 1kg dextrose
  • 8g Mangrove Jack's M21 Belgian Wit dry yeast
  • 15g crushed coriander seed
  • 30g Saaz hops
  • 30g Styrian Goldings hops
  • Finings
The recipe I found had 30g Tettnanger hops for 60 minutes and 20g Saaz hops for 15 minutes, however with lots of packets of Saaz hops and no Tettnanger handy, I went 30g Saaz hops for 60 minutes and 30g Styrian Goldings hops for 15 minutes in lieu, due to the higher alpha acids of Saaz, hence more bittering. yes, I went for more aromatic hops for a higher hops profile due to my research and the fact that previous attempts were sub-optimal.

But first I steeped the Vienna malt grain in 70C water for 30 minutes before adding to the brew for a 60 minute boil.

Additionally, I added 15g of crushed coriander seed courtesy of my local Asian grocery store, which is a whole lot easier than doing it in a mortar and pestle, and finding the odd stray coriander seed shell floating in my guest's beer. Oops.

Other changes this beer include adding finings for the first time EVER, despite brewing for over ten years. This was due to the 500g of cracked Vienna malt, of which tends to add to cloudiness. The finings is supposed to make all of the solids in suspension drop to the bottom, so I will be adding a day or two before bottling. The other change is additional priming (at considerable risk, I might add, with summer approaching) to better represent the higher carbonation of Belgian wheat beers. This is not obvious due to the typically fine head of Belgian wheat beers, but, as I learned today, it is indeed a feature of them.

I did also make one other change, which I did recently upon advice, which was to use LESS yeast, in order to make the yeast work harder, which apparently brings out the full flavour profile of the yeast. 

But wait! There's more! I nearly forgot. I also avoided rinsing the steeped Vienna malt grain in order to avoid adding any unwanted bitter or other off flavours. Many suggest that you pour boiling water through the remaining grain to extract more flavour, however, like coffee, the law of diminishing returns apply, and the price of quantity is quality, and Leffe Blond is not a quantity beer. If I wanted a Budweiser, I'd spit in my water, add alcohol, and call it "beer".

Now I just have to remember the finings and extra priming sugar for the bottles, and hopefully my beer will vaguely resemble Leffe Blond.

If it tastes anything life Leffe Blond, i'll be very, very happy. 

I'll ferment at 21C for probably 3 weeks to ensure full fermentation so that I can add slightly more sugar in priming the bottles, with confidence. However, with summer approaching, I might have to age in the fridge at maybe 19C to avoid bottle explosions,  angry neighbours, and the sight of a grown man crying over lost beer.