Wisconsin Belgian Red - New Glarus

>> Monday, May 27, 2013

Today is Memorial Day and I'm brewing a clone of Wisconsin Belgian Red from New Glarus Brewing. I've never had the commercial brew but I have had some of their other beers and they are pretty amazing. I know not everyone likes fruit beers, but New Glarus does them right.

My recipe is based on the one that appeared in the July-August 2007 issue of Zymurgy magazine. I'm using a combination of tart cherries and Trader Joe's Cherry Juice instead of the Knudsen's Tart Cherry Juice. I also opted to use Belgian Pilsner malt. Here's the recipe as I'm making it:

5.0 # Dingemans' Belgian Pilsner
2.0 # Weyermann's White Wheat Malt
6.0 oz Crystal 40L
0.5 oz Roasted Barley
28.3g Aged Hops (60 min)
Wyeast 3942 Belgian Wheat Yeast in 1L starter
0.25 oz American Oak cubes soaked in Pinot grigio (secondary)
1 gallon Trader Joe's Cherry Juice (secondary)
4.0 # Tart Cherries (secondary)

Mash at 156F for 60 min. Collect 5 gallons. 60 min boil. Ferment at 65F

Brewing Notes:
Everything went well during the brew session. However, after racking to the fermenter I realized my fermentation chamber wasn't cooling. The compressor is running but no chilling, so it's not looking good. This brew is going to have to ferment at room temp...no bueno. On the bright side, some friends recently gave us an old upright freezer so my wife said I could turn our old chest freezer into a keezer. I wasn't in any hurry to do so but since the ferm chamber just died and summer right around the corner, I'll need to figure something out. I think I'll probably proceed with the keezer plans and turn my old kegerator into a fermentation chamber. Anyway, this is a really pretty orange-red brew right now. I imagine it's going to be a really deep red after adding the cherries/cherry juice. Here are a couple pics from the brew session.
Just starting to sparge
First runnings
Update 6/1/2013
Fermentation was extremely active the first few days then dropped off significantly. I think this is the first time I've used this yeast and it seems to be very aggressive.  I went ahead and racked the beer to secondary on top of the Trader Joe's Cherry Juice and four pounds of tart cherries; this thing is going to be a cherry bomb. I don't usually do much to prep my fruit. However, I'm pretty sure the peach/apricot wheat beer I made last summer picked up some bacteria and wild yeast. So in order to avoid a repeat I decided to play it safe this time and heat the tart cherries to 160F to pasteurize. Prior to racking to secondary, the krausen completely dropped. A couple hours after racking I have an inch of krausen again.

Update 6/3/2013
I forgot to add the oak on 6/1/2013 so I added it yesterday. Here are a couple more pics.

Update 6/14/2013
I kegged this brew today. two weeks might seem a little soon for a Belgian style beer on cherries, but keep in mind there aren't any brett or bugs in this brew that would benefit from an extended feeding time. I tasted a sample and it's delicious. I can't wait for this to carb up.

Update 8/5/2013
This beer turned out great and I'm pleased to say it took gold in the Fruit Beer category at the 5th Annual Beehive Brew-off yesterday.