Brew Day: Pinch Hit Belgian Pale Ale

With the Summer of ’18 fermenting in my cousin’s cool basement, I’ve decided that brewing Belgian-style beers is the way to go for brewing at home. I picked up a package of Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes yeast at Beer and Wine Hobby when I decided on a whim I wanted to brew Belgian beers this summer. According to reviews on Northern Brewer this yeast can ferment well into the 80s which will be perfect for my apartment which is usually in the 70s.

One of the ways I save money is by planning my batches. If I plan out several beers in a row that use the same yeast, I can harvest yeast from the first beer and reuse it for my subsequent beers without having to buy more yeast. Once yeast is pitched it will multiply during fermentation. It is said that commercial brewers are primarily yeast farmers. As a homebrewer if you’re going to harvest yeast it is important that the yeast was not stressed in a hoppy or boozy environment.

For my first run of Belgian beers I threw together an easy extract Belgian Pale ale recipe. For all the advantages of all-grain or BIAB brewing, there is something to be said for a shorter brew day. There’s nothing wrong with even an experienced brewer doing an extract batch to save time or kick start the pipeline in a pinch. See what I did there!

This recipe only has a pound of Caramunich III malt that I’ll steep in hot water before adding my extract and starting the boil. That’s all I need to do to get the color and flavor from the specialty malt. I’m accordance with my tips for better extract brewing, I’ll add one can before the boil and the second at the end. I was going to use all Pilsner extract but the two cans I had weren’t quite enough to get the starting gravity were I wanted it. I had an extra half pound of Light Dry Malt Extract lying around so I threw that in to make sure I get the alcohol level I’m going for.

For hops I’ll be using Sterling hops. I used them in the original Summer of ’18 and my last American Pale Ale. Sterling is an American hop, but it has a European noble hop lineage. Whenever I’ve used them my beers came out great, but they tasted like a Belgian beer which wasn’t exactly what I was going for. I am very interested to see what the flavor is in a beer that is supposed to be Belgian!

Pinch Hitter Belgian Pale Ale
Belgian Pale Ale
Extract (5.00 gal) ABV: 4.65 %
OG: 1.048 FG: 1.012 SG
IBUs: 25.2 IBUs Color: 9.6 SRM

1 lb – Caramunich III Malt
Steep prior to boil (12.3%) – 56.0 SRM

3 lb 4.8 oz – Pilsner Liquid Extract
Boil (40.7%) – 3.5 SRM

0.75 oz – Sterling
Boil 60 min (20.1 IBUs)
0.25 oz – Sterling
Boil 10 min (1.3 IBUs)
3 lb 4.8 oz – Pilsner Liquid Extract
8.0 oz – Light Dry Extract
Late extract addition (6.2%) – 8.0 SRM
Late extract addition: 10 min (40.7%) – 3.5 SRM

1 pkg – Belgian Ardennes
Wyeast Labs #3522

This is a pinch hitter I’m just hoping gets a solid single to start a rally or move some runners. I’m not expecting a home run here. I hope to have five gallons of solid, drinkable beer for late summer get togethers. If I still have some kicking around in early fall this beer won’t be out of place either. On bottling day I’ll save some of that yeast at the bottom of my fermenter to use in some more ambitious beers.


You can see how dark the wort is after steeping the Caramunich III and before adding the Pilsen extract.


The new grain-mill ready for it’s maiden run.


The wort chiller got the wort to pitching temperture in about 10 minutes.


This is an easy recipe without a ton of ingredients, perfect for a beginning brewer.


The wort is noticably ligher after adding the extract. Once the wort is topped off with water to get to our five gallons it should be the perfect color.


The extract flows out of the can more easily when it’s warm. I keep the cans right next to the kettle.


Wyeast packages their yeast in a “smack pack” that works like a disposable ice pack you used in Little League or keep in a first-aid kit. Once activated the pouch blows up like this.

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