First, about the name: I debated on a name for this beer for a long time. Much longer than normal. Initially, my plan was just to add fruit to Quadruple Grim and label as such. As brew day kept getting pushed back, I kept tinkering with the recipe and entire idea for the beer.
My initial inspiration was Tröegs’ Mad Elf. A holiday classic in my area. It is a quad brewed with cherries and honey. One idea was to use raspberries instead of cherries and straight sugar instead of honey. Then I decided to add some cherry juice as well. Then I decided to skip the sugar. Then I decided to take a step back towards Mad Elf by using Chouffe yeast instead of the Westmalle I originally planned.
Wait, I was supposed to be talking about the name. Right. This is supposed to be my Christmas beer but I did a lot planning for it leading up to Halloween. I have not been in a Christmasy mood. I’ve been watching a ton of movies based on Stephen King books that I’ve read over the last year. A huge number of those movies are based on stories from his first short story collection, Night Shift. I’m also looking at the likelihood that I’ll be working night shift myself for the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Instead of just calling it Night Shift, though, I landed on Night Work, which sounds Halloween-y, but can also be a reference to Santa’s annual trip around the globe. See? Festive.
Anyway, if you haven’t read yesterday’s post about Quadruple Grim, check that out to see how the bulk of the brew day went. I will skip right to where this diverges from that beer now. I devoted the bulk of the wort to the quad and decided to add a bit of water to this one to bring the gravity down, for one to help differentiate the beers and also to hopefully help it get ready to drink quicker. I’m a little down to the wire for a Christmas beer right now, as in my family, Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving (no earlier, but that still comes up quick).
The main difference for this beer is, of course, the fruit. I bought four pounds of fresh raspberries towards the end of the Summer, just before they went out of season when they were on sale and let them get slightly overripe then squished them into freezer bags and hid them in the back of the freezer to wait for this brew day. I also bought two quarts of black cherry juice. I poured them into a glass container and stuck that in the freezer twenty four hours before brew day.
After the boil, I chilled the wort just enough for it to be safe to add it to my plastic bucket fermenter, then I added enough wort on top of the frozen raspberries and cherry juice to take it all to three gallons. The frozen fruit chilled the wort further than I planned on. It ended up being much too cold, in fact. I topped it up to four gallons with warm water, but it was still to cold to pitch the yeast, so I stuck it next the heater and gave it a couple hours to get to a more appropriate temperature before pitching.
As I mentioned, I used Chouffe yeast, packaged as WLP 550 – Belgian Ale. I’ve never used this yeast before but it is said to be very versatile, good for a wide variety of Belgian beers. I chose it because I’ve heard it is similar to what Tröegs uses for Mad Elf. It is very spicy and that is what I’m looking for. The fruit itself will provide plenty of fruitiness, I need spice for balance.
With the added water, I ended up settling on a much lower gravity, but I think it was a good decision. I have enough strong beers for this Winter between Triple Valor, Quadruple Grim, Old SMaSHy and, of course PROOF. This should be a good hearty dark beer, livened up by fruit with a modest ABV. I’m very excited.
Style: Belgian Brown Ale with Fruit
Brew Date: October 28, 2014
Serve Date: Winter 2014/2015
Expected FG: 1.010
Approximate ABV: 4.6%
60% German Pilsner
24% American Munich
10% English Dark Crystal 150L
6% Flaked Wheat
4 lb of “frozen fresh” raspberries and half a gallon of Dark Cherry Juice
Hops (approximately 7 gallon boil, some wort used for different beer)
2 oz East Kent Goldings @ 60 min
White Labs WLP 500 – Belgian Ale (Chouffe)