Belgian dark cherry brew

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Brewing can punish those of us who lose focus. It demands attention to detail. Today, I was distracted by manager duties, tasting an onion ring. Quickly forgetting that I was pumping hot water into the mash tun to raise my mash temperature, I believe I meandered into the bar, pouring a beer, admiring a picture we just hung.

40 gallons of hot water later, the mash tun was at maximum capacity. I was left with no hot sparse water. Deciding to lauter some into the kettle, I tried to perform a mix of a one stage decoction and step mashing. Losing efficiency at the expense of extra caramelization.

Roasted barley was added at the end of the mash so that its acridness would be minimized, but hopefully the color will remain.

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Lots of hops were added: Zythos and New Zealand Topaz. These were concentrated towards the end of the boil so that the flavors would be imparted without too much bitterness. The massive quantity of hops would tip the IBU scale past 100 if they were added at the beginning of the boil. I’ve heard this technique called hopbursting, and commercial examples can be found in any of the delicious hoppy wheats that our local breweries make: Boulevard 80 Acre and Tallgrass Halycon Wheat.

This dark IPA has a Belgian twist: Wyeast Trappist High Gravity, which should impart fruity esters and spicy phenols. In the tradition of Belgian high gravity ales, the original gravity measured out a modest 1.050 (give or take, this would produce a beer with 5.5% abv depending on many other factors). Fermentable sugars will be added during the fermentation process, slowly raising its alcohol content. Dark cherry flavor will be administered twice in the process: frozen dark cherries added to the conical after the primary fermentation, and then dark cherry extract will be added during packaging, along with copious amounts of whole cone hops.

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