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Author Replies
frankreitz
04/10/08 03:32 PM  
Soft mouthfeel
Hi all

I like to brew up Dark Belgian Strong ales but I have never achieved to get that deliciously soft mouthfeel that Westvleteren and Struise Pannepot has.

I tried flaked oats but I don't think it comes close at all.

What's the secret? Water treatment or Candi Syrup or....

Thanks

/Frank

SteveG
04/10/08 03:37 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Not knowing exactly what you mean I'll throw this out...could it be a very tight bubble?
Frank Reitz
04/10/08 03:49 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
What I'm talking about is a silky mouthfeel. Have a westy 8 or 12 and compare the mouthfeel to a Westmalle dubbel.

Tight bubble.. Could be. Is there such a thing? How can I achieve a tight bubble?

Thanks

/Frank

Baums
04/10/08 05:03 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
I think of very highly carbonated belgian ale, when it's not too cold, as being "soft." Maybe try increasing your priming sugar to get ~3 volumes (for "standard" beer bottles) or even more like 4 volumes if you're using Belgian bottles that can take it.

Frank Reitz
04/11/08 10:50 AM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Baums, I know what you're thinking of but that's not what I mean. A high carbonated ale not to warm is almost "growing" in your mouth. The high carb can make a dense beer drinkable. It sort of makes it lighter - not softer in my opinion.

Mayby I'm not using the right words, but I'm after the softness of a Westvleteren 8 or 12....

/Frank

Cisco
04/11/08 11:00 AM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
"but I'm after the softness of a Westvleteren 8 or 12...."

Well then I would suggest using Belgian dark candi syrup, normal 2.5 volumes of CO2, a half pound of flaked barley in a 5 gallon batch. I use the flaked barley in my beers for a suttle creaminess in the head and mouth feel.

Frank Reitz
04/11/08 01:44 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Cisco, thanks, good advice.

I think the key may be the syrup since Westvleteren does not use barley in their ales. But whatever works is fine with me. I've never used barley. How much flavour does the barley contribute in those amounts?

/Frank

Cisco
04/11/08 01:57 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
None.
Baums
04/11/08 02:59 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
I was going to mention something else along the lines of what Cisco said--protein content. Things like like Chimay Red, or filtered tripels, often do not taste "soft" to me and I suspect it's due to too much protein dilution in the first case and protein stripping in the second. (or else I am fooling myself) Saison Dupont also does not taste soft to me (which I like in that one) possibly because of the very intense mash schedule in the lower temp region.

Meanwhile, there's plenty of malt in Westvleteren, a moderate mash schedule if I recall correctly, and no centrifugation/fining/filtering.

So possibly your adjunct levels are too high, or you're fining too aggressively, or your protein degradation is excessive in the mash, or some other factor is reducing protein and thus not giving the character you want. How is your head retention and foam? Can you float a matchstick on the foam? Vertically?

(And of course Cisco's raw barley suggestion would increase mid-to-large protein content along these lines.)

SteveG
04/11/08 03:18 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
My "tight" bubble reference may have communicated better if I said "fine bead". I find carbonation that employs a really fine bubble lends itself to a creamier beer. Heavy carbonation that is very fine gives an awesome merengue-like head. When less concentrated I think it makes for a great creamy mouthfeel.
BPotts
04/11/08 03:48 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Steve, I've noticed that in the two oak aged beers I did....An RIS and strong scotch ale....both have a very tight, fine beaded, creamy head. Has anyone else noticed this in their oak aged beers? It's only in the beers with a lot of oak chips, not any of the sours where I only used a bit.

Also, Myabe increase hops rates? Hops are great for the head

tankdeer
04/11/08 04:00 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Ben, so do you think that tannins have something to do with it? Both oak and hops contain a lot of tannins. Too much of which would certainly not be considered "soft"; but perhaps just the right amount?
SteveG
04/11/08 04:38 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Ben, I doubt this is a hard and fast rule, but in general I think slow carbonation tends to come out finer.
Frank Reitz
04/11/08 05:48 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Baums, The head retention on my dark strongs are mostly not so good. I normally have a little chill haze.

About the fine head - I agree with that. At least to the extend that the beers that I had with the soft mouthfeel definately had that creamy head. The opposite of a fine head would be "coca cola head" yes?

Regarding the adjunkt level being too high Westvleteren is said to use up to 20% syrup so maybe it depends more on what kind of adjunkts than the amounts.

BPotts
04/11/08 07:24 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
I know that Steve, but I think, as tankdeer is saying, it might have something to do with compounds released by the oak, like hops....really just an observation.
BPotts
04/11/08 07:26 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
I agree frank, but I've also brewed BDS's with fine head retention. I began adding flaked wheat to some of my light belgian type beers with lower hop rates to help head retention.
SteveG
04/11/08 11:11 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
I think a serious protien structure works very well in concert with a fine bead, resulting in the awesome merengue-like head I mentioned. I brought this up cause I never heard of something like flaked barley or any other adjunct serving the same purpose being in Westy 12 or 8.

I would think tannins would have the opposite impact, but it is an interesting line of thinking. Do you have examples of tannins effecting a beer in this way?

Frank, yeah. Coca Cola head - I personally call it "Sprite head" - would be the opposite of the fine bead head. Fast, very high pressure force carbonating with lots of shaking is the best way I know to get the soda pop effect, bleech!

tankdeer
04/12/08 02:35 AM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
<<I would think tannins would have the opposite impact, but it is an interesting line of thinking. Do you have examples of tannins effecting a beer in this way?>>

Steve, One thing I know is that in highly hopped beers I have made in the past, (IPA, DIPA) is that they often times have very good head retention. And it could certainly have something to do with the tannins from the hops, IMO.

BPotts
04/12/08 10:32 AM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
You mean commercial examples Steve, or homebrewed?

It's well documented that hops help retention, but nobody REALLY knows why....

SteveG
04/13/08 10:09 AM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Ben, I guess either. Though commercial samples would make it possible to do a little fun testing! Where is it documented? I'd be interested in checking that out.

tankdeer, interesting. I never really looked at hopping that way. I think next weekend I'll pick up a few carefully selected bottles and test that. To your knowledge does gravity play a part here? For instance would it be fair to pour a medium strength hop monster next to a Duvel? Or would something like a Racer V next to a Chimay GR make more sense?

BPotts
04/13/08 11:21 AM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Steve....in terms of testing commercial examples (at least for the hops thing) i think forced carbonation is going to effect how the results can be seen. I've always noticed great head retention in my own bottle conditioned IPA's and IIPA's.....I read an article found on probrewer when I was researching how to go about scaling up a homebrew recipe to 10 bbls and it talks about how it's been noted that hops increase head retention but no one knows why......I just tried looking for it and couldn't come up with it :(....

In terms of the oak, again I guess I can say I've only noticed this difference in my own homebrewed, bottle conditioned beers. I haven't really payed attention to this when drinking commercial beers (but now I will!). The two beers I made with 4 oz of oak came out with the finest, creamiest head I've ever gotten in a beer. In fact, I tasted my third beer yesterday with that high amount of oak ( a dark super saison) and it too had a real fine creamy head. The only other beers I've used oak in have been sours but it wasn't that much (maybe 1 oz.) and don't have good retention in general and the oak didn't seem to help....

BPotts
04/13/08 11:57 AM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
The first link atop the google search for "hops and head retention"

http://www.brewwiki.com/index.php/Head_Retention

There you go....pretty interesting in general.

BPotts
04/13/08 12:00 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Hmmm....no citations though....more articles turn up in the google search too.
tankdeer
04/14/08 12:02 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Steve, I honestly cannot say if gravity plays a roll or not. At very least I would expect it have SOME impact. Although more than likely it's minimal, as I'm sure we've all seen great head on beers all over the board as far as gravity is concerned. And likewise with poor head.

Ben, good point on bottle conditioning. I have noticed this to an extent too. While I rarely bottle condition much these days, except for wild and very high gravity beers (1.100+), and while I do usually get pretty good head retention on my kegged beers; it seems that the head on some of my past bottle conditioned beers seemed a little thicker, and more mousse or merengue like. Perhaps a side by side is in order.

I think it was also noted that a higher carbonation level will help, and from my experience that is certainly true. I also feel that a little age helps, as the carbonation can be a little "rough" on a recently carbonated beer, bottle or keg.

Baums
04/14/08 01:17 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
"Regarding the adjunkt level being too high Westvleteren is said to use up to 20% syrup so maybe it depends more on what kind of adjunkts than the amounts."

This may be true--I guess my point though is that even if Westvleteren use a lot of adjuct, they also use a lot of grain. To get lots of "creamy" proteins, I'd make sure that you have a good 15 Plato worth of gravity just from grain, avoid degrading proteins too much in the mash, and if necessary add big proteins via less modified malt (if you can find any) or raw grains (wheat or barley) as people have mentioned.

Also, is it possible you have plenty of soft creaminess but that something (fusels, ethyl acetate, etc) is obscuring that character?

---

I think this "fine vs. coarse" head thing is more a factor of aging, than of how beer is carbonated. I have a force-carbonated pseudopils that has had great head on it from the time I first poured a glass--but that was 10 days after putting the gas on. And on the flip side, I have seen the coka-cola head on *bottle conditioned* beer when for some reason I tasted it like 4 days after priming. Naturally things got better with a couple weeks aging.

Frank Reitz
04/15/08 11:29 AM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Baums,

I got to think of hard vs soft mouthfeel maybe could be an offect of too many tannins from the mash?

/Frank

Baums
04/15/08 02:49 PM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Seems possible that almost any particular flavor could stick out a lot and mess with whatever we are calling "soft"ness.

How hot are you sparging (and what pH)?

Frank Reitz
04/16/08 12:38 AM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Sparging at 176, PH unknown.

Maybe next time be aware of mash ph and sparge a little less.

/Frank

Baums
04/16/08 10:20 AM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
Yeah, if you have an overextraction problem then sparging less should definitely help.
NArvin
04/17/08 12:54 AM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
I think one factor is that many homebrewers use a lot of dark malts, where Belgian breweries often get color exclusively from dark syrup/sugar.

I would also watch your water chemistry... I doubt that you're extracting tannins if you're using a significant amount of dark malt, but the final pH of the beer could be off. Belgian brewers are known to adjust kettle pH.

Baums
04/17/08 10:26 AM  
Re: Soft mouthfeel
I completely agree--that's a great point about the dark malts.
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