So here we go, I set out making my belgium old and peculiar. I will be doing a partial mash, that is some of the ingredients are real malted barley but i’ve made up the rest with extract. The reason for this is equipment – to do an all grain brew of 19L I’d have to be able to boil and cool (quickly) about 20L of fluid.

The first thing I did was in the morning boil 10 L of water to sterilise it and let it cool while covered over a few hours.

In the recipe I’ve chosen 1 kg of belgium pale malt and 250g of black malt (to give it the dark colour). I mashed these between 62-65 degrees C.

Here is my mash, I’m using a method I found:

It uses a fine nylon bag to keep the malt husks separate so I don’t need a mash tun with a false bottom or manifold – I can do it all on the stove top.

What I’m doing here is converting starches to soluble sugars. The bag of malt is kept in the water for about 30 minutes. The ‘spurge’ is replicated by using the bag like a tea bag in some more water at 65C for about 10 minutes so a little more starch can also be converted to sugar. I hit an efficiency of about 70% using this method which is really quite good.

After removing the bag and combining all the liquid I brought it to a boil and after the hot break (the foam appearing on the top) added the first of the hops. Using the same hops as Old Peculiar -> 60g of fuggles (2010 harvest 6.1% AA) these are known as the bittering hops as they are added at the start of the boil.

I added more hops 30 mins into the boil and 15 minutes from the end which contribute more to the aroma than the bitterness. I used the same (cleaned) bag that I used for the grain to boil the hops.

After an hour of boiling (total) the hot wort has to be cooled as quickly as possible, this is best achieved using some sort of chiller system but I did it just by immersing the outside of the pot in cold water in the sink. I had to change the water 4 or 5 times but I got the temperature down to 30C within about half an hour. The cooled wort is then added to the 10L of preboiled water I had waiting in my fermenting bucket vigorously. The whole lot is agitated to get some air in there – it is important at this stage apparently.

So there it is, my brewday complete. The gravity of the cooled wort turned out to be 1.073 which was exactly what I was aiming for! More luck than judgement though I think.


The fermenter stashed in the cellar where it will remain for some time. This is a long brew, it needs at least a week in this – then if I can I will rack it into a secondary fermenter for another couple of weeks then bottle. The bottles will need aging for several months though I think. I might add some champagne yeast at bottling.