Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A brew day plan for Extract Excellence - Monk Mud

So in our last post we talked about trying to make competition level home brew with Extract.  We debunked some myths, and accepted some realities of home brewing with extract.  Today we will be going through all of the steps of making a Belgian Dark Strong Ale (Quad or Abbey ale or Monk Mud) with malt extract.   From set up and cleaning to pitching the yeast.   Our hope is that this brew day of extract excellence will show you where your extract brew days may be falling short.   Our goal is to produce an extract beer that is worthy of competition.

Before we start, you'll need the following. Experienced home brewers will already have most of the gear they need.
  • Two 5 gallon or larger pots. We'll be using the Cajun injector electric turkey fryer for our main kettle, and a 5 gallon pot for our other kettle.
  • A large muslin grain bag
  • Two smaller muslin hop bag
  • A 6.5 Gallon Fermenter - Do not think you can ferment this high OG beer in a 5 gallon carboy or bucket. 
    • If you do not have, and can not get a 6.5 Gallon Bucket, then you will need to assemble a blow off tube.  
      • 1/2"  tube will fit over the center post on 3 piece air locks
  • A colander large enough to cover one of the kettles.
  • Camden tablets
The Recipe -  Mankind's Monk Mud -
Belgian Dark Strong Ale inspired by Mankind's Monk Mud
5.5 Gallons
OG  1.078
FG   1.014
IBUs 23
SRM 17
ABV 8.4%

6.6 lbs of Pilsen Liquid Malt Extract
2.0 lbs of  Pilsner Malt - have your home brew store crush all grains for you 2x.
1.5 lbs of table sugar 
1.0 lbs of CaraMunch
0.5 lbs of Biscuit
0.4 lbs of Aromatic
0.3 lbs of Special B
0.2 lbs of Chocolate Malt
1.25 oz of Styrian Golding at 60 minutes - 5.25 AA% - 6.56 AAUs 
0/25 oz of Styrian Golding at 15 minutes - 5.25 AA% - 1.31 AAUs
0.25 oz of Hallertauer at 15 minutes - 4.2% AA% - 1.0625 AAUs
0.25 oz of Styrian Golding at 1 minute - 5.25 AA% - 1.31 AAUs
0.25 oz of Hallertauer at 1 minute - 4.2% AA% - 1.0625 AAUs
Yeast - Safale Abbaye, 15 grams (about a pack and a half)
Yeast Nutrient - Wyeast 1.5 tsp

The day before you brew collect 7 gallons of water and treat it with 1/2 of a Camden tablet. This will de-chlorinate the water. Stir it in and let it sit, uncovered overnight.  You may have heard that you can use tap water for extract brewing, but this is not really the case when seeking excellence. You can not use chlorinated water.  If your water is treated with Chloramine (and most are) the boil will not drive it off.  If you skip this step you'll need to go buy 6.5 gallons of filtered or distilled water. Both should be chlorine free.

On brew day before you begin brewing clean and organize everything you will be using.  Separate your hops and place them in separate containers (red solo cups work great) Label the containers with a dry erase marker.  Place your grains in the large muslin bag.  Collect 4 gallons of water in your main boil kettle.  Collect 3 Gallons of water in the other pot.  In the main boil kettle you should add 1.5 tsp of Five star 5.2 stabilizer, stir and begin raising to 161 F.   Pot two you should begin slowly raising to 190 F.   When pot 1 reaches 161 F, Turn off the heat and place the grains into the pot.   Let it sit for 60 minutes. Poke at it and stir it around every 15 minutes. When pot two reaches 190 F Turn off the heat and add the malt extract, stir it around to keep it from caramelizing on the bottom of the pot.  The only fermentables you haven't added yet are the sugar and the raisins.  You will add those in the last 10 minutes of the boil.

After 60 minutes remove the grains (and the bag) from the main kettle.   Place on a colander or rack above the kettle and let the grains drain.  Add the extract and water combination to the main boil kettle and bring to a boil.  Add Hops as directed by recipe.  Add yeast nutrient with 10 minutes to go.

When the wort (or mout to be technically correct) is done boiling.  Chill rapidly.  You must have a wort chiller of some kind for this.   We are looking to get the beer out of the temperature range where DMS can be created, and down to yeast pitch temperatures as quickly as possible.  We will be using our Jaded Hydra Chiller for this.

After chilling the beer.  Transfer to your fermentation vessel.  Aerate well, and pitch your yeast.  We prefer large plastic or glass fermenters.  The key is that it is large enough to handle the fermentation. This beer will blow off in a 5.5 PET container.   So if that is how you ferment, please a fix a blow off tube.

This beer can and should be fermented around 68 F.  We will be putting it in the basement and letting it ride.  We will accept whatever temperatures the basement produces.   We want some of the phenolic and estery flavors from the belgian yeast, so the temperature swings from the basement will help produce.

This is one of my all time favorite beers.   I know if you try it you'll enjoy it to.  I actually prefer this to my all grain version of the same beer.   I think the residual sweetness from the malt extract combined, with the stress that the yeast is under trying to ferment a wort that has a portion of unfermentable sugars, combine to make a nearly perfect monk mud.


  1. How much rasis do I need and when do I add them?

    1. Great Question, here is what we do. We remove about a cup of wort, we put the wort, and a large handful of raisins in a blender and we pulse. Remember hot liquid pulsing expands rapidly. So keep your hand on the lid. We then return the mixture to the boil at about 10 minutes. It gives the beer the special raisin taste that great BDSAs are known for.