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New Belgium 1554 Enlightened Ale Clone (All Grain)

March 18, 2012

New Belgium is probably my personal favorite US craft brewery.  I love most every beer I’ve tried from them.  One of my favorites is their 1554 Enlightened Ale.  I find it one of the best, most well-balanced beers I’ve ever tasted.  It is dark, rich and delicious.  I find it very drinkable and not too heavy to be a session beer.  It is one of the few darker beers that I think is great to drink all year round, even on a hot sunny afternoon.

I searched the internet high and low to find a suitable clone recipe.  I found several recipes but each seemed to deviate from the published information on this beer available at the NB web page.  I tried to stick by all of the details they give on this beer and used the close recipes to fill in the gaps when necessary.  Here is where I landed.

Ingredients (5 Gal)
7 lbs Pale 2 Row Malt
0.5 lbs Cara-Pils (for body)
4 lbs Munich Malt
1 oz Black (Patent) malt
10 oz Chocolate Malt
1.1 oz Willamette pellet hops (bittering)
Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager yeast
1 gram Paradise Seed
0.25 oz Coriander Seed

Mash:
Single Infusion
Sparge Water: 1.73 gal
Sparge Temperature: 168F
45 min Mash In Add 3.99 gal of water at 167.0 F to achieve 154.0 F
10 min Mash Out Add 2.89 gal of water at 190.4 F to achieve 168.0 F

Boil:
Boiled for 1 hour. Propane tank froze up with 15 minutes to go.  I had to swap out tanks.  Took a few minutes to bring it back to a boil.  So, my boil lasted a little longer than an hour.  Volume was too much.  ~5.8 gallons.  Not sure what happened.  I think the tank freezing caused less water to evaporate.  Not sure what else.  Brewery Eff was only 69%. But, I ended up with more wort than planned so, accounting for that, the Brewery Eff was actually closer to 75%.  Not sure a mash-out is really necessary.   SRM looked right on at about 22. Beer looks right on track to achieve 5.6% ABV if yeast does its job.

Fermentation:
Fermenting using a lager yeast at ale temperatures in accordance with the notes on the New Belgium web page.  I am trying to keep the room between 64-70 degrees.  Beer was steadily and gently bubbling next morning and continued through 4-5 days.  However, it abruptly stopped fermenting after I transferred it to the secondary.  This was my first stuck fermentation.  The SG didn’t budge from 1.018 for a week after transfer.  We sought advise on what to do from the homebrew store.  It appears I underpitched since this is lager yeast.  I thought fermenting at ale temps would mean I’d only need 1 smack pack.  But the beer was >5 gallons which is actually borderline for 1 smack pack with ale yeast.  We added 1 package of dry Saflager 35/70 yeast, which I was told was the same strain as the Wyeast 2124.  The beer did start going again for about a day, but then stopped.  I let it ferment another 3.5 days and I was able to get the gravity down to about 1.017.  In the future if this happens again, I would create a yeast starter and pitch all of the starter when the yeast is at its peek activity (per the Yeast book).

Carbonation:
Beer finished a little early.  It should have gone all the way to a SG of 1.014.  The beer may be a little sweet because of this.  If I brew it again, I will mash at a lower temp and pitch a lot more yeast.  I used 2 oz DME to bottle condition 1.4 gallons (15 bottles) targeting 2.6 vols CO2.  I kegged the rest (almost 3 gallons).  I only did 15 bottles because I thought the fermentation was stuck and wasn’t sure it would carbonate.  It turned out it was fine.

Tasting:
The beer had a slight “sulfury” smell.  This faded as the beer sat in the keg.  I think this might have resulted from the high fermentation temperature for the lager yeast.  I don’t notice this in the NB version, so perhaps they use a different lager yeast.  I might try again using the California Steam Ale yeast or a different lager yeast. The yeast says it can be fermented at 75 degrees and not have sulfur production.  Perhaps this is a good yeast for this beer, but I needed to ferment warmer? I also added coriander seed and seeds of paradise.  I’m not really sure what they added to the beer, but it did have a spicy taste that I didn’t think went well with the beer.  I would avoid adding this in the future.  My version has a more chocolaty aroma while the NB version is smells more citrusy. My beer is more bitter.  It has a slight astringent flavor, possibly from the spices or the fermentation temp.  I definitely pick up the coriander aroma in the original.  Perhaps more coriander and less or no pepper.  Mouthfeel and color are spot on.  Head retention is about the same.  Mine could be a little sweeter or slightly less bitter.

Details:
Vol of CO2: 2.6
SRM: 22
OG: 1.057
FG: 1.017
ABV: 5.3%
IBU: 20
Brewery Eff: 75%
App. Attenuation: 70%

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. sivart Bastardaton permalink
    May 19, 2012 12:31 am

    clearly not 1lb BP, thats 35 SRM all on its own!

    • philippians1v21 permalink*
      May 19, 2012 9:32 am

      Yes, very correct. Thanks for pointing that out. I updated the post to say 1 oz.

  2. skybison permalink
    March 6, 2013 2:27 pm

    Made nearly identical to your recipe… Let it primary 3 weeks, secondary D-rest for 2 days then at 50-60 F for nearly 2 months; then bottle conditioned another 2 months at 40 -44 F. Used Bohemian lager yeast; 1 oz BlackPatent malt but all 10 oz Chocolate malt. Great gonzo ABV (OG at 1.063 finished at 1.015). Heck of a thick dark beer… but, Afraid I’m not super happy… odd bitter-cigar flavor coming thru. Not horrible.. but not right either. Maybe should have heeded Seed of P and Corriander warning? I’m leaving out next time. I even added 1 tsp of vanilla (pure)… maybe made it worse? Still wonder if NBelg doesn’t use mixture of Lager and Belgian-Ale yeasts to get “corriander” aroma?

    • philippians1v21 permalink*
      March 6, 2013 3:15 pm

      Skybison,
      Thanks for letting me know how it turned out. Your gravity did turn out a little higher than mine (1.063 vs. 1.057). It looks like your brewery efficiency was higher than my 75%. Your Apparent Attenuation was also higher than mine. With my starting gravity, I only ended up with a final ABV of 5.3%. New Belgium’s published ABV for the beer is 5.6%, so I was pretty close (actually a tad low). So I don’t think the grain bill was too much (at least not for my setup). You would probably need to adjust the bill for your brewery efficiency and attenuation.

      As I noted above, the Wyeast 2124 is good to ferment higher (up to 75 degrees). One possibility is that you were fermenting it too low? I might try raising the temp next time I brew it. But I agree, I would be interested in playing around with both the yeast(s) used and the fermentation temperature. The only information that NB has on the yeast is that it is a lager yeast strain. Wyeast 2124 should be a pretty safe bet, but who knows.

      I would be interested to know how it tastes without the corriander and pepper. There is certainly some citriusy corriander flavor there in the original, but I might eliminate the pepper altogether.

      As far as the thickness/mouthfeel and color, I thought mine was right on to the original. I wouldn’t change anything here.

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