The Belgian Single and How To Brew It

Belgian Single

Overview

The Belgian single is a blond, bitter, hoppy beer that has a very dry finish. It has the famous spicy Belgian yeast character that is balanced with a high bitterness and honeyed biscuit malt flavor. The style guidelines are below.

  • Original Gravity: 1.044 – 1.054
  • Final Gravity: 1.004 – 1.010
  • Alcohol by Volume: 4.8% – 6.0%
  • Bitterness: 25 – 45 IBU
  • Color (SRM): 3 – 5

Belgian Single Ingredients

Malt

The Belgian single has a pretty straightforward grain bill. The flavor profile of the Belgian single is bready, honeyed biscuit, so for the base of this beer, we use floor-malted pilsner malt. Weyermann makes a very good example. I would also add a biscuit malt or victory malt to further build up that biscuit flavor.

Hops

The Belgian single has a crisp, dry, bitter hoppy finish with a moderate spicy/floral aroma. To get this, we will need a couple of different hop additions. Use a German noble hop, and add about 25 IBUs worth at a 60-minute addition, 5 IBUs at 15 minutes, and an ounce of the same hop at flameout.

Yeast

For the Belgian single, the following are good choices.

  • Belgian Abbey Style Ale – 1214 (Wyeast)
  • Belgian Strong Ale – 1388 (Wyeast)
  • Belgian Ale Yeast – WLP550 (White Labs)

Water

Last but not least, the water. For all beers I brew, I use a reverse osmosis filtration system and build up my water profile from scratch. My water profile looked like this:

  • Calcium: 50 ppm
  • Sodium: 5 ppm
  • Sulfates: 105 ppm
  • Chloride: 45 ppm

Recipe

The following is a 5-gallon version of a Belgian single. The numbers for this beer are listed below.

  • Original Gravity: 1.057
  • Final Gravity: 1.004 – 1.010
  • Alcohol by Volume: 6.0%
  • Bitterness: 32.3 IBU
  • Color (SRM): 5.7

Grain Bill

  • Floor-Malted Pilsner – 8 lbs 8 oz (89.5%)
  • Biscuit Malt – 1 lbs (9.5%)

Hops/Miscellaneous

  • 2 oz of Mittelfruh at 60 minutes (24.2 IBU)
  • 0.75 lb candi sugar or cane sugar at 60 minutes
  • 1 oz of Mittelfruh at 15 minutes (6.4 IBU)
  • 1 oz of Mittelfruh at flameout

Yeast

Belgian Ale Yeast – WLP550 (White Labs)

Mash

Add your salts and pH adjustment, if needed, and fill your mash tun to the required volume and temperature for your mash to drop to 148 degrees Fahrenheit. We mash at 148 degrees for 75 minutes to ensure the maximum amount of fermentable sugars for that dry finish. For me, the strike water was 3 gallons at 159 degrees Fahrenheit. After 75 minutes, raise your mash temperature to 168 degrees for mash out. After mash out, begin to sparge until you reach a pre-boil gravity of around 1.052. For me, it was 5 gallons.

Boil

Boil the wort for 90 minutes and add the hops and the sugar at 60 minutes. The sugar will further enhance that dry finish. Use either a light candi sugar or cane sugar – either will work. At 10 minutes, I added a yeast nutrient, and at 5 minutes I added whirlfloc tablets as my clarifying agent. Once the boil is complete, whirlpool the wort for 10 minutes and then let it wind down for 10 minutes.

Fermentation

Knock the wort out in your heat exchanger so that the pitching temperature is 64 degrees and measure the gravity/pitch the yeast. Initial gravity should be around 1.057. I let this free rise to 67 degrees as fermentation starts. Hold the temperature at 67 degrees for 5-7 days until the primary fermentation starts to slow down, and then let the temperature free-rise up to 72 degrees. Hold it here for a day or two to make sure fermentation completely finishes. Once fermentation is complete, cold crash to 33 degrees, hold it for at least a day, and then transfer to the brite tank to carbonate it to 2.6 vols. After 3 days in the brite tank, keg it, and enjoy!

If you decide to try this recipe, or another Belgian single recipe, feel free to send us a comment and let us know how it went! And if you want to see more recipes like this, sign up for our newsletter below to be notified when a new post is released. Cheers!

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