Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Debby's Dubbel 2.0

Back in October 2016, I brewed a Belgian Dubbel I named after my later mother.  It's one of my wife's favorite beers I've made, but sadly not one of my own.  I liked it, but I believed it could be much better.  Tonight, I tweaked the recipe a bit and brewed a one-gallon batch of it.

I used the Sous Vide cooker to handle mash and sparge water, and an induction cooktop to perform the boil.  While I'm still working out volume and efficiency calculations on the setup, I'm getting a little closer each time I do it.


1 pound, 12 ounces German Pilsner Malt
3 ounces Cara-Pils/Dextrine Malt
3 ounces Special B Malt
1 ounce Melanoidin Malt
4 ounces D-45 Candi Syrup
0.2 ounces Styrian Goldings hops pellets @ 6.4% AA 60 min
0.2 ounces Czech Saaz hops pellets @ 3.2% AA 5 min
1/8 tsp. Irish Moss
Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity Ale Yeast

For this version of the recipe, I dropped the Caramunich I malt. I switched from D-90 syrup to D-45 syrup, and increased the percentage of Special B malt.  My hope was that these changes would reduce the caramel note in the original beer and increase the dark fruit flavors.  This remains to be seen.'

BeerSmith provides the following characteristics for this brew:

  • Style: Belgian Dubbel
  • Estimated OG: 1.071 SG
  • IBUs: 23.1
  • Color: 17.0
  • Est. ABV: 7.3%
  • Total Grains: 2.44 pounds
  • Total Hops: 0.40 ounces
  • Bitterness Ratio: 0.323 IBU/SG
  • Estimated Pre-boil Gravity: 1.044 SG
  • Estimated Final Gravity: 1.016
  • BH Efficiency: 80.0%
  • Batch Size: 1.00 gallons
  • Boil Time: 60 minutes
After brewing, the actual numbers were:
  • Original Gravity: 14.0 Brix (1.057 SG)
  • BH Efficiency: 75.4%
  • Batch Size: 1.2 gallons
  • Bitterness: 21.2 IBUs
  • Color: 15.3 SRM
  • Est. ABV: 5.7%

So, unfortunately, I overshot the volume about 20% and ended up 15 SG points lower in gravity. These are things I'll need to adjust my calculations for in the future.


For this recipe, I placed approximately 3 gallons of water in a stock pot and attached a Sous Vide cooker.  I set the cooker to 156F and let it heat the water to temperature.  When it was at temperature, I measured 3.5 quarts and put that in a plastic zipped bag and placed the bag back in the stock pot, clipped to the side.  When the water in the bag reached the mash temp, I stirred in the grain.

Grain (from an earlier batch) mashing in Sous Vide setup
A 60-minute mash was performed, after which an iodine test confirmed conversion.  The cooker was set to 170F and left for 15 minutes to heat.  After 15 minutes, the wort was at a mash out temperature, so I turned off the cooker, removed the bag, and emptied it into a strainer over a 4-gallon stock pot on my induction cooktop.  While the grain drained, I turned on the cooktop.  Leftover water in the stock pot was used to sparge the grain.  By the time the grain was sparged, the wort was at boil.  Pre-boil volume was not measured, but pre-boil gravity was 9.0 Brix, lower than the 11.0 expected.

Grain in the strainer above the stock pot and induction cooktop


A 60-minute boil was performed, with the following schedule:

  • 60 minutes: Add Styrian Goldings hops pellets
  • 15 minutes: Add Irish Moss
  • 10 minutes: Add D-45 syrup
  • 5 minutes:  Add Czech Saaz hops pellets
  • 0 minutes:  Turn off the heat, whirlpool the wort, remove the hops strainer balls
When the wort had cooled down a bit, it was poured into a glass fermenter.  I measured the final wort volume at 1.2 gallons and 14.0 Brix (1.057 SG) gravity.

Wort beginning to boil


To maximize the esters and phenols associated with the Belgian yeast, I decided to let this one ferment at whatever temperature it reached. After a week, I'd place it in a warm location and keep it around 76F for another week.  

Wort in the fermenter waiting to cool down to pitching temp

Post-Mortem and Notes

Including some interruptions, I completed this batch in under four hours elapsed time.  That's much quicker than I've done a 5-gallon batch.  The time also includes cleanup.

Since I am still working out the details of the one-gallon setup, I wasn't surprised to see that I overshot the volume slightly (though much less than most of the brews I've done with it to date) and undershot the gravity.  Brew house efficiency on this batch worked out to about 75.4%.  I think I'll use 75% as my expected efficiency from here on out and see if I get closer to my goals.

Update 08/12/2017:  The finished beer is very drinkable and smooth.  However, it's a far cry from the flavor profile I wanted.  It's basically a malty, caramel-ish, very mildly sweet brew with hints of Belgian yeast attributes.  The dark fruit flavor and medium body I was looking for isn't here.  Time to go back to the drawing board and make a v3.0.

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