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Showing posts from January, 2018

2018 Dubbel v1.0

I have made a number of Belgian Dubbel recipes over the years. All of them have been nice enough beers to drink, but none have approached what (in my mind) is a truly good Belgian Dubbel.  I've even tried my hand at a recipe or two of my own design, with a similar lack of success.  Recently, I think I figured out why.

I've been keeping my beer's color within the BJCP guidelines of 14-17 SRM.  The genuine Belgian Dubbels I've liked the most are rated with colors as dark as 41 SRM.  These Dubbels, instead of being brown with a tinge of copper, are more of a dark ruby red.  This time, I worked to get a color and grist that seemed right to me and ignored the BJCP color guideline (while staying within the others).  I'm anxious to see how this one turns out.  I'm looking for a slightly-sweet, deep ruby color, with a strong dark fruit flavor and some noble hops aroma.

Recipe
3.25 pounds Belgian Pilsen Malt
2 pounds Munich Light Malt
5 ounces Carapils/Dextrine Malt
8 o…

Belgian Single v2.3 (Lonely Monk)

I've been tweaking my Belgian Trappist Single recipe for some time now. Each iteration has gotten me a little closer to my goal, which is a Single that I'm happy to drink and which (I hope) would do well in competition.  My last version, made in July 2017, came the closest yet.

The previous version could have used more floral/herbal notes in the aroma, so I've added a late hopping with Hallertau Mittelfruh to provide that.  I include coriander and sweet orange peel in the recipe to help provide some fruity notes, too.

I've also included a ferulic acid rest in the mash to provide the yeast with the precursors needed to increase esters and phenols.  I recently read that this is common in many Belgian breweries.  The same source also suggested a two-step mash, with the first step at 145F and the second at 162F, so I included those in the mash as well.

It wasn't as clear as it could be, so I'm treating it with White Labs Clarity Ferm in primary and plan to add gel…

Dragon Stout Clone 1.0 (Jamaican Me Thirsty)

When I visited Jamaica several years ago, a bartender at our resort introduced me to Dragon Stout, their local beer.  I loved it.  I ended up going shopping and buying a lot of the local beers, but nothing appealed to me as much as Dragon Stout and its higher-alcohol cousin, Dragon Stout Spitfire. Truth be told, I liked Spitfire just a little more. I brought some back with me.

Having re-read a BYO Magazine article about Debittered Black Malt (note: a subscription is required to access the article), I was reminded that they had published a recipe for a Dragon Stout Clone there. As documented below, it's slightly modified from their version and is scaled for use in the Picobrew Zymatic.  I also switched out the corn sugar in their recipe for some Turbinado sugar, which I thought might lend a more brown-sugar flavor to it.

Recipe
7.25 pounds 6-row Pale Malt
0.50 pounds Crystal 80L Malt
0.50 pounds Debittered Belgian Black Malt
1.00 pounds Turbinado Sugar
0.60 ounces of Magnum hops @ …

2017 The Year in Beer

With 2018 staring me in the face, it seemed like a good time to take a look back at 2017 from the perspective of my home brewing activities.  What did I accomplish?  What did I learn?  Did I improve?  Did I contribute anything to the hobby?  What's next for me?

What Did I Accomplish?
I read that the average home brewer makes 8.3 batches per year. This year, I made 35 unique batches representing 20 different styles, which I guess places me well above the average.

The styles I made most often were Belgian Strong Dark, Belgian Dubbel, and Extra Special Bitter (ESB).  I've been trying to master the Belgian styles and come up with recipes that will be my "go to" versions of the styles.

I managed to make beer using three different equipment configurations this year.  I made most using the iMake Grainfather RIMS system.  Several were made using a setup cobbled together from a sous vide cooker, induction cooktop, kettle, strainer, and Ziploc bag.  (One of those batches became…

Chasing a Golden Dragon - version 1.0

The beer that really opened my eyes to the wonder of Belgian ales was Gulden Draak from Van Steenberge in Belgium. This is described by the brewery as a "Dark Tripel" rather than a Quadrupel or Dark Strong Ale.  It's a sweet, but not cloying, reddish dark brown ale with a strong dark fruit presence.  It gets a thick tan head that lasts a while. The aroma is sweet and fruity, with some perfume-like hops.  There are hints of chocolate in the flavor, but mostly dark fruit and caramel malt. The finish is sweet.  It's not a beer you would drink as a session ale, since it's a bit on the sweeter, stronger side.

The official web site describes the beer as having a "complex taste with hints of caramel, roasted malt and coffee in combination with the creamy hazel head."  Wine yeast is used in secondary fermentation. They also list the following details:
10.5% alcohol23 degrees Plato (which works out to a gravity of 1.096 SG) In Draft magazine, I found that the IB…