Sunday, February 11, 2018

Tripel Karmeliet Clone 1.0

My homebrew version on left, actual Tripel Karmeliet on right
Bosteel's Tripel Karmeliet is one of the best Belgian Tripels on the market. The official web site (linked earlier) claims that what makes the beer unique is its blend of three grains, which they claim is a recipe dating back to 1679. Roel Mulder, on his Lost Beers web site, researched the original recipe and shared it with the world.  I scaled that recipe to the 2.5 gallon capacity of the Zymatic and gathered the ingredients to brew it.

The photo at the right is of the actual finished home brew and of a bottle of the real Bosteel's beer, poured within seconds of one another.

Recipe

6 pounds Belgian Pilsen malt
2 pounds White Wheat malt
1 pound Flaked Oats
1.5 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh hops @ 4.0% AA (60 min.)
0.5 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh hops @ 4.0% AA (30 min.)
3.5 gallons water
1/2 vial Clarity Ferm
1 packet Wyeast 1388 Belgian Strong Ale yeast

Note:  I have since read an unsubstantiated report that Bosteels uses a Goldings hop variety in their Tripel rather than the Hallertau Mittelfruh reported in Mulder's recipe.  This is something I'll consider doing if I brew this again.

Mash schedule
  • Dough in at 102F for 20 min.
  • Ferulic Acid Rest at 113F for 10 min.
  • Protein Rest at 120F for 10 min.
  • Mash step 1 at 145F for 20 min.
  • Mash step 2 at 157F for 46 min.
  • Mash out at 175F for 20 min.
Boil schedule
  • 60 minutes - Add 1.5 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh
  • 30 minutes - Add 0.5 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh
Picobrew's recipe crafter estimates that the finished beer will have these qualities:
  • Batch size: 2.5 gallons
  • Original Gravity:  1.085 SG
  • Final Gravity:  1.021 SG
  • ABV:  8.3%
  • IBUs:  34
  • SRM: 5
Actual measurements taken post-brewing were:
  • Batch size: 2.0 gallons
  • Pre-boil gravity: 18.5 Brix or 1.079 SG (after adjustment)
  • Original gravity: 20.1 Brix or 1.086 SG (after adjustment)
  • BU:GU ratio: 0.395
I loaded the water into the Zymatic's keg, the grain and hops into the step filter, and fired up the machine.

Brew Session Notes

I was surprised to see that the Zymatic had lost my Wi-Fi password during a week or so of disuse.  That had not happened before.  I thought perhaps there had been a firmware update but I saw no change in version number,

Having seen the Zymatic under-shoot volume on the last few batches, I added an extra 20 ounces of water to the keg.  This, combined with the 9 pound grain bill (including wheat and oats), appeared to cause a problem. I stayed with the device through dough-in and it all looked good.  When I came back about 30 minutes later, I had a serious mess on my hands.

The Zymatic had foamed out the top of the step filter, and leaked a lot of wort from underneath the lid. The leaked wort covered about half of the top of the table on which the Zymatic sat, covered nearly all of the shelf underneath the table top, covered about 20% of the anti-fatigue mat next to the table, and ran from the table, past the shelves where I keep the clean bottles, underneath plastic bins containing grain, underneath the shelving unit I use to store grain, and made a garbage-can-lid sized puddle around the drain in the basement floor.  It took me about 20-30 minutes to clean up this mess.  After the Zymatic completed mash out, I noticed there was still a lot of wort in it, so I paused it and made it drain a bit more.  When I went to resume the brew, it suffered a fatal error and rebooted itself.  When it came back up, I had to restart the brew and step it past the mash process.  Fortunately there were no leaks after that.

The finished wort measured only two gallons, instead of the 2.5 gallons I should have gotten.  I'm guessing the missing half gallon explained the puddles everywhere.  Gravity measured 20.1 Brix which was right on target.  I chilled the wort to 76F with my immersion chiller, pitched the entire package of yeast, and poured in half a vial of Clarity Ferm.  I don't plan to use temperature control, to give the yeast a chance to feel a little stress and generate esters/phenols.  This, combined with the ferulic acid rest, should allow the yeast to express itself.  According to Wyeast, 1388 generates a complex ester profile, finishing dry and tart, which sounds like a good description of Karmeliet's oft-cited "lemony" note.

02/13/2018:  A sample from the fermenter was cloudy.  A fruity aroma hinting at banana, clove, and bubblegum. Flavor is sweet and malty with just enough hops to balance out. Gravity registered at 1.021 SG, which is right where I expected it to finish out, so it may overshoot my target gravity. I bumped the fermentation temperature up to 76-78F.

02/25/2018:  The beer was bottled, but my available "hot box" options were limited thanks to the two Saison batches that needed very warm temperatures for six weeks, so I had to leave it out to condition at ambient basement temperatures of around 62-63F.

03/17/2018:  I chilled a bottle of the beer and poured it for a side-by-side comparison with the real Bosteels product.  The color of mine is a bit darker than the real beer.  Both have excellent and high levels of carbonation.  The aroma on mine hints at citrus, but the aroma of the real beer has a very clean and bright lemon note. I originally thought this might be coriander, but it seems much more like lemon peel or lemon zest to me now. It's almost a candy-like lemon aroma.  The body on mine seems more full than on the real beer, which is lighter and thinner.  Flavor is similar but I have to give the nod to the real beer there.  Mine (as I suspected when I read the recipe) is also more bitter.  The clone as brewed here is a good Belgian style Tripel, but the real beer is definitely better.

When I re-brew this, I'm planning to make a few changes:
  • Add clear candi sugar or corn sugar to lighten the body, dialing back the amounts of malt some to achieve the same level of ABV as the real beer
  • Add lemon peel, lemon zest, or a lemon extract
  • Consider using late-addition Lemon Drop hops to improve aroma and lemony flavor, or use East Kent Goldings with a light touch to get a lemony aroma/flavor
  • Definitely dial back the IBUs (I think the real beer is supposedly 18 IBUs)
  • Consider a cleaner-fermenting yeast (the clone's aroma was much more "yeasty" than the actual beer was) and use temperature control to ensure good yeast health
04/03/2018:  A family member who loves Karmeliet tried this beer over the weekend and felt that it was better than the real thing. He liked how it finished better than real Karmeliet.  I still plan to make some of the changes above when I brew it again soon.

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