Saturday, December 15, 2018

Tripel Karmeliet Clone 4.0

Back in June, I brewed my third attempt to clone the famous Tripel Karmeliet. While that version didn't taste like the bottled version of Karmeliet I'd always had, I happened to taste a draft version of the beer and it was a dead ringer for that. The difference between the two is that the draft version I tried did not have the fresh lemon notes I picked up in the bottled version. This time around, I'm trying to better replicate the bottled version.

All the recipes I've seen used Hallertau Mittelfruh hops, which are described as mellow, spicy, and citrusy. I decided to use those in this version of the beer and add some lemon peel to see if that will help punch up the citrus flavors a little. 

As strange as it may seem, the White Labs Sweet Mead Yeast produced a very good clone of Karmeliet on draft, so I'm planning to continue using it in this version.

My last version also felt a bit more full-bodied than I wanted, so I'm adding a pound of corn sugar to this one to lighten the body and dry out the sweetness a little. I've also dropped the mash temperature a few degrees below what it was last time.


6 pounds of Belgian Pilsner Malt
1 pound of White Wheat Malt
8 ounces of Flaked Oats
8 ounces of Rice Hulls
1 pound of Corn Sugar (added to the grain bag)
0.50 ounces of Lemon Peel (10 min.)
0.35 ounces of Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 2.7% AA (60 min.)
0.45 ounces of Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 2.7% AA (10 min.)
0.80 ounces of Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 2.7% AA (5 min.)
1.5 teaspoons of pH 5.2 Stabilizer
2.8 gallons of Mash Water
1.4 gallons of Sparge Water

BeerSmith estimates that the beer will have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Style: 26.C Belgian Tripel
  • Batch Size: 2.25 gallons 
  • Original Gravity: 1.089 SG 
  • Final Gravity: 1.017 SG
  • IBUs: 19
  • SRM: 4
Mash Schedule:
  • Mash in at 113F for 15 minutes (Ferulic Acid rest)
  • Mash at 120F for 15 minutes (Beta Glucan rest for the wheat and oats)
  • Mash at 142F for 20 minutes
  • Mash at 158F for 60 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 10 minutes
  • Sparge at 168F for 10 minutes
Boil Schedule:
  • 90 minutes: No additions (this is to help drive off DMS from the Pilsner malt)
  • 60 minutes: Add Hallertau for bittering
  • 10 minutes: Add Hallertau for flavor and aroma, plus lemon peel
  • 5 minutes: Add Hallertau for aroma
Fermentation Schedule:
  • This yeast likes a fermentation temperature in the 70-75F range. This time of year, my basement tends to stay around 64-64F, this will help offset any heat gains from the yeast (at least to some degree) but temperature control might be required at the height of fermentation. Last time around, the temperature got as high as 77F briefly, but stayed within 71-75F the rest of the time.
  • My plan for this batch is to keep the yeast within the 70-75F range for the first 3 days of fermentation. After that, I'll hold it at 70F until it finishes fermentation.
My plan after fermentation will be to bottle the beer using 5 carbonation tablets per 12-ounce bottle (high carbonation) and allow the beer to bottle condition for at least 2 weeks before serving.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

12/14/2018:  This was my third brew in the new Brewie+ system. My sparge and mash water calculation spreadsheet still needs work, as this beer came out at approximately 2.25 gallons (instead of the planned 2.5 gallons) and at a gravity of 1.089 SG. This works out to a Brewhouse Efficiency of approximately 59% for this batch, which is not great. Next time around, the Sparge water should be set to 1.6 gallons to get closer to 2.5 gallons in final volume.

Interestingly, the Brewie application on Android estimated the gravity of this batch at 1.075 without the sugar and claims that its efficiency is 80%. I'm calculating that 2.25 gallons at 1.089 gravity is 59% efficiency.

12/17/2018:  Gravity is down to 1.048 SG and the temperature is 65F. That's 39% apparent attenuation in 3 days, which seems fairly slow. On the other hand, the amount of yeast pitched was probably low and WLP720 works best in the 70-75F temperature range. It's well below that now. I may need to warm it up a bit.

12/18/2018: Gravity is down to 1.045 SG today. Since it looks like the yeast has slowed down considerably (probably due to the temp being 64-65F), I've added a heat wrap and some insulation, with a temperature controller configured to keep the beer at 70F, which is the low-end of the yeast's optimum fermentation temperature range. I'm hoping that will help the yeast get going.

12/19/2018: Gravity is down to 1.041 SG today. The temp has been raised to 73F, which is in the middle of the yeast's range. Fermentation continues to be fairly slow.

12/21/2018: Gravity is now 1.029 SG, so the temperature increase seems to have benefited the yeast. I raised it to 75F today to ensure that the yeast is able to complete the fermentation.

12/22/2018: Gravity is down to 1.018 SG.

12/23/2018: Gravity has dropped to 1.017 SG.

12/28/2018: Bottled the beer with 5 carbonation tablets (high carbonation) today. A warm, flat sample from the fermenter had a distinct lemony note to it like the real Karmeliet Tripel does, so I'm hopeful this will turn out to be a decent approximation.

1/4/2019: I tested a bottle of the beer today. The flavor was good, but there was no carbonation, or almost none.

1/12/2019: Today I opened another sample of the beer. It had light carbonation, but not where it should be for a Belgian Tripel. Ignoring that for a moment, it's a mildly hazy gold color with minimal white head. The aroma is lemony and sweet. Flavor is malty, mildly sweet, lemony, with a balanced bitterness. If it ever carbonates it should be a good beer.

1/17/2019:  The beer was not carbonated much last weekend when I taste-tested it. Tonight I increased the temperature of the hot box in which it's carbonating, flipped each bottle upside down, and agitated it to get the yeast back into suspension. Hopefully this will help with carbonation. I plan to do another test on Saturday.

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