Monday, July 28, 2008

Saint Phillipe- Belgian Dubbel

As I started getting into the whole process of starting to brew at home, I had discussed it quite a bit with my dad (reformed Busch drinker...sort of). He had expressed some interest in brewing as well, so for Christmas last year, I got him an IPA kit from Northern Brewer (since he lives in the Pacific Northwest, I thought if he didn't brew something hoppy, they'd never let him brew again). He's really gotten into it, to the point that some of my rantings on the phone influenced him to try brewing a couple of Belgians. I don't know that he'd ever tried a Belgian before brewing one, but he did it any way. So in the spirit of doing things even if you don't really know what you're doing, I give you Saint Phillipe.

Saint Phillipe Dubbel-

Belgian Pilsner- 8 lbs
Dark Munich- 2 lbs
Carapils- 4 oz
Special B- 2 oz
Belgian Candi Sugar (clear)- 1 lb into the boil

Sterling- 1 oz- 60 minutes
Vanguard- 1 oz- 10 minutes

Wyeast Belgian Abbey Ale 2- 1200 ml starter

129/151/167 decoction mash out

So the recipe is pretty straightforward as far as a Dubbel goes for the grains. A nice base of the pilsner malts with some dark Munich to give it some color. Cara pils for some head retention (most Belgian beers seem to want to try to see how patient you are if you decide to wait for the head to subside), and a touch of Special B, a classic Belgian Dubbel ingredient to provide a hint of raisin flavor/aroma. I threw the sugar in right at the beginning of the boil to try and squeeze a little color out from caramelizing the sugars to counter act the fact that I only had clear instead of a darker sugar. The recipe departs from traditional Dubbels with the hops. Belgian brewers are always harping on using what you've got, and these two new style hops are what I had. I didn't set out to brew a clone, so I'm not going to worry about what a judge would say about it.

The brewing went pretty smoothly for the most part. My lautering had a few of the old problems creep up again, but I managed it, and came out with a very respectable 80% efficiency from the mash. That's the third time in a row that that has happened, so I may want to adjust my recipes a little to account for it.

I did this beer on Saturday, so fermentation is well under way. In fact, the first night, it got so violent that the carboy cap shot off. It was still pumping out CO2 at a pretty good clip on Sunday when I got around to fixing it, so I'm not terribly concerned about an infection. I guess that's what happens when you make a big beer and pitch a big starter. I guess you could say I've now tried my hand at open fermentation. If only I had done it in a bucket, I could have also tried top cropping some yeast. All I'd have left is to take vows of silence, chastity, and poverty (so far I'm only working on one out of three), and I'd be ready to move to Westmalle.

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