Sunday, June 14, 2009


And finally the tripel. If you've never had this style of beer, you are seriously missing out. In principle, it's a big refreshing beer. The Belgians are big on talking about digestibility in their beers. Which is to say, something you can sit down and eat with as opposed to something that would fill you up all on it's own. The tripel is sort of the culmination of that, as it's something you sort of NEED to eat a meal with. The style inherently contains a lot of sugar which makes it really high in alcohol. If you sit down after a long day in the garden with a few of these and no food, you can get yourself pretty drunk really fast.

But again, that's not really the point. Beer, while refreshing and fun on it's own, is best enjoyed with food. I continually see articles in Bon Appetit where people are mentioning beer more and more in food pairings. And there are some foods that just pair better with beer than with wine, so it makes sense that you would start to see this. According to Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, it's a good style for game birds and gamy hams like prosciutto. I am psyched about having this beer with a nice big dagwood type ham sandwich in August on the picnic table.

On to the recipe!


Belgian Pilsner- 8 lbs
Vienna Malt- 2 lbs
Belgian Aromatic- 4 ounces
Carapils- 4 ounces
Clear Homemade Candi Sugar- 2 lbs- put in the boil at 45 minutes

Kent Goldings- 4.6- 1 ounce- 60 minutes
Chinook- 13- .25 ounces- 13 minutes

Wyeast 1388- Belgian Strong Ale- yeast cake from Single and Dubbel batches

149/167- hot water infusion with a decoction mashout

Gravity- Target/Actual/Final/ABV

The grain bill of a tripel is geared toward being able to stand up to the large amount of sugar that's going into the beer. That sugar ferments completely, so you need good stuff on the front end to make sure it's got a bit of malt and body to hold up under all that alcohol. Good Pilsner and Vienna malts are perfect for this. The Vienna especially is going to leave a little something that the yeast can't convert. The Kent Golding hops as a bittering addition are a traditional tripel ingredient. The Chinook not so much. I was kind of inspired by Chris, my neighbor who brews for Three Floyds, after talking to him about my single to try some unconventional hop additions. I probably should have done a little more research about the hop pairing of Goldings and Chinook (in truth, I didn't do any research at all), but homebrewing is about experimentation, and the Chinook addition is a tiny one at 1/4 of an ounce, so I don't think it will impart too much harshness. I added the sugar during the boil. Some people have been advocating adding it to the secondary, but I kind of like the idea of getting a little character from what happens when the sugar is a part of the boil.

The gravity came out a little low. I think if there is one aspect to my brewing that I have not really been able to get a handle on yet, it would be evaporation rate. I was unaware of how much volume would be added from the two pounds of sugar syrup, along with the relatively imprecise measurements on the side of my kettle for volume (I basically took a metal file and marked the side as best I could for the 3 to 7 gallon marks). This can get really imprecise when you put multiple whole hop additions in the kettle, along with the immersion chiller and the hop screen. Definitely something I plan on working on. In the end, I collected 5.5 gallons of beer into the carboy, which made my gravity almost the same as with the dubbel. The good news is that there was an extra pound of sugar in there, so I should get the divergence I was looking for from the two beers.

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