Belgian Dubbel (all-grain)

20121227(2)I recently had one of Boulevard Brewing Co.’s Nommo Dubbel, and man, it was delicious. Possible the best American-made Belgian-style dubbel I’ve had to date. I got inspired so I did a little reading on the style and threw together this recipe to try my hand at brewing a dubbel.

  • 12 lb Pilsner malt
  • 2 lb Caramunich malt
  • 1 lb Aromatic malt
  • 0.75 lb Special B malt
  • 1 oz Chocolate malt
  • 1 lb table sugar (2.25 cups)
  • 1 oz Styrian Goldings (4.3% aa) 60 min
  • 1 oz Styrian Goldings (4.3% aa) 30 min
  • WYeast Abbey II

// Strike mash w/ 5 gal 168F water to settle at 154/156F for 60 min. Sparge to collect ~8.5 gal pre-boil 1.048 wort. Boil 90 min. Collect ~6 gal 1.073 wort. Cool to 80F. Pitch yeast. //

The WYeast page for Abbey II is not joking around when it says that it’s slow to start – I pitched an active starter (made 2 days prior) and it STILL took ~36 hours to start. Also, since my bucket was more full than usual, I set up a blow-off tube to catch any extra yeast and junk that will likely erupt out of the top. That was likely an understatement – this thing was like a volcano. It overflowed from the primary (out the sides somehow???!) and overflowed the growler used for an airlock. Biggest mess ever. Definitely needed that extra headspace.

Racked to the secondary after 12 days in the primary at ~65F, to which it had slowed to about 1 bubble per minute. Gravity reads 1.015. This thing tastes like straight up rocket fuel. Very booze-y and just out of control yeasty/fruity. SUPER sweet.

UPDATE 11/14: Tasted after 2 weeks in secondary. Aromas of bubble gum, alcohol, and some sweet caramel maltiness. To taste, it’s improved a lot. It’s still pretty sweet, but has a more wine-like smoothness, and the fruity belgian yeast character is much more subtle. It’s a little bit cough-syrup-y, having that sort of robitussin cherry flavor. I think another two weeks should do this well, since it’s on its way. Not my ideal dubbel, but it’s got the right ideas. The aromatic malt is definitely noticeable, having that distinct belgian character that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I know from commercial examples.

THE VERDICT

Well, in the end, this beer wasn’t so great. It packs a punch of alcohol and is very much “rookie”-tasting in terms of homebrew, consequently making it very difficult to suck down more than 1 glass without wanting to switch to something else. I’ve tasted a bunch of homebrew like this, where people just throw tons of sugar into a batch and create alcohol bombs without any other legit qualities to back it up.  It was honestly more enjoyable when warmer and un-carbonated; much smoother and conducive to just casual sipping in a smaller glass. I really don’t know if there are any simple fixes to remedy this batch. The 3/4lb Special B and 2lb Caramunich were probably way too much, hence why it was so ridiculously caramel-y and sweet.  The robitussin flavors are no doubt a yeast byproduct, but I think my temperatures were decent and I pitched a 2qt starter too? ::shrugs shoulders:: I have had some issues with Abbey II before (slow starts and weird flavors), so maybe the strain is also partly the culprit. This recipe will sit on the shelf for now, but I have a feel I’ll remake it sometime down the road with a subtler approach.

20121227(1)

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Filed under Belgian, Dubbel

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