Quick Sips: Belgian Dubbel
I spend most of my homebrew research time at the HomeBrewTalk forums, which seems to be the largest, most active brewing community around. That said, I also post at r/Homebrewing and the BeerAdvocate forums, both of which have lovely, helpful, and perhaps more open-minded/progressive communities than HBT.
One of my favorite things about the BeerAdvocate homebrew community is the “Averagely Perfect” project, spearheaded by community member VikeMan. Essentially, these are crowdsourced recipes for the ultimate versions of well-known beers, with community members voting grain bill, hop variety and hopping rates, yeast, fermentation temperatures, OG and FG, and more. Styles that have been covered range from Saison to American Stout, ESB to NEIPA.
Recently, I decided to take one of these recipes for a spin: the Averagely Perfect Belgian Dubbel. (If you’re really curious, here’s a directory of all of the voting threads that led to the final recipe.) But of course, like everyone you see complaining in the comments section about how a recipe didn’t come out, I had to go and put my own spin on it.
What’s in it?
- Method: BIAB, no sparge, squeezerino
- Batch size: 5.5 gallons
- Mash: 75 minutes @ 152F
- Boil: 60 minutes
- OG: 1.064
- FG: 1.009
- ABV: 7.2%
- IBU: 25
- 11 lbs Mecca Grade Pelton (Pilsner)
- 1 lbs Candi Syrup (D-90)
- 0.5 lbs Caramunich
- 0.25 lbs Special B
- 16g Magnum [11% AA] @ 60 minutes for 21 IBU
- 30g Styrian Celeja [3% AA] @ 10 minutes for 4 IBU
- Yeast: Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes (750mL starter), fermented at 68-73F
- Water: 6.5 gallons machine RO + 4.6g CaCl2, 1.8g Gypsum, and 2g Lactic Acid 88%
How’s it taste?
Well, I wouldn’t call it perfect, but it’s pretty damn good—and most of what it lacks is probably down to my own deviation from the Averagely Perfect recipe.
When first kegged, it was fairly bland, but over the three or so months it’s been conditioning it has developed plenty of spice character that melds well with the lingering sweetness. I carbed it to about 2.8 volumes and the dry finish and spritzy carbonation do a lot to not only bring out the flavors and aromas of the specialty malts, but also to keep that sweetness from feeling too heavy.
I do think it’s missing many of the signature Trappist flavors that I associate with dubbels, which is almost certainly down to my yeast choice. (Hey, it’s what I had on hand.) It could also be that I should have fermented it hotter. Anyway, next time I’d go with something more traditional, like WY3787 or WLP530, as the original recipe suggests. Ardennes is fine, but just a bit too clean. I’ll bet it would be great in a Belgian IPA or pale ale.
Gotta say, though, I love that color!