Monday, November 22, 2010

Calvados Sour Tripel Recipe

Calvados Sour Tripel in SecondaryBelgian Tripels have never been among my favorite beers.  When done right I can certainly appreciate them, but something about how yeast forward they are without much hop or malt complexity doesn't tug at my taste buds.  While the definition of the style can be myopic, the beer can be a jumping off point for other flavors.  For example three years ago I brewed a tripel with an assertive American hop character.  The result was a blend of fruity hops and spicy yeast that I really enjoyed. 

I hadn't been planning on brewing another tripel until a few months ago when my friend Nathan shared a bottle of Buteuse Brassin Special a complex funky elixir from Le Trou Du Diable. It is a tripel dosed with Brett and aged in barrels that previously held distilled apple cider.  The fruit pulled from the barrel and spicy funk imparted by the Brett blended wonderfully to make a beer of great depth.  The result was something I wished Captain Lawrence's Golden Delicious had been (too much barrel character for a clean tripel to support).

Buteuse Brassin Special reminded me of a sample of Allagash's Tripel Roeselare (Tripel aged for 2 years in oak wine barrels with Roeselare yeast culture) that Rob Tod brought to one of the Lupulin Slam Reunions here in DC.  It was never bottled, which is a shame because it had a wonderfully sourness with a great wet oak basement funk. Tröegs Splinter Gold is another example of a sour/funky barrel aged tripel, and one that I'm sorry to say I have not gotten the chance to try (yet).

So I decided to brew a funky tripel along those line, with apple brandy soaked oak as well as a full complement of microbes.  I took just the first runnings from a simple mash of pils, wheat, and carapils (a Petite Saison came out second - more on that later) and gave the wort a light dose of hops.  The Westmalle strain and a pack of Roeselare Blend got the first crack at the sugars in primary.  After a couple weeks I racked the beer to secondary and added a culture from Russian River Temptation that my friend Matt had isolated (two lactic acid bacteria and one yeast) and propagated. 

I waited to add any sugar until the beer was in secondary to give the microbes a chance a multiply before the alcohol got too high.  I may add more sugar down the road, but it will depend on how the beer develops. Along with the sugar I added 1.25 oz of French oak that had been soaking in Daron Fine Calvados for a couple weeks.  I may dose the beer with a few ounce of the liquor later to add more character, but this early on I didn't want to boost the ABV more than necessary.

Sour Calvados Tripel

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 22.23
Anticipated OG: 1.073
Anticipated SRM: 5.6
Anticipated IBU: 16.6
Brewhouse Efficiency: 43 % (67% including the second runnings)
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

54.0% 12.00 lbs. German Pilsener
37.1% 8.25 lbs. French Pilsener
4.5% 1.00 lbs. Flaked Wheat
3.4% 0.75 lbs. Cane Sugar
1.0% 0.23 lbs. CaraPils

0.50 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 11.50% AA) @ 60 min.

0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 20 min.
1.25 oz French Oak Cubes soaked in Calvados (fermenter)

WYeast 3763 Roeselare Blend
WYeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity
Russian River Temptation Culture

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest 45 min @ 154
Mash Out 10 min @ 167

Brewed 10/31/10 By myself

Ran off ~6 gallons of 1.060 first runnings for the tripel (lower gravity than expected).

Simcoe adjusted down from 13.6% AA, 2007 crop.

Chilled to ~75. Trappist High Gravity plus Roeselare in primary pitched directly from swollen packets. Shook for 2 minutes to aerate before pitching. Left in 60 degree basement for fermentation (wish I could have gone warmer, but I was using my heating pad on the saison).

Good fermentation after 18 hours.

11/14/10 Racked to secondary, gravity down to 1.025. Added 1.25 oz of French Oak soaked for about 2 weeks in Calvados (waiting to add actual liquor). Added .75 lbs of table sugar boiled for 5 minutes in 12 oz of water, and cooled before adding. Also added a culture from Temptation from Matt, he said two strains of lactic acid bacteria and a yeast(could be Sacch or Brett).  Slow renewed fermentation after 12 hours.

4/11/11 Nice fruity flavor with a bit of funk, but still not much acidity.  The warmer summertime temperatures should get the lactic acid bacteria into gear.

4/9/11 Only made it down to 1.011, even after all this time. Bottled one gallon with .5 g of Premier Cuvee and .9 oz of cane sugar. Kegged the rest with about 2 oz of whole Citra (my scale was having issues) and hooked up to gas in the kegerator.

5/16/12 The dry hopped version is spectacular, bright citrusy, fresh, balanced... and at 8.2% ABV a bit too drinkable on a hot spring night.

820/12 The plain portion is pretty good. Good balance of oak and yeast. Only a slight funk and nearly no acidity, but it works.


Seanywonton said...

I once brewed a tripel that tasted like Calvados but it was just a bunch of Acetaldehyde ; )
One of many early homebrewing mistakes. I thought I could brew a tripel right off the bat from a starter I made from a bottle of beer! There was probably half a commercial vial's worth of yeast in there.

RICHARD. said...

This sounds really cool, although I would hesitate to use delicious Calvados just to flavor oak chips. Have you ever looked into getting a barrel from Laird's? They have a production facility down near Charlottesville, but it sounds like some of the aging may be done in New Jersey, which may explain why the only breweries using apple brandy barrels I know of are in NJ.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

We actually have been looking into getting a barrel from Laird's. At the moment that extra slot on my barrel rack is just going to waste.

Brooke said...

I'm working on a sour tripel right now as well - basically a Westmallish clone that I doused with a sour starter and WLP500 in primary. I'm hoping to get a good sour presence in it, so may even bump the temperature up at the end of primary. I'm just worried about getting too much ester or phenolic character, but that may age out a bit I guess.

Reuben Cozmyer said...

What sort of negatives will there be if I just leave this in primary? I'm under the impression that the brett can metabolize a lot of the byproducts of the other yeast in the blend. Can I just drop the oak cubes in my primary fermenter?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Brett certainly can convert many of the compounds (sugars, fatty acids etc.) into other more palatable flavors, but the beer will become more lambic-like. Nothing wrong with that, but it'll be a more assertively rustic-funky result.

Reuben Cozmyer said...

Thanks for your response! That'll also let me free up a big carboy.

Unknown said...

This recipe looks exceptional. Like you I don’t really gravitate towards tripel recipes—I feel most are too up front on the alcohol and lacking in other departments. Brettanomyces is a great way to thin the body and add complexity. I was wondering whether you would advise ramping fermentation temperatures (like traditional Trappist beers) and how long to leave the beer in contact with dry hops?