Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Valley Malt Dubbel Tasting

American Dubbel in a St. Bernardus Tulip.Dubbel is one of the few styles that it is hard to find a good American brewed version of. While the best Belgian examples (Westvleteren 8, St. Bernardus Pater 6, Westmalle Dubbel etc.) are malty without overwhelming sweetness, the Americans tend to either overdo the sweetness or underdo the malt. Brew Like a Monk reports that some Belgian dubbels get all of their color and dark fruit flavors from dark candi syrup, but I have not been happy with the results of leaving out the dark crystal malt.While dark candi sugar does add great flavor caramel and dark fruit flavors, it becomes richer and more complex when combined with complementary character from malt.

For this dubbel recipe I used American (pale and dark crystal) malts from Valley Malt to add their unique character. I also didn't want the beer to be too strong, starting at 1.058 it is a beer that I can drink a glass of and still write a blog post.

American Malt Dubbel

Appearance – Shoots out of the picnic tap with a voluminous off-white head. The body is dark brown, almost opaque in my St. Bernardus tulip (although it appears more reddish-brown towards the bottom of the glass, revealing a bit of haze). The head has great structure and leaves thick lacing.

Smell – Big spicy clove character from the cool fermentation with WLP545 takes the lead. There is toasted malt and some of those classic dark fruit and toffee flavors I expect in Belgian dubbels. Neither the dark crystal nor the candi syrup drowns out the other. The pale malt gives a backbone that I find lacking in the dubbels I've brewed with Pilsner malt as the base.

Taste – Nice balance of flavors, malty without being sweet. Just a slight bitterness to help counter the sweetness that does remain. The candi sugar adds come caramelized raisin type flavors with the dark crystal malt contributing plums and prunes. The yeast character is slightly stronger and spicier than I prefer; I'll probably go with my old standby WLP530/WY3787 next time I brew a similar recipe.

Mouthfeel – Despite the energetic pour the carbonation is about right (just below prickly). The body is medium-light, which is fine by me.

Drinkability & Notes – Really happy with the way this batch turned out. Excited to see how the half with bugs, plums, and oak does (especially after recently having a standout pale sour with homegrown plums – thanks Mike!).

If you are interested in brewing something similar, but don't have access to Valley Malt's products use the flavorful pale malt of your choice for the base and your favorite dark crystal malt (Special B, C120, or English Dark).


Mine said...

Looks great Mike. I've heard great things from Candi Syrup Inc. and their syrups. Perhaps that character that comes from dark malts might come from those syrups since they're supposed to impart a greater amount of character than your standard D2.

Shawn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
יובל כץ said...

I'm planning on brewing a simple quad, 2 equal parts of the base malts, 42.5% Pilsner malt(weyermann)
42.5% Abbey malt(weyermann)
10% Dark candi syrup D180(too much?)
5% Special B or CaraAroma
mash wise, i think stick to a simple one, 60 min. @ 154F
Long 2 hour boil, one hop addition at the begining of magnum to say 40 ibu's.
I'm not sure about the scale but it should be around other quads such as westy 12, 10.5-11% with OG of 1.108+- then age it for a while on french oak chips, of course ferment it with trappist yeast which will be hard to get here in israel.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Haven't used the Weyermann Abbey malt. Sounds similar to a dark Munich? I might back down on it, I tend to like the middle-of-the-road character of pale malt in dark Belgian beers. A mix of pils and a darker basemalt can work, but I'd keep the darker to 15-20%.

Are you talking about candi syrup as a percentage by weight, or of the fermentables? If it is by weight, you are probably on the high end for such a dark syrup.

Westy 12 is a big beer, but it starts much lower than 1.108 and gets its strength from high attenuation. According to Brew Like a Monk, it starts at 1.090:

Sounds like an intensely flavored beer! Hope it turns out well!