Monday, April 2, 2018

Belgian Dubbel Pomegranate Recipe

In 2012 a neighbor and I brewed a Belgian Quad for Easter, spiced with cardamom and boosted with pomegranate molasses instead of dark candi syrup. I only retained a six-pack of bottles for myself before kegging the rest for his congregation's Easter vigil, but I was pleased with the results. Since then I'd also used pomegranate molasses in Dark Saison VIII.

Pouring pomegranate molasses into the wort.Audrey enjoyed the quad enough that she decided to brew a lower-gravity dubbel version to put on tap. We dropped the table sugar, and swapped out the CaraMunich for an English medium crystal (based on availability). We pitched half of the wort with WLP530 (Westmalle), which I'd used for the original batch. For the rest, we pitched Imperial Monastic (Chimay).

Rather than put both beers on tap next to each other (the kegerator was already packed) we tasted both before kegging. The WLP530 was more balanced, with a nice mix of spice and fruit. The Monastic had too much banana (isoamyl acetate) for our tastes despite fermenting in the low-70s. We decided to rack that one to secondary and pitch The Yeast Bay's House Sour Blend. We'll probably give it a dose of pomegranate juice before bottling.

This also seemed like a suitable warm-up for our first trip to Belgium in a couple months for our fifth anniversary! With the Sapwood Cellar opening looming this summer, it seemed like it might be my last chance to travel for now.


Smell – Balanced Belgian peppery yeast spice and dark fruitiness. Still has a fresh grainiess as well, something that you almost never get from imported dubbels. Neither the pomegranate molasses nor cardamom immediately jump out. It has a slight morning pastry character, which may be the influence of the spice.

Finished Pomegranate-Cardamom Dubbel!Appearance – Hazy leathery-maroon body with an off-white head. Retention and lacing are both underwhelming. Not a particularly appealing beer to look at it.

Taste – The pomegranate shows itself more in the palate, it’s light acidity lending a crisper finish than a usual dubbel. Lingering subtle red jamminess from the fruit. Again the spice character is primarily the peppery phenols from the yeast, perhaps melding with the cardamom to make it seem more sweet than savory. Caramel notes, but lacks the typical raisin that would be provided by Special B in many recipes. Minimal bitterness. No strong character from the Carafa II, despite not being dehusked.

Mouthfeel – Slightly full for a moderate-strength dubbel. Mildly prickly carbonation, bottle conditioning would be nice to serve it with more sparkle.

Drinkability & Notes – A really nice twist on a Belgian style that doesn’t walk all over the base beer. As Stan Hieronymus notes in Brew Like a Monk, "if the drinker can name the spices, it's a sign they are overdone."

Changes for Next Time – Not sure what is up with the appearance. On one hand it would be nice to add wheat to boost the head retention, on the other I wouldn’t want to add more haze. Hopefully with continued conditioning it clears up.


Batch Size: 11.50 gal
SRM: 15.8
IBU: 21.4
OG: 1.058
FG: 1.011
ABV: 6.2%
Final pH: 3.87
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73%
Boil Time: 90 min

41.5% - 10 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
41.5% - 10 lbs Dingemans Pilsen
8.3% - 2 lbs Thomas Fawcett Crystal Malt II
1.6% - .375 lbs Weyermann Carafa II
7.3% - 1.75 lbs Al Wadi Pomegranate Molasses

Mash In - 45 min @ 152F

2.00 oz Hallertauer Mittelfrueh (Pellets, 2.40% AA) @ 60 min
1.00 oz Northern Brewer (Pellets, 9.10% AA) @ 60 min

8 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash


1 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 min
0.50 g Penzeys Guatemala Ground Cardamom Seeds @ 3 min

White Labs WLP530 Abbey Ale
Imperial Yeast B63 Monastic
The Yeast Bay House Sour

Brewed 2/25 - Extended the boil as efficiency was lower than expected.

Fermenting beer temperature peaked at 74F. If I'd looked up the origin of the B63 before fermentation I would have suggested keeping it cooler despite the lab's 68-78F recommendation. Keeping it to 64-68F in this Belgian single nicely restrained the banana.

Kegged White Labs half on 3/10. Moved to kegerator to force carbonate.

Transferred the Imperial Yeast half to a plastic carboy and pitched The Yeast Bay House Sour.

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Pom-Pom Dubbel


CJD said...

My experience has been that bottle conditioning is crucial for Trappist styles. I've yet to have a kegged version of any Belgian style that lived up to expectations.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

it certainly helps, but with the added flavors from fruit and spice this one isn't exactly a classic Trappist!

Spitty E said...

If you make it to Brugge on your trip to Belgium, make sure you visit De Garre and get the Triple (

Unknown said...

yea, for real. De Garre is pretty special

Unknown said...

"pomegranate molasses" ! God dammit Mike there's another strange thing I have to source and try to drag down here to Sydney! Good luck with the new brewery! You deserve it! If anyone has the talent to start a brewery its you. I just started pro brewing myself here in Sydney. That's as close as I will ever get to actually having a brewery as its so super expensive here to have a retail factory space to put a brew system into. Plus yes I cannot give up my paying job to brew beer full time and I love time off to travel too much. But good luck and see you at NHC in Portland. A whole bunch of us are flying in from Sydney.
Paul Nickodem
Brewer and owner
DooLittle Brewing Company
Sydney, Australia

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Ha! Shouldn't be too hard to track down. Maybe a local halal market?

No NHC for me this year, too close to when the brewery should be opening! Next year I hope...

Gusumus said...

C'mon Paul, head over to Lakemba! I know that exact brand of pomegranate molasses is everywhere in the middle eastern grocery joints in northern Melbourne. I'd be shocked if you couldn't find it in Sydney.

Rob c said...

What percentage of yield/fermentable sugar did you get from the pomegranate molasses???

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Hi9ghly fermentable to be sure, I didn't actually figure out how much gravity we got from it... but I suppose I should figure it out since I'm scaling this recipe up for this fall!