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Tasting – Belgian Dubbel

22/05/2014

Dubbel

My second try at brewing a Belgian style Dubbel has been in the bottle for over a month and has turned into a very nice beer. At first the flavours were “not quite there” but some time in the bottle has done wonders. There is still plenty of room for improvement though.

Appearance : Pours with a voluminous head which unfortunately doesn’t stay around. Still, a beautiful colour of ruby sits in the goblet under a thin white head. Not much lacing is left in the glass, somewhat surprisingly. The beer has a bit of yeast haze which befits the style.

Smell : Molasses and some dark spices. Surprisingly, some citrus aromas (according to my girlfriend, whom I usually recruit to help out). There is that certain quality that you get from Trappist/abbey beers that the yeast creates but which I have trouble picking apart. The yeast character could be somewhat stronger for my tastes.

Taste : Soft spice, gingerbread and a slight molasses note. Caramel malt. After more time in the bottle the taste is more balanced and soft compared to tasting it after just a week. No higher alcohols.

Mouthfeel :  The body is on the thin side and it goes down easily for a 6,5% ABV beer. For the style it could use more carbonation but I like my beers with less. I’m a bit conservative with the bottling sugar also because I don’t have enough thick-walled Belgian bottles.

Notes/thoughts : Not bad at all for a first go at the style. If I were to brew this again I would use more different malts since the beer could use some malt complexity. Also I think the yeast would have benefited from higher temperatures, as it stands the yeast character is a bit mellow. It’s definitely there but could use a bit more “oomph”, although I suppose that is largely a matter of taste. It’s also hard to tell what the syrup contributed : the beer is very drinkable for 6,5% and the apparent attenuation of 83% is certainly partly a consequence of using it but aside from the molasses notes I’m not sure what it gives to the flavour. Perhaps sourcing some “real” Belgian syrup would be a nice experiment although interestingly “Brew like a Monk” states that most Trappist breweries use common sugar nowadays. Still, a nice beer and a rebrew with a tweaked recipe will surely follow at some point.

16/8/14 This beer has gone through some changes while bottle conditioning. Surprisingly, the carbonation has gone up during the warm summer even though it had a long time over the yeast cake and the attenuation was very high. Luckily no gushers but you have to keep the bottle cool and pour quickly before it foams. Closer to the style but unexpected. The taste is now even more balanced, I think because the bitterness has gone down a bit and more of the malt sweetness gets through now. Nothing syrupy but now it’s really where it should have been all along. I think that originally the IBU’s in this one were perhaps a bit too high. I’ll keep opening a bottle now and then and see how it develops (Hopefully the carbonation will stay where it is).

Dubbel_Update

 

21/3/15 Time in the bottle has done wonders and as it stands now the beer feels really smooth and balanced.  No signs of oxidation yet. I’m a bit worried how the coming summer will effect the bottles that I have left (carbonation level seems to vary a bit between the bottles). I’m thinking about doing a new version with a pilsner malt as a base and fermenting it higher for a stronger yeast character.

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