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Old 05-29-2009, 12:15 AM   #1
saq
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Default Westvleteren 12 Group Brew & Swap

OLD STUFF, see below for updates.

My 1 year brewing anniversary is coming up June 14th, and so to commemorate this occasion I'm going to brew the a beer I've so wanted to brew but have been putting off for a long time, Westvleteren 12.

I have had the opporitunity to try this beer once under a very fortunate circumstance where we did a Westy 8 & 12 vertical tasting. 2 bottles of each 8 and 12, one fresh and the other aged 4 years. The beer definitely lives up to its reputation.

Since I am a regular of the incredible awesome HomeBrewTalk.Com Official Chat I've been kicking the idea around of doing a group brew and swap that was met with great enthusiasm around exploring the different ideas of how to replicate this bad boy.

There are a few opinions around for how this beer is made, the one I plan on doing first is one which I believe is featured in Beer Captured is posted here by Displaced Masshole.

There are other opinions on how this is made, with some people claiming its 50% pale & 50% pils followed by the dark candi. I'll leave that part open for debate. See below for more better info

The other thing discussed is a bunch of us from chat was people brewing it up, perhaps using some varying recipes/processes and doing a swap and comparison. I have a bottle of Westvleteren 12 myself, so I would love to do a side by side comparison of my home brew & others compared to the real thing. I got my bottle from a reputable beer trader on ratebeer trading forums in exchange for some of my own rare stuff.
I highly recommend it if you are interested in getting beers you just can't get in your area.

So, here is the thread for a brew discussion & swap. Lets get it going! Lets set a target date for trading starting on 9/15/09. That should give people plenty of time to brew, ferment, bottle & condition this beer, and then recipients can determine when they perform their own comparison tasting.


Edit: UPDATES!

Lets start a list of everyone who is dedicated to brewing this beer within the next two weeks for the brew & swap, and also for getting on chat at the same time (at an undetermined date in the future) and do a live group tasting.

I think the number should be small so we don't get wasted during the tasting. I also think we should be looking at only all-grain brews since the main mission of this project is to replicate the famous Westy 12.

I'll edit the first post later for more info on the two recipe guidelines we will be using, along with the concrete information known about this beer.

I'll start the list of people that have said they are in that will be doing all grain. Please confirm that you are down for brewing this soon and swapping with the other people in about 4 months. I think we should limit this to 10 people.
1: saq (confirmed)
2: Freezeblade
3: Bokonon
4: Saccharomyces
5: KingBrianI (confirmed)
6: Displaced Masshole
7: bashe

More coming soon.

Edit: More Updates! Recipes, hop info, etc.

Recipe

Through some good convo and research by myself and other people in this thread we have come up with some pretty good info. There are two recipes, one that is an approximated recipe from Beer Captured which uses specialty malts which I will call New World, and another that is estimated as close as possible to the authentic (and still current) recipe, which will just be called Traditional.

New World Recipe

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Boil Size: 7.54 gal
Estimated OG: 1.090 SG
Estimated Color: 27.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 38.6 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount Item Type % or IBU
12.50 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 70.34 %
1.00 lb Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 5.63 %
0.50 lb Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM) Grain 2.81 %
0.33 lb Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 1.86 %
0.25 lb Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 1.41 %
0.19 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 1.07 %
1.00 oz Northern Brewer [8.50 %] (90 min) Hops 24.8 IBU
1.00 oz Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] (15 min) Hops 7.3 IBU
1.00 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] (15 min) Hops 6.5 IBU
1.50 lb Amber Belgian Candi Syrup (40.0 SRM) Sugar 8.44 %
1.50 lb Dark Belgian Candi Syrup (80.0 SRM) Sugar 8.44 %

Single infusion 90 minute mash @ 148

Traditional Recipe

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Boil Size: 8.27 gal
Estimated OG: 1.090 SG
Estimated Color: 21.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 40.0 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 120 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount Item Type % or IBU
7.25 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM) Grain 41.43 %
7.25 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 41.43 %
0.75 oz Northern Brewer [8.50 %] (120 min) Hops 19.9 IBU
1.00 oz Hallertauer Hersbrucker [4.00 %] (25 min)Hops 8.0 IBU
1.00 oz Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] (25 min) Hops 10.8 IBU
3.00 lb Dark Belgian Candi Syrup (80.0 SRM) Sugar 17.14 %

Different mash options. Decoction, single/dual infusion, etc. We don't know much here.

Hops

Michael Jackson wrote (and BLAM re-wrote) that Northern Brewer was used for bittering (which has since been replaced by a hop extract) and Styrian Goldings and Hersbrucker for flavor. Amounts and schedules aren't very clear, my best estimations are above. I suppose substitute if you have to, but since we know this information I would try and stick close to it if possible.

Yeast

This one we have solid info on. Westvleteren uses yeast they get from Westmalle, and they pitch fresh on every batch. This means White Labs 530 Abbey Ale Yeast or Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity.

Fermentation Schedule

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brother Joris, head brewer of Westvleteren
Fermentation begins at 68f and then rises to at least 82f (even in the winter). After apparant attenuation reaches 76-80% he begins cooling the beer to 68f.
Westvleteren 12 spend four to six days in primary before lagering to clarify (crash cooling at 50f) for 8-10 weeks.
Bottle conditioning occurs at 79f and takes 12 days and they pitch more sugar and yeast to do so.
It is mentioned that they add yeast taken from high krausen, but not directly for bottle conditioning. The next line says that a secular worker drives to Westmalle on the brewing day to pick up the yeast, so they probably pitch fresh yeast for ferment.

They also say that Brother Joris can come in at the middle of the night (probably around the 36 hour mark when yeast population will max out) and makes sure the temp doesn't get above 84. So 82-84 degrees is our target fermentation temperature.

For this volume & gravity MrMalty says 2.91 liters from a stir plate will be sufficient, however, many people report the monks underpitch intentionally to get some of the good esters present. So I'll be pitching about 2.5 liters worth.

Carbonation
Volumes of carbonation. Unknown, though I think anywhere from 3.0 to 3.3 is probably going to be pretty spot on. Note: This may mean you need stronger bottles. Many 12oz/22oz bottles cannot handle as low as 3 volumes.

The Sugar
This is one of the monks secrets they are not willing to share. The most that Michael Jackson (and Stan from BLAM) have reported is that its a 'carmelized sugar'. Other people have reported that Dark Candi Syrup goes a long way for reproducing that special something. There is a good thread on HBT on about making your own sugar right here.
Alternatively there is a company called Dark Candi Inc which BLAM endorses. BLAM also states that between 15 and 20% of the fermentables can be sugar, which for a 5g batch is going to be between 2.75lbs and 4lbs.


Update 3

Water Profile
Brew Like A Monk reports that Westvleteren has a water profile that is not the most desirable for brewing, and specifically states that they treat their water because its high in bicarbonates, sodium, sulfate and chloride. The profile of Westvleteren's water profile is as such.

Westvleteren Water Profile
Calcium: 114
Bicarbonate: 370
Magnesium: 10
Sodium: 125
Sulfate: 145
Chloride: 139

I was thinking about how I would want to treat it, and remember reading that Chimay has a wonderful water profile, and several brewing chemists consider it "perfect for brewing". I think this might be pretty damn close to what Westvleteren shoots for when they treat it.

Chimay Water Profile
Calcium: 96
Bicarbonate: 287
Magnesium: 4
Sodium: 6
Sulfate: 32
Chloride: 13

This fits in with what water chemistry I know about water profiles for dark beers that is also confirmed by BLAM as being desirable for a Belgian Dark Strong Ale.

Please post your intention to participate in the judging/swapping in the following thread. This thread will remain dedicated to the discussion of brewing this particular beer, please do not discuss swapping or the judging event anymore in this thread.

Westvleteren 12 clone competition & swap - Home Brew Forums
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Last edited by saq; 08-07-2009 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 05-29-2009, 12:25 AM   #2
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Sounds like a plan, I'm going to toy around with the recipe and get some of the local micro-brew's ideas about it (Lost Abbey comes to mind). I can't brew until school is out though, which is in 3 weeks.

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Old 05-29-2009, 12:30 AM   #3
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I have been planning a westy 12 clone so I will probably go in for a swap.

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Old 05-29-2009, 01:35 AM   #4
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This has been on my to-brew list also. I'd jump in on this. I'm thinking it will be one of my next 2-3 brews, which would probably be in the next 2 months or so. I was planning on making my own dark syrup for this and using something like the recipe from BLAM and beer captured. I'll do some more research and figure out what I'm actually going to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saq View Post
Lets set a target date for trading starting on 9/15/09
Rockin, thats my birthday.
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Old 05-29-2009, 01:39 AM   #5
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If you did it in 2 months or so you wouldn't have much time before our trading deadline. Last Call brew date should probably be 6/30. Bottle 9/1 and start shipping out 9/15 or so.
Thoughts?

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Old 05-29-2009, 01:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saq View Post
If you did it in 2 months or so you wouldn't have much time before our trading deadline. Last Call brew date should probably be 6/30. Bottle 9/1 and start shipping out 9/15 or so.
Thoughts?
I missed the deadline the first time I read the post. I'll definitely shoot for brewing it within the next month, hopefully within maybe 2 weeks
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Old 05-29-2009, 02:46 AM   #7
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Ummmm... ok.

P.S. that means I'm in.

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Old 05-29-2009, 06:37 PM   #8
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Ok, after some playing around in Beersmith and some consulting brew lit. I think this is where I'm heading:

Westvleteren 12 clone
9.25# Belgian Pils
9.25# Belgian Pale
.75# Toasted Malt (1/1 pils/pale toasted @350 for 10 mins)
.25# Special B
.19# Carafa II
1 Jar of Dark syrup (1.5#, added at 3rd day of fermentation)
.25# amber candi sugar (added at 3rd day of fermentation, dissolved in water)

Double Decoction Mash: 122F, 147, 158
120 min boil

My theory is that the crystal malts can be replaced by kettle carmelization, hence the 120 min boil (I was still afraid to get rid of the Special B though, it has a certain flavor) and the biscuit/aromatic components are there to increase the breadyness/maltyness, which I have found (In my english ales at least) can be done by toasting a percentage of your malt.

I have read and heard much about how the grain bills on most belgians are very simple, and so I viewed all the crystal malts, biscuit, aromatic, etc. as additions for home-brewers to approximate for the flavors lost in not using techniques such as decoct and long boils, in order to make for a much simpler and shorter brew day. I'm still going to run this by a few breweries around to see what they think.

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Old 05-29-2009, 07:01 PM   #9
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What the heck I'll brew that again, I'd love to taste someone else's version. Plus I've still got a bottle of candi syrup in my pantry.

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Old 05-29-2009, 07:04 PM   #10
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Freeze-
Your recipe looks good but what about hops?

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