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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Trying to make a beer that tastes like Chimay Blue, or even Leffe Brune...sigh




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Old 11-04-2013, 11:19 AM   #1
SKYY
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Default Trying to make a beer that tastes like Chimay Blue, or even Leffe Brune...sigh

My last two attempts at a Belgian Abbey ale ended up not tasting one bit like a real Abbey Ale (a brune ~10.5% that sat for 5 months, and a blonde ~9.8% that carbonated in two weeks!). The blonde was drinkable, but it did NOT taste like a Belgian ale! It was not bitter enough, and the mouthfeel was wrong, and the Belgian "spice" level was not up to par. Same goes for the brune.

Of note, I used dry T-58 in both brews. If this is a bad strain of our brewing yeast, please tell me now, because otherwise I think I should have ended up with textbook Belgian Abbey ales, based on how scrupulous I am when it comes to following brewing instructions, boiling schedules, sanitizing, etc.

Anyway, both beers ended up being quite sweet...and not especially aromatic, other than the scent of banana-ish esters. Fermentation occurred over 4 months at 69º F (that temperature is surely a constant in this equation). The "spice" level in both was very low, contrary to what you should get when you smell or taste a real Belgian Abbey ale! Should I have attempted fermentation at higher temperatures?

My biggest problem with this whole thing is that I'm EXTREMELY good at making super-strong American ales (Stouts, IPAs, Barleywines [all > 12% ABV]), but my craving for that specific "Belgian Abbey" beer flavor is all but lost with the exception of finding a rare 6 or 4-pack of Chimay/Leffe/other rarities in the most rare of upscale grocery stores.

I think that I *SHOULD* be quite capable of brewing something similar to these Monks myself! I've tried, but all I can think of is that I should have used better yeasts (ie. Salvaged directly from Chimay or Leffe bottles) and attempted to brew the beer with that yeast instead.

I mean, it *HAS* to be the yeast, right? The only other ingredients are sugars and malts and other fermentables! Right?

All else failing, what else could these awesome Monks be doing to make their beers so much tastier than I can with my own personal means? Aging?

I'm about to give up on the whole Belgian thing!



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Old 11-04-2013, 12:15 PM   #2
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Yes, it's the yeast. There really is no good dry Belgian yeast. Try using WLP530, WLP500, or the Wyeast equivalents. Make an appropriate starter, pitch around 65F, and warm to 75F over the course if 10-14 days.



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Old 11-04-2013, 12:29 PM   #3
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Of note, I used dry T-58 in both brews.
I agree with g-star. T-58 is not a good choice. The flavor for Belgians comes from the yeast. WY1214/WLP500 is the Chimay strain of yeast so that will give you the flavor you are looking for. DO the fermentation schedule he recommends and you should be pretty close.
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Old 11-04-2013, 12:50 PM   #4
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If you want to be able to brew Belgian ales to style then get the book, Brew Like a Monk. Best brewing book I have read.

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Old 11-04-2013, 04:34 PM   #5
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T-58 is decent, but maybe not for this. I agree with others that the yeast should be switched to the Westmalle or Chimay strain, and after a couple days let the temperature get up to the mid-70s (some get over 80, but I've had issues doing that.) Real invert sugar helps with flavor, too.

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Old 11-04-2013, 05:42 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by g-star View Post
Yes, it's the yeast. There really is no good dry Belgian yeast. Try using WLP530, WLP500, or the Wyeast equivalents. Make an appropriate starter, pitch around 65F, and warm to 75F over the course if 10-14 days.
This ^^^^^^^^^^ is key. Plus letting the heavier styles condition for 3+ months before drinking.
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Old 11-05-2013, 12:01 PM   #7
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From what I've gathered emperically from this thread, true Belgian Abbey ales are fermented at moderate termperatures (73ºF+). Perhaps I could have salvaged my last two brews by fermenting them at higher temperatures, but that will never be known for sure.

The next time I brew a Belgian "Abbey Ale", I'll be sure to order an appropriate amount of specialty yeast. Apparently, T-58 isn't good for anything, according to the masses.

I used to think that for every popular expensive liquid yeast, there was an affordable, long-lived dry yeast packet. This is perhaps the only example that goes against that.

Thanks yet again, HBF!

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Old 11-05-2013, 12:15 PM   #8
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Don't forget the book. I learned quite a bit from it, its a good read.



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