I've been intrigued by Hercule since I read about it in one of the Clone beer books. I tried that recipe but was very disappointed. Now with new clues from the actual brewers I've tried again and feel sure this one is going to be much closer.
12 lbs lager malt
2 lbs Special B
2 lbs Munich
1 lbs Aromatic
1 lbs Oats
1.5 lbs roast barley
.5 licorice root at 15
2 oz Haller for boil
1 oz Saaz at 20 minutes
Tasting notes on this usually mention a pine nose. I used Ardennes yeast as it does produce a background pine flavour when fermented at high temps.
Information on the breweries website mentions that there are no spices or adjuncts added.
Going into the keg this is a dark black with reddish tinges. It smells fresh and sweet. It fermented as quickly as it did because it went on top of yeast dregs from my last beer (Ommegang Abbey Dubbel clone).
I expect to be tasting this in a day or two so I'll report back with the findings.
This has now been in the keg for four days and although its really too young at this point I did a tasting last night. The beer is very smooth and rich. The roasty flavour is subdued and blended with the general maltiness of the beer. The Saaz hops does not stand out but blends with the roast grain, the malt and the spiciness of the Ardennes yeast.
I was shooting for a OG of 1090 but only got to 1082. Even so this is a very big bold beer that needs at least a month of aging to be at its best.
For the next go around I would change just a few minor things. I would add an extra couple of pounds of grain to boost the OG. To get the nose a bit closer I would make two more hop additions. One more ounce of Saaz at 5 and a dry hop of a half ounce would be nice too. All in all this recipe is great and I'll definitely be making this again.
How did this compare to the real thing?
Drinking it there is a great blend of flavours. Spice, malt, yeast and old fruit flavours from the mix of grains. The oats, dark roasts, Special B and huge amount of base malt all blend beautifully. The mouth feel is silky and medium bodied. Not a heavy beer in any sense.
As to how it compares to the real thing, sad to say I've never tasted one. It was the description that caught my attention and I'm glad it did. Another 6 months and this should be close to its peak.
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