Starting to think there may not be a clone for this beer, yet. Anyone have some thoughts on where to start with a recipe?
Alcohol is quite high, at around 11%. I also have a couple bottles of this beer, so I can drink one and harvest yeast from the bottle. But, I've never developed a recipe before. So, I'm unsure of where to begin picking out different grains or hops.
Their description may help slightly. From the Het Anker web site:
- Type of beer: Dark special beer
- Colour: Ruby red
- Alcohol: 11% abv
- Hops: Exclusively Belgian hops
- Wort extract: 24° Plato
- Fermentation: High fermentation
- Lagering: 2 weeks
I'm was thinking hops might include Styrian Goldings, since that's a typical Belgian Strong Dark type of hop. But that's not a Belgian hop variety. The only ones listed in the HBT wiki from Belgium include:
- Groene Bel
The only one of the three listed that is still grown commercially is Record hops. However, it's always possible that the brewery has their own locally-grown patch of the other varieties. But, I have no way to know that, at least from what I've found so far. I've also found that other varieties are now being grown in Belgium, so it's not a huge deal to try a different variety. The beer also didn't seem to have a very high amount of IBUs when I drank it. It was very malty and sweet, with delicious caramel, stone fruit, and raisin-like flavors, but very little bitterness. I'd guess IBUs were in the 20's, tops. I figure that Styrian Goldings and Hallertau would make good choices for the hops, since they're mostly aromatic hops.
My other concern is that this beer is quite sweet. So, I'm not sure if they performed a higher-temp mash to preserve body and sweetness, or if they achieved the sweetness using other methods, or perhaps they added sugars to boost the alcohol content after a higher-temp mash.
I also noticed some light spice flavors, like clove and such in the beer. Not sure how to replicate that, or if it comes strictly from the yeast being used, as I know the Belgian yeasts tend to give off the clove and banana flavors during fermentation.
Carbonation was lighter. It wasn't very fizzy, and had a little less than is typical for a standard ale. I'm not very familiar with carbonation levels in Belgians. But I've noticed the heavier ones tend to be thick, creamy, and less-carbonated. But feel free to correct me here. I did note that one site mentioned additional fermentation in the bottles, which may be true since this beer is corked like Champagne, with the wire cap and all.
I've looked at a few other recipes and noticed the recipe for Chimay Blue, which I may have to buy a bottle of the actual Chimay Blue to try for a comparison. But the notes that I've seen tend to have some significant differences from the CvdKB.
As a start, I figured there must be pilsner malt in there as a base, so I thought about maybe Franco-Belges Pilsen Malt
or Bohemian Pilsner Malt
. Then some type of cara malt, something like Special B, Belgian Caramunich, or even Caramel 80L or 120L, for that raisin and stone fruit flavor. Though, what about something like Abbey Malt
I'm not sure on ratios, but here's a first stab at a BSDA recipe for a 5-gallon batch:
15lbs Franco-Belges Pilsen
1lb Special B
0.38lbs Belgian Aromatic Malt
2lbs Belgian candi sugar (med to dark color, added during fermentation)
1oz Styrian Goldings (60 min)
0.5oz Hallertau (30 min)
0.5oz Hallertau (10 min)
Mash @ 152°F @ 60-75 min
Estimated OG: 1.095
Estimated IBU: 23.6
Yeast: harvested from Cuvee van de Keizer Blauw, stepped up into starter size
Estimating the sugar will raise ABV to about 10%-11% or so.
Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? Again, I'm just kinda going off of what I'm seeing in ingredient characteristics and other recipes. Any help putting a recipe together would be awesome!