This was my second attempt at a Belgian Dubbel. It turned out really well. Probably the best beer I've brewed in the year and a half that I've been brewing.
Here's the details:
18 lbs. Pilsener malt
2 lbs. Light Munich malt
1 lb. CaraMunich
1 lb. Special B
1 lb. Brun Fonce - Dark Soft Candi Sugar (22°L)
1 lb. Dark Candi Syrup (90°L)
1 oz. Magnum - 12.3% AA - 60 min.
1 oz. Liberty - 3.9% AA - 10 min.
1 oz. Liberty - 3.9% AA - 5 min.
1 oz. Styrian Goldings - 6% AA - 3 min.
1 oz. Styrian Goldings - 6% AA - 1 min.
The mash was the one thing that I didn't have much control over on this batch. I was brewing on somebody else's equipment at a big brew day event. Because of that, my mash temps dropped way low AND it sat in the mash tun for a lot longer than I intended as I was waiting for an empty keggle. This is one of the factors that led to such a low FG. Also, I ended up with a pretty low efficiency, but the low FG made up for that in terms of the final ABV in the bottle. If you know your efficiency is going to be better than I had, you could just reduce the Pilsener malt accordingly.
The other factor was the way I added the candi sugar/syrup. I did not add it in the boil. I waited until the initial fermentation activity began to slow down to add the sugar. It ended up being about 2 days after pitching the yeast. Since it was 2 different kinds of candi sugar and I wanted to add even amounts of each kind into the two fermenters the batch was split between, I did dissolve it in some water. And since I had gone that far, I went ahead and boiled it for a few minutes to be sure I wasn't introducing any bugs to the brew. Then I added it to the fermenters (with only a little spillage
) and the airlocks were back to being super active in short order.
Because I wanted to participate in a tasting event connected to the big brew day event, I had a time limit on my fermentation. I left it in primary for 3 weeks, then bottled at about 2.4 vol of CO2. Kept it in a relatively warm part of the house to be sure it carbed up fully by the event and then gave it a couple days in the fridge.
By then, the beer was tasting really great. Perfect carbonation, beautiful color, wonderful aroma. The combination of the yeast character and the hops made for a nice and spicy aroma as soon as it was poured. I'm not great at identifying spices, but there was everything from peppery notes to nutmeg. That aroma is followed by a rich flavor full of dark fruit, brown sugar and apple pie.
It ended up at 6.9% ABV, but none of that alcohol is even noticeable in the flavor. I attribute that to the late addition of the sugar after the most vigorous fermentation was already passed. And even at such a low FG, the mouthfeel was as perfect as it could be. The beer feels silky on the tongue at first, but that fades quickly after swallowing and the dryness of the beer shows through as the palette is left cleansed and ready for another sip.
As it has sat in the bottles, the spicyness from the hops has faded quite a bit. But the complex dark flavors are still hanging around. Really a great beer that I will definitely brew again. Probably many times.