Belgian Dark Strong Ale Westvleteren 12 Clone - Multiple Award Winner

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jturman35

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My keg that been in the keezer since July 2019 (16 months) is still not ready! I bottled 20 bottles using a beer gun in March and threw those in the closet at house temp to speed up the aging process. When i popped open the first bottle in June if this year, way better then the keg version, the syrup taste finally converted and now you get some raison. Reminds me more of Chimay Blue, which i think is better than the real Westy12 when you consider it's mass produced. It takes time for the syrup to do it's thing. The warmer the temp the faster the age process!

I even went as far to pull the keg out of the keezer for a month, but even at 16 months it's still not ready. I'm not certain the bottle plays a role in making this beer even better. I can't get my keg version as good as the bottle, so if you have the capability to bottle condition i would do it.
 

Joshuah57

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I just brewed the CSI version yesterday as a 10 gallon batch. I pitched a 5L decanted starter at 64 degrees. It's been 24 hours and I first have a little airlock activity. Could it be just a slow start? I do have another packet of the Wyeast 3787 yeast that I used for the original starter. Should I think of possibly pitching that or make another starter to pitch? From what I've read, it seems this yeast normally takes off much more than I am getting at this point.
 

Joshuah57

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An update to my last reply....

Not long after I posted, the fermentation really started to get going. After 6 days, the gravity went from 1.088 to 1.018. Unfortunately, my basement is a little cool and the temp is down to 69 from a peak of 77 on Tuesday. Would it help any if I racked to a secondary tomorrow and then place in a warmer location for a few more days?
 

Kee

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An update to my last reply....

Not long after I posted, the fermentation really started to get going. After 6 days, the gravity went from 1.088 to 1.018. Unfortunately, my basement is a little cool and the temp is down to 69 from a peak of 77 on Tuesday. Would it help any if I racked to a secondary tomorrow and then place in a warmer location for a few more days?

Warming it up is a good plan. If the yeast has already stalled and dropped clear, getting it going again can be hit or miss, but I'd probably give it a try.
 

Joshuah57

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Sorry for the late response. The beer ended up finishing nicely right at 1.013. It is now resting comfortably at 50 degrees. I plan on bottling it in 2 weeks after 4 weeks at that temperature.
 

Yeroc

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I brewed a 5 gallons batch on March 17, 2019, bottled May 27, 2019, then put the cases in the basement, and forgot about them until Thanksgiving 2020. So that's about 1.5 years of bottle aging.

I cooled down a bottle the day before and poured it on Thanksgiving. OMG, it was really enjoyable. Light carbonation. Flavors of burnt sugar, dark fruit, some chocolate & coffee. The alcohol is blended into the other flavors - it's there but not dominant. I am really happy the finish is dry and not cloying, which made me want to keep sipping this big beer.

I need to pull out a few more bottles to be ready for the rest of the holiday season.
 
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GnenieGone

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I brewed a 5 gallons batch on March 17, 2019, bottled May 27, 2019, then put the cases in the basement, and forgot about them until Thanksgiving 2020. So that's about 1.5 years of bottle aging.

I cooled down a bottle the day before and poured it on Thanksgiving. OMG, it was really enjoyable. Light carbonation. Flavors of burnt sugar, dark fruit, some chocolate & coffee. The alcohol is blended into the other flavors - it's there but not dominant. I am really happy the finish is dry and not cloying, which made me want to keep sipping this big beer.

I need to pull out a few more bottles to be ready for the rest of the holiday season.

Getting the bug again but will bottle about half (2.5gal) this time to age so your experience is encouraging. Copied the exact hop profile (which gives IBU 29 on BeerSmith) from post 1 but changing the candi syrup to 1-D90 and 1-D180 in attempt to match the color better. BS says it's about 24 currently. In addition, as other suggested will bump up the fermentation temperature in attempt to get those fruity esters I tasted in the original. I always brew a Dubbel first to build yeast cake so won't be till January some time. But @Yeroc , love to see a pic if you don't mind!

Edit:
After reading @jturman35 comments...maybe just bottle and age all of it. Waiting is not my thing tho! :)

Edit2:
I'm also adding 8oz Melanoidin which supposedly gives the final product that decoction mash character.
 
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Kee

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Getting the bug again but will bottle about half (2.5gal) this time to age so your experience is encouraging. Copied the exact hop profile (which gives IBU 29 on BeerSmith) from post 1 but changing the candi syrup to 1-D90 and 1-D180 in attempt to match the color better.

My last batch (about 4 gallons) I used 1 lb. D180, 1 lb. D90, and at least at the moment, prefer the flavor profile to the original recipe. I bottled one gallon, kegged the rest and may end up wishing I'd bottled more. I'm giving the keg 7 weeks of aging at room temperature, the bottles (except for the two I've already drunk) I hope to set aside for at least a few months, if not longer.
 

GnenieGone

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My last batch (about 4 gallons) I used 1 lb. D180, 1 lb. D90, and at least at the moment, prefer the flavor profile to the original recipe. I bottled one gallon, kegged the rest and may end up wishing I'd bottled more. I'm giving the keg 7 weeks of aging at room temperature, the bottles (except for the two I've already drunk) I hope to set aside for at least a few months, if not longer.

Yeah, I was thinking along those lines. I cold crash everything to clean it up. Makes sense to simply keg and store at room temp then to add/mix yeast back in to bottle condition. Beer gunning is a possibility once carbed but again, trying to make life easy here. Gives an excuse to buy yet another keg! Did the color come out more equivalent to the authentic Westy12? If you haven't had it, I have a pic a few posts up, #1394.
 

GnenieGone

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Do you have any trouble getting 5 gallons in and out of it? I thought about going that route but recently got a Fermzilla and wasn't sure about getting it in and out of a chest freezer.

Guess I missed this. Well true that! I've actually had to start working out again to carry around 40lbs of wort or kegged beer all over the place! ha!

I have a Fermzilla and it is a PIA. Went back to buckets. Fermzilla tube would get clogged. Attempting to dump the yeast/trub was a mess. Pressure transfers used 1/2 my CO2 tank. I made a collar out of 12in board to get the thing to fully fit in the chest freezer also.
 

Kee

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Yeah, I was thinking along those lines. I cold crash everything to clean it up. Makes sense to simply keg and store at room temp then to add/mix yeast back in to bottle condition. Beer gunning is a possibility once carbed but again, trying to make life easy here. Gives an excuse to buy yet another keg! Did the color come out more equivalent to the authentic Westy12? If you haven't had it, I have a pic a few posts up, #1394.

Yes, the color is much closer to the original substituting 1 lb. of D90. A few months ago was the first time I had the real thing, and was surprised by how much darker the clone is, using 2 lbs. of D180.

This time I'll probably just hook up the keg to CO2, maybe next time "bottle" condition in the keg or set aside more for bottling. The thing I like about bottling is that you can open a bottle periodically to see how it's aging. I never like to assume that a batch will peak in X number of months. I'm sure it varies depending on process, recipe, etc.
 

GnenieGone

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Guess I missed this. Well true that! I've actually had to start working out again to carry around 40lbs of wort or kegged beer all over the place! ha!

I have a Fermzilla and it is a PIA. Went back to buckets. Fermzilla tube would get clogged. Attempting to dump the yeast/trub was a mess. Pressure transfers used 1/2 my CO2 tank. I made a collar out of 12in board to get the thing to fully fit in the chest freezer also.

I've done three generations of 3787 with no perceivable issues. I'll probably brew a 2nd batch, like I did last time and bottle (or part) of each batch. After brewing 10gals of Westy12 one would think one could could put a few away for aging! Ha!
 

Dog House Brew

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I'm just starting the process to start brewing this. My brew day is planned for Halloween. Tonight I started the stage 1 of 2 starter. When I purchased the Wyeast 3787, I got 2 right away. I will use one for starter, but the other I want to use for bottling later on. What is the best recommended process and amount? I will be brewing a 10 gallon batch, so could I pitch the whole packet or will I need to split it or even make a starter for it?

Also, I saw a few talking about the boiling of the first runnings. Some say it's not worth the extra work, others have said they think it could have added some flavors. I will be using D-180. Might that be enough? I was thinking at this point that it could be interesting to try out. Any more opinions on this?

I will keep updating as to how it brews and ultimately turns out.
How did it go?
 

Yeroc

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Getting the bug again but will bottle about half (2.5gal) this time to age so your experience is encouraging. Copied the exact hop profile (which gives IBU 29 on BeerSmith) from post 1 but changing the candi syrup to 1-D90 and 1-D180 in attempt to match the color better. BS says it's about 24 currently. In addition, as other suggested will bump up the fermentation temperature in attempt to get those fruity esters I tasted in the original. I always brew a Dubbel first to build yeast cake so won't be till January some time. But @Yeroc , love to see a pic if you don't mind!

Edit:
After reading @jturman35 comments...maybe just bottle and age all of it. Waiting is not my thing tho! :)

Edit2:
I'm also adding 8oz Melanoidin which supposedly gives the final product that decoction mash character.

here’s a photo per your request.
28DD85AD-F770-464D-AD41-B2E25A8E82E2.jpeg
 

Joshuah57

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I'm having a little issue with my batch. I bottled the beer about 2.5 weeks ago. I've kept the bottles in an area that is about 75 degrees. Unfortunately, there is still very little carbonation in the beer. When I bottled, I added a pouch of Wyeast 3787 and 175 grams of corn sugar to 10 gallons. Might I need to add a small amount of sugar again? Should I continue to be patient and wait? I have 96 bottles of this quad and even with little carbonation, they taste pretty darn good. I can just imagine if I could get the right amount of co2 in there.
 

Oldskewl

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175 grams is pretty light for 10 gal. True-to-style you should have added almost double the priming sugar that you did, but most regular bottles are not able to hold that kind of pressure(3.0 vol max). You could have easily added another 75-100 grams of corn sugar. Here is a calculator to play with. I'm sure with a couple more weeks they may carb slightly more. To uncap and add more sugar would be a tedious undertaking that may to more harm than good. I would enjoy them the way they are.

 
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I've had problems sometimes getting Brewer's Gold Hops. What's a substitute that people have used for bettering, and has come out great?
 

GnenieGone

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I've had problems sometimes getting Brewer's Gold Hops. What's a substitute that people have used for bettering, and has come out great?

This is the last batch I made. Came out great. Hops aren't the thing the drives this beer anyway, imho. (Yeast is WY3787)

PXL_20210720_103846231.jpg
 
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Northern_Brewer

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I've had problems sometimes getting Brewer's Gold Hops. What's a substitute that people have used for bettering, and has come out great?

Don't sweat it, just use old-school British hops of a similar alpha - Challenger say. At 60 minutes it doesn't make too much difference, although personally I'd avoid high alpha hops of 13+% alpha acid.
 

GnenieGone

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No noticeable flavor difference?

It's been a couple years since I've has the real thing. A flavor came out of mine that I coin a "500 year old brewery flavor". I tasted it in the original, along with other's such as Rochefort. Hard for me to describe in words but it came out in mine. I guess musty is the word I'm looking for. Does that help??
 

MikeCo

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Lately I've been substituting either D-90 or D-45 for half the syrup and there's quite a bit of flavor difference. Right now I prefer using 50% D-180 and 50% D-45 for the candi syrup addition. That's totally personal preference and subject to change.

I have a version in secondary now with 2.5 lb of D-180 and all pale malt. I think I'll try the D-180 and D-45 combination next time and just use 2 pounds total.
 

MikeCo

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I tasted mine after bottle conditioning a couple weeks. Early, I know, but my initial reaction is that it tastes a lot like the candisyrup.com Rochefort 8 recipe I made which is based on 2 lb. of D-180. To me it seems much more on the pruney and raisiny flavor spectrum than the actual Westvleteren 12, which I remember as having some more caramel-like flavors.
 

Kee

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I tasted mine after bottle conditioning a couple weeks. Early, I know, but my initial reaction is that it tastes a lot like the candisyrup.com Rochefort 8 recipe I made which is based on 2 lb. of D-180. To me it seems much more on the pruney and raisiny flavor spectrum than the actual Westvleteren 12, which I remember as having some more caramel-like flavors.

On average, it's about the two month mark where I notice a significant mellowing of raisiny or syrupy flawors. I get more caramel when I do the boil down step (boiling down a portion of the wort into maltose syrup) but the difference is subtle, and I go back and forth as to whether it's worth it.
 

MikeCo

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On average, it's about the two month mark where I notice a significant mellowing of raisiny or syrupy flawors. I get more caramel when I do the boil down step (boiling down a portion of the wort into maltose syrup) but the difference is subtle, and I go back and forth as to whether it's worth it.
I'm sure it will change, but even at 1 year, my Rochefort 8 was still very heavy on that flavor. Is it less-so with the D-180/D-45 split?
 

Kee

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I'm sure it will change, but even at 1 year, my Rochefort 8 was still very heavy on that flavor. Is it less-so with the D-180/D-45 split?

Short answer, yes.

So I did bottle a batch Aug. 1 with 1 lb. D-240 and 1 lb. D-45 in a 4 gallon batch, but I'll wait at least a week to give it a (still too soon) taste.

Another batch I bottled June 1, another 4 gallon batch, I used 12 lbs. Pils, 1lb D-240, 1lb. cane sugar and about 5 oz D-45. The OG came in at 1.086. I really would not change a thing about the taste. There is not sharp syrupy taste that I sometimes detect using just D-180 (the D-240 is to me, taste wise, the same as D-180, just darker).

As you can see, I'm just playing around with the original recipe to find what works for me. And when one does pan out, I'll want to brew it several times with success before I get too excited about it being definitely the one.
 
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jturman35

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Just tasting mine for the first time in the keg since Sept last year. Not bad, still seems a little under carbed though. What are you guys running for c02 pressure? I around 30lbs and still not bubbly enough for my palette.
 
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