Westvleteren 12 Group Brew & Swap

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tested the beer. :(

Still at 1.040. The smell is very strong, and the taste is even stronger. Has a ton of pruniness from the syrup, which is pleasant at first, but get overpowering very quickly. it is also really dark. Not quite a stout darkness, but getting there.

I might have to brew a small batch of a small, light Belgian to blend with this at bottling.
 
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saq

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Its supposed to be dark, almost like a porter. 38 SRM specifically, thats really dark.

What fermentation temperature did you achieve? The beer really needs to get up to at least 79f to begin to approach the levels of attenuation we see here (86%!) 82-83 is the official Westvleteren 12 fermentation temperature for about 5 days, followed by two days at 65f.

How much yeast did you pitch?
 
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2l starter into about 3 gallons of wort. I think part of my problem is that I still added the full 3lbs of syrup instead of scaling down due to the lower volume.

Temp has probably been more in the 77 range. Window is open in the fermentation room now letting in the 92deg air. It is still fermenting, so all is not lost.
 

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I moved mine down to the basement, so probably in the 60s now. Still bubbling constantly, though I think I'll take a refractometer calculation to be sure because my hefe got something nasty in it and fermented down to 1.003 (where I said eff it and kegged).
 

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Well I pitched my starter last night since I was waiting on it to pick up from the weekend. About 2.8L in to the Westy 12 and 1.5L into the Westy 8. This morning constant bubbling from the 8 and a huge belch from the the 12 every other second from the blow off tubes in a gallon container of starsan. The ambient temperature is at around 79-81F in the room. I expect to find it going crazy when I get home today. Since I was a bit off on the 12, I'm going to be adding another 2.5lbs of my Extra Dark Syrup to bring the brew up to 1.097 probably sometime tomorrow or the day after. I'll also be adding 3 lbs of DME and 2 lbs of the extra dark syrup to the 8 to bump up the gravity a bit more since it was extremely low and get it to the correct color.
 
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Careful with the ambient temp there, the yeast sees about a +6f rise over ambient. That means you want your ambient around 74-75f. You should have those thermometer strips on your fermenters so you know what your fermentation temp is.
 

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Hmm ok I'll see if I can correct it later today. I unfortunately don't have any thermo strips, I'll have to get some of those...
 

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Well checked up on it today, beer temp was at 78-79.
The 12 was at 1.050 from 1.097 (46.2%) and the 8 at 1.033 from 1.072 (52.4%). The 12 is quite fruity, reminds me of a fermenting wine.
The 8 on the other hand is quite mellow, not as fruity or estery.
Anyhow below is a pic, the 12 is in the glass and the 8 in the hydrometer cylinder.

IMG_0673.jpg
 

Scut_Monkey

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saq,

Do I understand correctly that you guys fermented at 74-75 ambient and that the fermentation itself was at ~82F. I was under the assumption that the ambient was at 82 and the fermentation was at whatever. I was trying to figure out a way to do this without a heating pad but this is not necessary if the ambient temp was closer to 74F. Thanks! :)
 
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Yes, my fermentation freezers ambient temp was about 75f so that my fermentation temperature of my vessel (the only temperature that REALLY matters when it comes to fermentation) is at 82f. Stick some thermo-strips or thermowells on your fermentation vessel so you can dial it in.
 
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A few updates, with lots of pictures.

First up, Westy 12 New World recipe. Its been conditioning for about 4 weeks and gravity hasn't change. Its pretty dark, can barely see through it in a glass. Tasted pretty good, kind of reminiscent of St Bernardus 12, was really smooth. My OG number and fermentation on this one pretty much hit the numbers exactly. 1.090 to 1.012 in a week for 86% attenuation just like the monks do it.
westy12new_sample1.jpg

westy12new_sample2.jpg


Next up, the traditional recipe!
Its not as dark as I was expecting, reminds me kind of like a barleywine. Got a nice dark color but is still transulcent. The taste on this one however, is unbelievable! I think putting the sugar in for the full boil is one of their secrets!

I overboiled a little bit and ended up with a little bit less wort than planned (5.25g instead of 5.5g) and I hit my 75% efficiency so I ended up with a 1.096 OG, and I didn't quite get fermentation temp up to 82f, more like 80f and so I got about 83-84% apparant attenuation with a FG of 1.015.

westy12trad_sample1.jpg

westy12trad_sample2.jpg
 
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Ok, I secured an extra bottle of Westvleteren 12, so I cracked open the 2008 vintage one I had for a tasting! This will hold me off from tapping my two brews too early.

westvleteren12_realthing.jpg


Appearance: Dark opaque brown, thick offwhite head (it was almost up to the top of the glass on initial pour) with good carbonation.

Aroma: Bread crust, a little bread dough, some fruity esters, and a hint burnt/candied banana at the end. The banana comes out a little bit more as it warms. No clove.

Flavor: Initial flavors of sweet malt characters that is a little bit like a ripe fig, nice and round and full. Touch of raw cocoa, and a touch of candied banana that fade into a lingering very pleasant finish on a bed of residual sweetness. Kind of like a Belgian Barleywine. Moderately sweet (but balanced with some bitterness), very complex and delicious. No alcohol bite.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied mouthfeel that is not too heavy or oily in the classic monk style. Carbonation level is pretty moderate, it refreshes the palate without getting in the way. Probably 2.6-2.7 volumes.

Overall: Belgian beer is like a sweet almost candi-like refreshment, and this is a great example of such. The beer is so simple and yet so complex at the same time, a true masterpiece of brewing.

Notes for people attempting to recreate this beauty: Its all about the sugar. I can definitely tell that Belgian pilsner and pale malts were used, but the beer is a showcase of the very fine Westmalle yeast and the dark sugar that is used. Hop flavors are *almost* nonexistent and there is some bitterness to keep the beer from being cloying sweet.
If you compare the picture of this beer with my new world beer recipe, I think its really really close. The traditional recipe is obviously way too light. However in flavor, the traditional is much closer. When I mixed the new world and traditional together it was a fairly close overall comparison to the real thing. We'll see what aging time does to these beers.
From left to right: My traditional recipe, my new world recipe, the real thing.
westy_lineup1.jpg

westy_lineup2.jpg
 

KingBrianI

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so the new world recipe is closer in taste too? interesting. i think my traditional recipe is a bit darker than yours, but i've never tasted the real thing in order to compare how close the taste is.
 
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Whoops! Meant to say the traditional is closer in flavor. I'm racking my brain how to get the color closer to the real thing. I think BLAM stating the Westvleteren 12 being 40 SRM might be inaccurate, they do kind of admit that quantifying the color is difficult. My new world is 26.6 according to beersmith and its nearly spot on, whereas my traditional is 22.6 according to beersmith and far too light. I think a darker candi syrup would do the trick.
 

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ok good, that makes me feel better. i think you've just inspired me to go grab a sample from mine to check on it's flavor. i haven't touched it since i started conditioning it at 50 F. it will be interesting when we swap to see what candi syrup flavors each person's beer has and how they compare to the real thing (for those people who have had it). as i stated earlier in the thread, i used homemade candi syrup, and while it tasted great, i have no idea how it compares to commercial candi syrups or that used by westy.
 
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I think when I do a 3rd attempt later in the year its going to include some homemade sugar as dark as I can possibly make it. 3lbs of 100-120 SRM would do the trick for a 5.5g batch.
 

KingBrianI

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Have you tried making any yet? That stuff is delicious! I made some more yesterday for a beer I was doing today, and I couldn't stop licking the pot I cooked it in. You can't believe how many flavors develop from just some sugar, water and DAP. I'm gonna have to start keeping some on hand to pour over ice cream and anything else I can think of.
 

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Have you tried making any yet? That stuff is delicious! I made some more yesterday for a beer I was doing today, and I couldn't stop licking the pot I cooked it in. You can't believe how many flavors develop from just some sugar, water and DAP. I'm gonna have to start keeping some on hand to pour over ice cream and anything else I can think of.

I know, I keep a jar of dark and a jar of amber around for use in baking and morning oatmeal, I'm thinking of using amber syrup in place of the turbando in my english bitter recipe.

As for the color, I'm really considering cheating next time I make this and throwing in a few ounces of carafa III, that should do the trick.
 

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I racked my "old school" batch into a keg yesterday. Dropped to 1.012 as planned. I was busy racking 2 other fermenters at the same time so I didn't have a chance to catch a pic. I had a gallon left over so I stuck it in a jug and pitched some bugs in it.

I'll rack my "new school" batch next week when I get back from portland. I'll probably funk out a gallon of this batch too since I should have about a gallon extra of it.
 
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Hopefully everyone is getting close to the end of the 8 week conditioning period so we can have our tasting in September.

I think to spice things up I think I'll offer up a bottle of Westvleteren 12 to whomever comes the closest, myself excluded of course. I will have at least a 3 person tasting panel. Hows that sound? :)
 

KingBrianI

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Hopefully everyone is getting close to the end of the 8 week conditioning period so we can have our tasting in September.

I think to spice things up I think I'll offer up a bottle of Westvleteren 12 to whomever comes the closest, myself excluded of course. I will have at least a 3 person tasting panel. Hows that sound? :)

no complaints here! do you think they'll be conditioned enough in september?
 

Saccharomyces

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Hopefully everyone is getting close to the end of the 8 week conditioning period so we can have our tasting in September.

If conditioning means malt in the garage then I'm close. :D I was going to brew this week, but if you are expecting it to be ready in September I'm gonna have to drop out of the swap. I have been too busy this summer to brew it to this point, and already had a full brew schedule to make the various comps I'm entering into.
 
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no complaints here! do you think they'll be conditioned enough in september?
Mine will be finishing their 8 week conditioning phase in August, so a 2 week carbonation phase will put it into late August. Perhaps we put it off into October.
 
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If conditioning means malt in the garage then I'm close. :D I was going to brew this week, but if you are expecting it to be ready in September I'm gonna have to drop out of the swap. I have been too busy this summer to brew it to this point, and already had a full brew schedule to make the various comps I'm entering into.

Don't have any comps you want to put a kick ass Dark Strong Ale into? :) I know my final winner of my three (traditional, new world and blended) is going into some comps.
 

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Don't have any comps you want to put a kick ass Dark Strong Ale into? :) I know my final winner of my three (traditional, new world and blended) is going into some comps.

Next year maybe. I'll add it to my brew schedule for January, and enter it into next summer's comps, that way I can do a full 5 gallons...
 

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Well I had a slow ferment which severely hindered my time. If we can do the swap in October that would give me more time for conditioning/lagering and bottle conditioning. I mean if that's ok with everyone else.
 

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+1 please?

I just racked yesterday :/ Slow ferment + out of town + 'where the eff is my tubing' = boo.

Also, after I filled my carboy (right to the top too: oxidation's mah bitch) I noticed that the inside might not have been as clean as I thought. I don't know what the hell this is, but I should realize that no matter how little I want to rerack, it's better than wasting 5 gallons of this delicious (and 11.4%) elixir, right?

Here's what it looks like

Here's a shot of the carboy being filled, and me saying hi in the bucket.
 
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Now why'd you go and do that? You should take better care to clean & sanitize your carboys before use :( I'd get it out of there ASAP, but the damage may already be done.
 

Sigafoos

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Yeah, I know I'm a moron. I finally (this week has sucked) reracked yesterday, after cleaning the hell out of a new carboy, and something that looked similar was near the top again. So I'm just going to set and forget and hope for the best, because constantly reracking is only going to introduce more o2.
 

Sigafoos

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Oh yeah, and it didn't taste off at all. The 11.4% is definitely evident, and beyond that I didn't get much because it was the yeasty dregs. Barring anything horrible from this, though, it's gonna be tasty :)
 

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Doing the new world style. So I couldn't get the dark candy syrup and got amber crystal 2.0 lbs. So when are you guys adding the dark candy? During the boil or after fermentation? Does it matter?

What times for the hope additions?
 

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From what I understand, the traditional recipe is going to give you the closer tasting version.
Regarding the sugar at the beginning of the boil is going to give you best utilization of the dark color that you want to achieve.
I'd recommend making your own, check out this thread: clicky.

And here is my variation of those above sugar schedules that will yield a deep dark sugar that will do perfectly for this brew.
 
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I did my sugar addition for my traditional at the beginning of a 2 hour boil and it added color and all kinds of awesome carmelized flavors which IMO are essential to replicating this beer.
 

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so with 2lbs of candi sugar amber(crystal) with 40 mins to boil... 240 lovibond Think I should add it and be done with it?

Man it smells dreamy!!!

*** edit *** added the sugar with 40 mins to boil. I ended up with a nice dark amber color, nothing like beersmith predicted. I had fun brewing this one and learned a lot.

I did the following different...
-used German style pils 12.5#
-Candi Amber 2# (LHB was out of liquid)
-Wyeast Abbey II (didn't make a starter) Used the smack pack with 100billion directly into 68deg wort (continuous stream of CO2 48hrs into it.)
-Double Hop Additions (2oz each 60,30,3) Didn't notice they were 2oz packs till later..
-Did a 60 min boil, 40 mins with sugar
-158 mash 70 mins, 168, 168 additions
-ended up 1.072 preboil and 1.084 post boil gravity
-48hrs @ 75 degrees, moved to 80 tonight hope to stay close to 80-82 to end of primary.

***edit***
It's down to 1.014 and still going after 5 days. Definitely slowing down from yesterday.
Color is dark amber brown, still not as dark as it should be.
Taste is nutty, bitter and finishes with some hints of spice and a little banana though not much at all.
 

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I just want to be sure of something here: this isn't like the 0x.0x.0x swaps where you have to be a paying member, right? I mean I love HBT and owe it the world, but at this point explaining to my wife that I need to donate money to a website so I can trade beers and because they've been cool to me isn't really going to fly. But I've been around for a while now and need IRC to distract me at work so don't worry about me running off with your beer :)

As long as I'm not not cool enough to do this, when are we swapping?
 
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You don't have to be a paying member to participate in a trade (though you should be a paying member anyways!!!) as long as a paying member is organizing it (me).

I guess I've put up a prize (bottle of Westy 12) so its more like an unofficial BJCP competition only for 18E, Belgian Dark Strongs.

New thread created! Please post your intention to participate in the judging/swapping in the following thread and you will be added to the list. This thread will remain dedicated to the discussion of brewing this particular beer, please do not discuss swapping or the judging event anymore in this thread.


Westvleteren 12 clone competition & swap - Home Brew Forums
 
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