Doctor Duvel

I'm like a sommelier, but for beer.

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Location: Upstate New York, United States

Favorite Beers: Orval, Samuel Smith, Duvel, Hennepin, Oude Gueze, Chimay, Dogfish Head, Anchor Steam, and anything made by Trappist monks.

Friday, March 18, 2005

That Belgian Stout

First of all, I have the perfect name: Brother Shamus.

I'm trying to prune the incredibly undisciplined recipe I proposed the other day.

I'm hoping for an O.G. of 1084-5, and a final of 1014-15. The mash will be a simple stepped infusion, with maybe forty minutes at 150 or so and then a ramp up for some dextrins. The goal is about 9% a.b.v. Will have a two week secondary on a big handful of oak chips. The 1:1 BU:GU ratio typical for dry and foreign stouts would seem a little strident. I'll adopt a milder imperial type ratio of about .8:1. How about 65 I.B.U.? I think that should balance it without becoming harsh or detracting too much from the malt and ester action. Because I recall some greenish hop aroma, I'll give it a halfway decent little aroma addition at the end. I have on hand Kent Goldings, Willamettes, Saaz, and Styrian Goldings. I was leaning toward the Kents and, since I have quite a lot of them, that would make sense. I'll save the more Belgian Saaz and Styrians for a tripel where they'll show, and I'll figure the Willamettes would be too much. I also have some stray Fuggle pellets which could be interesting. The bittering hop is Northern Brewer. Just makes sense. The yeast is Wyeast 3787.

aromatic and flavor components I'm going for: roasty, toasty, coffee, chocolate, leather, sage, spruce, mint.

The Recipe:

OG: 1085
SRM: 40+
IBU: 64

10 lbs Pale
.5 lbs Pils
1 lb Crystal 60
.8 lbs Oats
.63 lbs Crystal 120
.5 lbs Carapils
.5 lbs Special B
.5 lbs Crystal 75
.5 lbs Wheat
.44 lbs Munich
.4 lbs Roasted Barley
.35 lbs Carafa II
.15 lbs Chocolate
.25 lbs Jaggery

2 oz Northern Brewer (60)
.5 oz Fuggle (25)
.5 oz Fuggle (15)
1 oz Kents (5)

Seriously considering a little dose of licorice root as well. Must research quantities. Or could save the licorice root for a 18th or 19th century British porter.

On an incidental note, I've been fiddling with this post and the recipe off and on for two days. At some point I had a Harvey's Christmas Ale, which I'd recommend. It's got an OG of 1090 and an alcohol content of 8.1, which would suggest it finishes at 1029. In other words, this has a huge, sweet, malty palate. Big nose of malt and candied/dried fruit (prunes); full, dextrinous palate with just enough acidity and hopping to balance; lingering fruity finish with just a little hit of Fuggles-y bitterness. Fairly vinous. This might be what some of those recipes in Old British Beers and How to Make Them would come out tasting like. Those nutty onces that are just huge quantities of Maris Otter and a judicious dose of Fuggles or Goldings. . .

And one more beer. Courtesy of Kraig's Kegs, a just discovered beer selection gem, Brasserie Caracole's Saxo. Caracole is a teeny little artisanal outfit working with 19th century equipment. Which I think is cool. The cork on the bottle of Saxo is dated 3/2001. I'm wondering if that means this was on a shelf in rural NY for four years. If so, it took it well. The nose has that lovably rustic corky thing going on, with a really unusual, and lovely, cherry aroma. I also catch tangerine, hints of pineapple, and vanilla, plus some cloves as it warms up. The palate is quite spicy, very dry, and a little tart too. Quite a beautiful beer really.

So I've at last nailed down the Belgian stout. Tomorrow, a conventional Oatmeal Stout. Saturday, we'll try the Belian stout. Here's hoping the highest gravity beer I've ever made doesn't give me too much trouble. . . Anticipating disaster, I bought a special blow-off tube.


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