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.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Freezer on premises

Buck drove me out to pick up the freezer and then helped me put it in the basement--which was easier than I would've thought. Hurray. I'm watching for UPS and the thermostat. At which point I will always have beer on tap at whatever temperature I want, or beer fermenting at exactly the right temperature. And except when I'm doing really cold lagering, both at the same time.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mess-less Brewing

I think I might have figured this out. I brewed today without really making a mess at all. And I double-decocted too. One tiny boil-over which I wiped up really quick, trivial floor stickiness which I remedied as I went along--not much else. I made this big wheat doppelbock, which I think should be good. It was a recipe of rushed and perhaps imperfect conception, but with really good German malts there's only so wrong you can go--this involved my first use of Weyermann Chocolate Wheat (yum) and a dark Durst crystal malt (83L). So the beer came out, I think, rich and very malty. Props to Northern Brewer for having a kick-ass range of specialty malts.

I'm sipping my smoke beer right now. My friend Buck really dug this beer the other day; he said it had zero esters in the nose (a goal in lager brewing) and liked the malt character. Large proportions of good-quality Munich and decoction will do that. But he should have smelled it fermenting--I thought it'd never come around. It's pretty good now.

Speaking of German beers, if anyone has any suggestions, speak up: I'm all amped up about making a full-blown Doppelbock--the wheat one is just a warm up. It will be very, very big and triple-decocted. Never mind that I already have too many brewing projects lined up. If I were to make another lager, just to have a big, happy yeast cake to tackle the doppel, what should I make? Something Oktoberfest-y? A lighter-weight bock? Another pilsner? A smokier smoke beer? What? Eh. Maybe I'll just skip straight to the doppel. But suggestions are still welcome.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Too much beer

So I've planned too many beers to make and the next couple weeks are going to be a little interesting. Since I've got to get this thermostat ordered today, I'll need a couple other things to complete the picture of chaos. I've got everything I need to brew my XX Bitter-ish beer, my Wheat Doppelbock, and Holly's Chair. I've got the specialty malts for the dreaded 1856 Imperial Stout. It's only dreaded because of the volume problem--I'm borrowing a friend's sparge bucket and help in managing a double sparge. Anyway, I need the base malt for that.

There's two other beers in my head I need to sort out and work in somewhere.

A) My Belgian pale has finished primary, needs to be racked, and should go in a keg in very short order. This frees up a cake of La Chouffe yeast. I'm still feeling hapless on this one. I want it to be a genuinely dark Belgian, but not a stout. I have tons of Belgian specialty malts kicking around the basement. I think it should involve some dark sugars, some spicing (coriander, orange, thyme), and lots of malt. I thought about using a little rauch malt, but that somehow feels like cheating right now. We'll see what the yeast does instead. Sometime I should do a conceptual McChouffe, by designing a Scotch ale grain bill as authentically as possible and then using Belgian yeast, but for now I'm thinking loosely in the vein of N'Ice Chouffe, but however I want at the time. Using the data on N'Ice Chouffe from the importer, it'd be around 1099 (yikes), might also involve vanilla, and definitely needs dark candi sugar. And it's hopped with Golding and Saaz. Shit, this is too complicated. I'm going to get a pound of dark candi sugar and 10 lbs of Belgian pils and sort out the rest later. Saaz I have--Goldings I might need slightly more of. Note that after converting the imperial stout to pellets, I should have an ounce or two to spare for one of these.

B) Since I have Roeslare yeast and Saison Dupont yeast in the house, I thought I'd mix the two, using just a teeny bit of the Roeslare too allow very delicate, gradual souring. This would be used to ferment a beer after the manner of Saison de Pipaix, a spiced Saison that can age and turn a little lambic-y. For this I would need, some Belgian Pilsner malt, some Vienna, and some Amber. I've already got the last, plus spices and Hallertauer. This leaves some combination of Goldings, East Kent and Styrian. Not sure about IBU's on this, by the way. Maybe 25? Not so much that they shout out the spices--but then the spices need to be subtle. I'll figure that out later.

Shopping list:

One analog temperature controller
14 lbs good British Pale (Maris Otter?)--for Imperial
10 lbs Belgian Pilsner--for Chouffe-ish thing
1 lb dark candi sugar
4 oz. Styrian Goldings
7 lbs Belgian Pilsner--for Pipaix-ish thing
5 lbs Vienna

Done. That oughta hold me for a while. Other than ironing out the details and making several beers, the next priority is to come up with top drawer recipes for an ESB and a porter. I'm getting pretty well stocked with over-complicated Belgians that won't be ready forever. Oh, but then when the weather's a little cooler, it is lambic-time. Blast.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

And we have keggage

Yes, over four weeks after the original order date, take two of my keg shipment finally arrived. I'm putting a Bavarian-style Weizen in it tomorrow or the next day and will force carbonate it all up, throw it on ice, and have people over Sunday. It's about damn time. Then Monday I have to brew that wheat doppel, as the yeast cake from the basic weizen will be lonely. Keep your fingers crossed that a big ol' box o' grain shows up tomorrow.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Wheat Doppel

OK, so I'm ordering a shitload of stuff tomorrow: Grain for an XX-Bitter style hoppy Belgian, grain and hops for Holly's Chair (a rye brown), and the specialty malts for Cynthia's graduation beer, also known as 1856 Barclay Perkins Imperial Brown Stout.

This leaves just one yeast that is begging for re-pitching: The Weihenstephan cake from my Hefe-Weisse. Logic and economics would suggest that the time is right to brew up a beer in the manner of Schneider Aventinus. Consulting my references. . .

Starting gravity: about 1074
7.7 abv
Pale, crystal, and dark malts
Caramalt (Bamberg)
"deep, russet brown"

Examining the German malts available from Northern Brewer. Hops would presumably be Tettnang or Hallertauer.

Pilsner + Wheat base
Durst Crystal
Weyermann Chocolate Wheat
have Melanoidin already
Pale, Dark, and Caramel Wheat available.

Shit. This is complicated. Jerm called. I tweaked another recipe instead. Bloody hell. I may try to fix this tomorrow--not sure how to do it.

Random brewing ideas (Rogue and Trappist)

Sometime when I get bored, here's a couple things:

Rogue beers I could use as jumping off points:

Chipotle Ale (was terrific)
Uber Pils (all Sterling)
Juniper Pale Ale (have been contemplating juniper beers)

Roger Protz, in his book on monastic brewing gives the following tidbits:

Orval: English crystal. Hallertauer and Styrians for boil, Kents dry.

Rochefort: Pilsner, Munich, Hallertauer and Styrians.

Westmalle: Pale, Northern Brewer. Sugar is dark for blue and yellow, pale for green.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Harrowing Brew Day

There are some days you just shouldn't brew. Trouble is you never know until it's too late.

Today I brewed my Belgian Pale. I thought that while brewing I would also suavely rack my Hefe-Weizen and my Autumn Saison into secondary. I wasn't going to bottle at the same time, thank god, so I thought it'd be easy. Not so much.

First, everything got set back about 90 minutes because I had to help Lisa deal with her car snafu. Around 1 pm I scrambled my recipe together. This is the beer that got fucked up by the dude at the homebrew store who assumed all the grain I was buying was destined for the same beer and mixed them. I thus had 5 lbs pale, 3 lbs Vienna, and 3 lbs Munich I had to use. I tried to look at that as a creative opportunity. I wrote a recipe that let those mid-range toasty malts do the talking, supplementing them only with 1/4 lb doses of Aromatic and Caramunich. Hopping was split between Saaz and Hallertau. Sounds good right?

So I started my mash. First of all, the mash was arbitrarily uneven in temperature, despite the fact that I did everything the way I normally do. That irritated me. Just about the time I was getting ready to sparge, I started sanitizing shit to rack the other beers. This is where I ran into serious trouble. Lazy, I had left several key tubes and siphon bits and so on in a bucket of iodophor since last time I brewed (about 12 days). If you think about it, that's pretty dumb. I noticed, in retrieving the various items, that they were covered with a thin mucillaginous layer, and that the bucket smelled a little sour. Great. I've just spent two weeks cultivating and breeding bacteria (or something) that are resistant to my sanitizer. . .

This freaked me out (I think understandably) and I swore at myself for being a useless dipshit for a while. Somehow, I needed to sanitize three carboys and countless bits and bobs, most of which I could only assume were crawling with uber-microbes. I called Brad, who uses Star-San instead of iodophor (different sanitizers). He wasn't in, so I had to go old school and just mix up a big gnarly bucket of strong bleach solution, which meant everything needed to be double rinsed. While I was absorbed with this unpleasantness, I zoned out and let my sparge go totally fucko on me. Whenever you leave sweet wort dripping unattended through a tube into an under-sized vessel, the spigot realizes this, adjusts itself, and goes from trickling to rushing. So I came in the door, sopping wet from hosing off bleachy shit, only to find the kitchen floor running with wort, and quite a bit of it at that. The wort made a bee-line for the dining room, but didn't go in. Instead it found some sort of hole behind a bit of baseboard and started running into the basement. So I flung towels around and ran into the basement to assess the damage. I'll say this: Floorboards make a great sparge bed. That wort was crystal clear. Unfortunately, it was also all over a dirty cement floor.

I cleaned up the basement and went upstairs vowing to leave nothing unattended and to focus carefully. I might add that I was quite sober throughout. I just couldn't focus though; the floodgates were opened and pretty much everything else I did I screwed up. I added one of my hop charges at completely the wrong time, because I am apparently unable to read a kitchen timer. I lost my grip on the wort chilling hose twice, spraying water all over. I had to use the wrong size hose to run off the finished wort into the fermentor. The hose promptly slipped off the kettle spigot and shot into the carboy where it was irretrievable without ten minutes of shaking and fiddling and fingering. I spilled spent hops all over the floor. The beer was psychotically foamy and kept freaking out whenever I stuck in the aeration gizmo and gumming up the floor I had just cleaned. Oh, and just when I was congratulating myself for at least not boiling the beer over, I promptly let it boil over, totally decking the erstwhile clean stove. Oh, and I also dented my brew pot.

So everything took three times as long as it should and I'm totally exhausted. I'm so exhausted I've even forgotten how to swear normally. After one particularly pitiful spill I heard myself say "Cockasaurus!"

I've never said anything like that before. Perhaps I was possessed.

The beer is finally done and the only really positive thing I can report is that the Autumn Saison tasted beautiful when I racked it. But it was not really my day. My feet hurt and I'm going to bed. . .

Monday, July 11, 2005

Tripel, early returns

Thought I'd sample my Tripel as long as I'm wasting the evening. Lisa feel asleep early and I'm procrastinating cleaning up my office.

This has a deep, golden color and an unflappable, egg-whitey head. I brewed this 4/23 and it's been in bottles for a good six weeks. Alcohol is 9.8%. Fermented all the way from 1082 to 1011, which I think speaks well of my mashing instincts. Looks like I mashed at 145-146. Nose is driven by the yeast character (Wyeast 3787), which I know well from other brews. It's a mixture of creamy richness and herbal dryness--I also pick up some nice pear fruit. The palate is clean and full at the same time. Whether it will eventually attain the sort of spectacular poise of something like Westmalle Tripel, I don't know. At the moment, it tastes big, but also hides the alcohol fairly well. The maltiness is very clean, which I take as a good sign as well. Probably this will come into its own next spring and the challenge will be not to sample it too often. But, then, I have like two-and-a-half cases I think. I like the finish--I hopped it just a tad higher than is typical of the tripel recipes I reviewed, which I think reins in the maltiness a little more neatly. Anyway, it's a tad raw, but totally tastes like a tripel, so, who's complaining?

I have a hunch, by the way, that my problem as a brewer of Belgian style beers, is that I should let the yeasts do the talking and not get too carried away with the specialty malts. Note to self: Restraint. Keep it simple. It's amazing how many great beers are brewed with just Pilsner malt. Or Pils plus just one or two specialty malts. No need to resort constantly to a half-pound each of four other malts, as tends to be my wont.

Los Angeles, part 1

OK, this is gonna get a little fucked up, but I have this huge slew of beer tasting notes from LA, and I want to throw them away. Having decided that my blog is a self-indulgent place to keep track of this sort of shit, here goes:

With Kier in Berkeley, had a Dulle Teve. I wanted to bring this home, but it was leaking mysterious scunge around the cork and I was afraid it would explode. I love this beer. Spectacular mousse. Nose is coriander, rhododendron (according to Kier), flowery--jasmine? honeysuckle? The body is nutty (walnut?) and oddly mouth-coating. Gets maltier as it warms. Alcohol is 10%, by the way. Melony aroma. This is a crazy beer--key might be a large late hop addition and a crazy-hot fermentation.

Jeroboam of De Ranke Pere Noel, co-sponsored by Jeremiah:

Pale amber with a nice head--it exploded when uncapped and I think I had to suck on it. The nose is sourdough bread, earth, delicate acidity, golden raisins, thyme, coriander. The palate is full and malty, with nicely balanced hopping, and an earthy finish. My least favorite De Ranke beer, but still quite impressive.

That, plus the Berkeley beer tasting post, covers No. Cal.

In LA, chronologically, excluding things already posted:

Lagunitas Gnarleywine: Surprisinly mellow for 1096 and 9.7%. Stunning color (caramalt?). Smells like Centennial; nice caramelly palate; thick, clightly treacley finish. According to the label, "Beer speaks--People mumble." Oh, do I agree.

Fantome Pissenlit:

I adore this beer--it's an encouragement to brew fantastical Saisons. This is brewed partly with a tea made from dried dandelion flowers. This had had a good year in the bottle and it was just -un-real. 8%. Cloudy. Big, off-white head. Red, even slightly brown tinged (lots of Munich?). Massive, inextricably complex nose: Grassy, herbaceous, corky, spicy, citrus. Hallertau? Dry palate with some slight sourness, but also some definite, tightly articulared Munichy richness. Soft, sexy finish with some lemon rindy, pithy bitterness tying it together. Also some minerally elements.

Piraat ale:

Hadn't had in some time, but was just as I remembered: Big, hot, spicy, creamy, sourdough nose. Tasted a little like an immature, homebrewed Duvel. Key is 10.5% abv.

Bos Keun:

Been a while since I had this either. The head dies. Color is a cloudy, deep, orangey amber. The nose is really beautifuly and totally distinctive: orange blossoms, cider, honey, apples, little whiff of caramel. All in all, it's a sweet-accented nose, like an atypically good fruitcake. Also some tropical fruits, like mango or papaya. Rich, sweet, creamy palate (aromatic malt?). Nice bit of bitterness restores balance at the end.

Achel Brune: 8%. Deep, deep amber, toward brown. It's too cold, but already maltier than Westmalle Dubbel. I believe they use the Westmalle yeast, which shows. I've brewed with that yeast and this reminds me of my Dubbel. Nose is interesting but slightly subdued: a little spice, some rich maltiness, and a little bit of raisin/plum. Rich, malty palate. Some hops kick in, but not as tight finishing as Westmalle. As it warms, the plum/caramel/raisin thing dominates and it gets a little heavy.

Greene King Olde Suffolk:

This is made from keeping beer that they age in wood, mixed with a younger ale. It's a purplish, deep amber. Splendidly fruity, smelling of plum, raisin, toffee, sherry, iron, minerals, and oak. The palate is prickly, but low carbonated, lightly acidic, and oaky. It has a soft malt character, but also a lingering, pithy bitterness. Interesting beer.

Chimay Red:

Ubiquitous you say? But I hadn't had one in ages. It's got a light corky thing going on and a wonderful yeast bouqet: apples, slight lemon, flowery, citrusy hops (hallertau and tiny bit of cascade?); shifts toward prunes and pepper as it warms up. Caressingly smooth palate with even, delicately caramelly malt. Deep, riveting finish, but soft in the end. This is a pretty light beer, actually. Could be brewed with Belgian pale malt, light aromatic, and English caramalt, with a tiny dose of Special B or Caramunich. 1060-1065?, mabye 30 IBU's of Hallertauer or Tettnang?


Massive creamy malt--not really that complex, just huge, candied malt. Yummy though. Did I prefer the Noel?

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout:

Tar and cheese. Coffee--treacle--licorice--bitter chocolate. Huge, remarkably dry palate. Good, solid, bitter frame holds it together. I love this beer. What the hell is in this and how is it so balanced?

Firestone Double Barrel:

Delicately oaky, soft malt. Mild hopping, plus nice English-ale-yeast fruitiness. This is subtle and really quite delicious.

OK, I'm getting sick of typing. More later.

Moinette Brune (and how to brew it?)

Damn. This was a good pick. Bought this in LA, meant to drink it there, ran out of time, and smuggled it back to NY. A big, pillowy, off-white head settles atop a beer that is a nice, deep, ruddy amber--on the light side of brown. It's the least characteristic of the Dupont beers, seeing as how all the others are really pale. Aromatically, however, it fits the bill, hitting most of the notes that fit with their house yeast character: huge spicy herb thing (thyme, a little sage), cedar, cork, apple/pear fruitiness, and suggestions of the toasty malt that dominates the palate. It tastes of toasty, nutty malt with subtle hints of caramel and more subdued fruit. The finish balances malty sweetness with a lingering touch of hops--also picks up the wood-shop-ish element from the nose.

In keeping with my project to brew seasonal beers, I think something like this would make a kick-ass beer for autumn, that I could trot out for a Thanksgiving party and so on. I already made one for that purpose, but for future reference, I think around 12-14 SRM would be an appropriate color, emphasizing red-tinged malts. Alcohol is 8.5% with a relatively dry body. Hopping should be moderately high, probably Goldings. The malts should emphasize toastiness. A touch of aromatic malt would not be out of place, but not much. I'd use mostly Munich, Biscuit, and maybe Caravienne or a 1/4 lb of Special B, tops.

One other thing about Belgian beers. How awesome is their glue? The label of this just basically feel off as the bottle sweated. Add one more corkable bottle to the collection. Woo-hoo!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Empire State Brewing and Music Festival

Well that was fun. Me and Lisa and Buck and Sharon went to this. As best I can reconstruct it, I tried the following beers:

Middle Ages: Druid Fluid (OK barley wine), Dragon Slayer (excellent imperial stout)
Victory: Hop Devil (always good)
Flying Bison: Some pale ale dry hopped with Cascades
Southern Tier: Some sort of Porter
Blue Point: Toasted Lager (pretty nice)
Wolaver's: Organic brown. So-so.
Dogfish Head: Sixty-Minute and Aprihop. Wish they had brought something more unusual.
Abita: Turbo Dog
Allagash: Dubbel (quite nice)
North Coast: Pranqster
Young's Double Chocolate
Smithwick's Bitter
Rogue: Shakespeare Stout (I think...)
Ommegang: Rare Vos (better than I remembered)
Lake Placid: Frostbite (really nice, high hop level)
Smuttynose: Old Brown Dog (best domestic beer of the evening--their beers are SO balanced)
Stone: Arrogant Bastard
Long Trail: Double Bag (Bad name--good beer--kind of a strong Altbier)
Landmark: Some dull red beer.
Sackets Harbor: Some sort of dull amber.
Rohrbach: A truly wretched pale ale.
Great Adirondack: Scotch ale--little off
Weyerbacher: Hop Infusion (pretty nice)
Boulder: Hazed and Infused. Very nice, dry-hopped middle weight IPA. I liked it.
Great Divide Brewing Co: This was a real discovery. Their Titan IPA is a knock-out and I'll have to look into the others when and if they're readily available. Very impressive.
Also had some Belgians from the Belgian tent: Orval, Maredsous Dubbel (better than I remembered), and a couple others. Not sure. BUT, I did have a Rodenbach. Hurray. It's back. Talked to the importer who says everything's straightened out and it's coming in right now after like 4 or 5 years of nonavailability in the states. The guy got all excited and shook my hand when I asked about the Grand Cru. Apparently most people ask about Alexander, their weaker, fruitier, less sour beer. Bring on the Rodenbach Grand Cru then.

So, yeah, that was fun. Unfortunately we then hit the wine tent and this sent two of the four of us spiralling into oblivion. Yes, I was one. I feel better now. . .

Some cool guy who overheard me rambling about Belgians said I had to go here:

Brilbecks Corner Market Inc. - Syracuse New York200 Avery Avenue, Syracuse NY 13204

Supposed to be a little Mom and Pop store with the best Belgian beer selection for miles around.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Berliner Kindl-Weisse

By way of a random afternoon snack. . .

I stumbled across a bottle of Berliner Kindl-Weisse in Syracuse, which I hadn't had in some time. It's kind of a mystery to me why this is a beer style that's always described as near death. This is practically the only outfit that produces it. It's very pale, with a quickly dissipating head; the nose is flowery and sour, a little like a mixture of champagne and geuze. On the palate, it's sour, crisp, and immaculately dry, with a lightly puckery finish. I forgot how nice this beer was--it's entirely unique. Would be an interesting experiment to try and make a batch.

If I remember this, maybe next February, I could make some for summer, as it would be splendidly refreshing and a truly esoteric lawn-mower beer. Alcohol is 2.5%, starting gravity is 1030, grist is less than 30% wheat, and it has less than 10 IBU's of norther brewer (or hallertauer, following the other producer). It's boiled for only fifteen minutes and fermented with an ale strain plus Lactobacillus delbruckii. Other minor details are in Michael Jackson's Beer Companion, page 53 and environs. So that was an excellent impulse buy.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Wayward Beer

So that Saison wound up being several shades lighter than planned. I knew the projected color wasn't right, but just sort of went with the flow. Promash treats dark candi sugar as if it contributed color as powerfully as malt, which, logically, it just doesn't. But I adapted on the fly and this went from being a dark winter saison to a russet-amber autumn saison and I think it'll be good anyway. I upped the hopping to rebalance the beer, increased the last addition on the fly, and spiced carefully. It should be intriguing at any rate.

Was planning on going ahead with a Bavarian Weizen tomorrow, but the yeast packet is being quite recalcitrant. I may be screwed here, which might mean a totally superfluous trip to Syracuse, or a sizeable delay in making this beer. Damn UPS and their inexplicably delayed delivery. Shit. On the other hand, the Saison is bubbling. Hurray for Belgium; to hell with Germany.


So, yeah, the big mistake was forgetting to heat sparge water at all. I was like, "hey, it's time to sparge, how's about I . . . fucking hell." The sparge water is currently heating. Since it's hot, I'm having a Twiggy Pilsner, the infamous sulphury, then appley, then foot-y pilsner I brewed in mid-February. It's OK now. Not great, but OK. Decent head. Spectacular clarity if you don't pour the yeast. Almost too pale. Nose is Saaz-y with a little whiff of earthy spiciness. Palate is pretty clean. Malt character is unremarkable. Finish is a little loosely controlled but there's some good bitterness. It no longer smells like a foot, but there is a little something off somewhere--some rougher aromatic that reminds me vaguely of corn. My reference books seem to suggest that may be a little bit of unwanted dimethyl sulfide. This beer started horridly slow. I'm blaming that. So, yeah, it's not perfect, but it's refreshing in the summer and not too bad. May even get better if I sit on the last few six-packs. Is pilsner really worth the fucking trouble?

Darker Belgians

Hideous hot weather notwithstanding, I'm feeling like dark belgians are really compelling, and I'm trying to store some up for winter consumption and entertaining. One will be brewed tomorrow.

For inspiration, I'm re-trying my Dubbel, which I'm starting to think may be my best beer to date. It looks dusky and impenetrable for a bit, but then you hold it up to the light and it goes all deep, clear russet. No haze, not that it matters. Pretty good head. The nose is really layered: cherry fruit, hints of chocolate, a little coconut, spices, a suggestion of amaretto, raisins, etc. The palate is earthy but also very soft and beguiling--no excessive maltiness, no rough edges. Very subtle really.

So the next darker Belgian is going to be a Saison, inspired very vaguely by Fantome Black Ghost (which I had once two years ago) and Pizza Port's SPF 8 (which I've never had but have read about). That's about it for dark Saisons--it's a pretty large stylistic departure. . .

Mine's going to use the Saison Dupont yeast, from the cake under my Summer Saison. I'll bitter with Northern Brewer and flavor and aroma with Hallertauer. I'll then spice it, in a burst of exuberance and misplaced confidence with orange peel, grains of paradise, coriander, and fresh rosemary. Amount probably to be determined on the fly.

The grain bill is a little like the Dubbel I'm drinking, but with dark candi sugar, and a little more aromatic. I may, fearing excessive maltiness, take the aromatic down a little and throw in some biscuit for a complementary nuttiness. Eh, shit. I've been noodling with the recipe for several minutes and I'm not sure I know what I'm doing. I read the grain bill to Brian the other night and he thought it sounded pretty good, so perhaps I'm being over-wrought. It's a screwy beer to make, because I don't know what I want. It should be dark and malty and spicy, but also have a certain characteristic, spritely, je-ne-sais-quoi Saison thing. Maybe I should just trust the yeast and the higher hopping to do that. Fuck it. It's a bit of a rag-tag plan and I have a feeling a more experienced, confident brewer could do more with fewer ingredients, but . . . well . . . whatever. Will rattle on about how it goes tomorrow. Haven't brewed in six weeks so I'm sure I'll make a couple of large mistakes.