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, April 13, 2006

More Westvleteren planning

I allowed myself to be severely gouged and purchased a bottle of Westvleteren 8 in CA. The 12 is practically impossible to buy, though I have one bottle in my cellar that I got a year or so ago. What with it being declared "greatest beer in the Milky Way" or whatever by some damned magazine, it's even more asininely difficult to obtain than it used to be. And, as a friend of mine has pointed out, now that it's this super-exclusive product, most of it is probably being drunk out of frosted mugs by filthy-rich yuppies who don't know what the hell they're doing. Son of a bitch...

Anyway, the 8 is marvelous in its own right. I am about to order some of this new candi sugar syrup and the question is how much to incorporate into an otherwise fairly straightforward recipe. The nose is relatively subtle, with a rummy complexity. The palate is soft, pretty vigorously carbonated. It's very drinkable really. Beautiful spiciness in the nose--gingerbread? bit of licorice? Delicate, subtle fruitiness--sort of like over-ripe honey-dew. Some of the rummy aromatics swing just toward chocolate as it warms up--not a roastiness at all, but like the dark, winey, fruity quality that a very high cacao chocolate has.

Referring to Brew Like a Monk, I'd be looking at the following picture. OG 1072. 88% AA. FG 1008. 35 IBU. 8.3% ABV. 72 EBC for color, which seems totally wrong. I'm not going to sweat the color too much. To me, it's a kind of burnt umber color, that flares red held up the light, not unlike Westmalle Dubbel, which looks dark and then is not remotely opaque. Should be fermented upstairs, pitching at 68. That'll be exciting. Malts are pale and pils--I'll probably start with 50/50. Hops are Northern Brewer (for bittering, I assume), with Hallertau and Styrian Golding adding fairly negligible flavor--I'm thinking no aroma addition at all.

The question is the proportion of regular sugar for fermentability and caramelized sugar syrup for flavor, aroma, fermentability, etc. If all else fails, we'll start with 50/50 by weight. The idea of doing the 8 is that I can then attempt something in the 12 area. Hopefully a sample of the first attempt can help target the right proportions. We'll see.

Note upon further web browsing: White beer travels page has the grist as mostly pilsner with some pale. Also only a "small amount of caramel" in the dark beers.

And one other note: my Autumn Saison, which I hadn't had in a while, is really, really good. Very complex. Hides its alcohol. Hell, I brewed it and I was fairly stunned to learn that it was 9.2% (1075 down to 1004-5). Spectacular attenuation, nice texture, chameleon-ish aromatics. I like it.


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