Purpose: Create an Belgian dubbel (26b) recipe
Recommendation: No late hop additions.
Results: *** Waiting for results ***
Belgian dubbels have a reddish brown color that comes from a malt bill that emphasizes darker malts. Subtle roast qualities are okay but should not be intense. Special B is a dark crystal malt that is known for raisin, plum, and dark caramel qualities. Special B has a strong character, so don't use too much. Caramunich and caravienne are commonly used for malty and aromatic qualities. The base malt is usually pilsener malt.
Noted homebrewer Jamil Zainasheff offers this recommendation: "The trick is to build a rich malty character with a balanced malt sweetness, while avoiding an overall muddy, generic maltiness." He also recommends keeping the specialty malts below 20% of the malt bill.
Sugars are sometimes used in higher gravity Belgian beers to lower the final gravity of the beer. Darker candi sugars can also provide a caramel quality similar to dark crystal malts.
Some grain bill ideas (percentage by gravity points, rounded):
Zainasheff (2014): 7% dark candi syrup (90L), 8% caramunich, Pilsener base malt
Dubbel'em Up from Brewmaster's Bible, p. 232: 13% Belgian candi sugar, 6% caramunich, 4% Special B, Pilsener base malt
Rare Vos clone from beersmithrecipes.com: 7% caravienne, 5% Special B, Pilsener base malt
Stand Up Dubbel from Secrets from the Master Brewers, p. 167: 5% Special B, 5% biscuit, American two-row base malt
Belgian dubbels use noble European hops. Styrian goldings is a commonly used Belgian hop. Zainasheff's recipes use Tettnanger. Other hops from the noble European hop family, such as Hallertau and Saaz, should also be suitable.
Unlike traditional dubbels, some commercial examples have subtle spices such as bitter orange peel, grains of paradise, and/or coriander seeds. Use small amounts (.5 oz or less) of these spices, if desired, at the end of the boil.
A Belgian ale yeast is essential for achieving a spicy character and good attenuation. The best yeast choices are "Trappist" or "Abbey" strains that originated in the monasteries of Belgium. Zainasheff and Palmer recommend pitching the yeast at 64F (18C) and allowing the temperature to rise. Some Belgian yeast strains can produce vigorous fermentations, so it might be a good idea to use a blow-off tube.
A challenge for brewing this style is to avoid a high final gravity makes the beer excessively sweet. A dry finish can be accomplished several ways, such as low mash temperatures, using sugar for part of the fermentables, and using yeast strains that attenuate well.
Klemp, K.F. (2014). The near-perfect Belgian dubbel.
Zainasheff, J. (2014, December). Belgian dubbel: Exhibiting a rich, complex malt character. BYO, 30 - 34.
Zainasheff, J., & Palmer, J.J. (2007). Brewing Classic Styles, Brewer's Publications, p. 236-238.
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