I can smell it when I open the door every morning to walk to my car through the garden – autumn has arrived. The smells that come with it are the best smells in nature – a wet humus smell that greets me every morning to remind me that the long summer days are over and that winter is coming. And that means that it is time for ‘hygge’ and brewing some dark beer to get us through the winter days. Therefore I decided this year to try a Belgian Dubbel recipe. After having tried a Belgian Blond for summer, this is the logical next step in my Belgian home brewing adventure.
As I never tried a dark beer before, I searched some inspiration on http://www.beercalc.org for getting some ideas on which malt types to put in. I agreed with myself that the malt bill should be a bit complex to get a good sweet, caramel with chocolate impression in the final beer. So this is what I have put in: two types of pilsner malt as the backbone of course, Munich malt, biscuit malt, Cara belge and a little bit of chocolate malt. After maishing in, the color was clearly dark and the smell already amazingly christmassy.
I measured pH at the start of maishing in and because the darker malts automatically drop the pH, I did not have to adjust pH. The pH was around 5.4, so perfect for maishing in.
For the hops, I was pretty excited as it was the first time I used hops from my garden. The variety that I harvested a week earlier was Styrian Golding. I air dried the hops in my brewery until they were ready to use.
Styrian Golding hops are grown in Styria, Austria and Slovenia. The variety is close to Fuggle hops and carries similar attributes. Styrian Golding is a aroma variety with low alpha acid content (typically between 4.5-6%). The aroma character is spicy and flowery with excellent bitterness.
My garden gave me 30 gram of the Styrian Golding hops:
After brewing, I cooled down the wort and the next day it was ready for fermentation. I had 40 liter of brew, as this time I also sparged 4 liter of water over the spent grains to get all sugar out. I also added 1 kg of sugar to the boil to get the beer a dry finish.
For the yeast, I used two different ones again: WLP570, my favorite by now for Belgian style brews and WLP500 to test it out. The last one is called Monastery Ale Yeast, and should be good for a Belgian Dubbel as well. I again aerated both buckets to be sure the yeast would get a good start. I made yeast starters and after 1 day, the added WLP570 kickstarted. The WLP500 needed 12h more before it also started fermenting.
Now it is waiting until the fermentationis is finished before I can bottle these two – hopefully delicious – brews.
To be continued…