My beer tastes seem to keep changing as I age. I started off as a huge IPA nut. I still like IPA’s to this day, so that is a plus. Then, for some reason, I really developed a palate for stouts. I couldn’t get enough stouts. Dry stouts. Milk stouts. Imperial stouts. If it was dark and a stout (or even porter – kind of the same thing from a history and brewing standpoint), I was in. Recently, my taste buds shifted again, and I’m drawn towards Belgian Style ales. Of particular interest to me are the Trappist ales.
These beers have an interesting history, and even more interesting qualifiers. You can only call it a Trappist ale if:
- The beer is brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery by monks or under monks supervision
- The brewery can’t be the primary purpose for the monastery – it should be witness to practices of a monastic way of life.
- The brewery is not a profit making venture. The proceeds maintain the monastery and life of the inhabitants, and the rest is donated.
That makes these beers kind of special. Since I’m 0 for 3 on the requirements, I’ll need to call my beer a Trappist “style.”
I sent my wife on a wild goose chase to track down a bottle (or 6-pack) of Westvleteren Trappist 12 for my birthday. This is a rare beer, and your best bet is to buy direct. Looks like a 6-pack and tasting glasses are available for $149 right now on the Westvleteren site.
I’ve never brewed this type of beer before, so instead of trying to write my own recipe and muck it up, I’m going to follow a recipe from my favorite homebrew magazine BYO.
The Recipe (all grain): (credit to BYO in its Volume 24, #2 (March/April 2018).
- 10 lbs Belgian pilsner malt
- 3 lbs Dingeman’s pale malt
- Update – had to sub Chateau (beer store didn’t have Dingeman’s)
- 7 oz Belgian caramel Munich malt
- 1 lb Belgian candi syrup d-90
- 1 oz Hallertauer hops @ 60 min
- Update – Ended up going 1.25 oz since the Hallertauer hops the beer store had were a different alpha acid profile (the very knowledgeable person helped make the conversion)
- 0.5 oz Hallertauer hops @ 20 min
- Safbrew BE-256 yeast – and I’ll make a starter the day before
- Update – ended up not doing a starter, and just rehydrating. It’s worth doing some reading on doing starters for liquid yeast and just rehydrating for dry yeast.
Brew notes (I’m not going to regurgitate all of the steps – just the ones that are interesting):
- 90 minute boil
- The extended boil time plus the high 90’s temp ended up killing my boil pot yield. I only have about 4.25 gallons on the fermenter now.
- Multi-step mash
- This ended up being tricker than I expected. The hot temps outside never allowed the first 30 minutes of mashing to drop more than a degree or two from the strike water. I did mash out at 170 (F), so that was okay.
- Add D-90 as fermentation slows down
- 5 gallons
- OG – 1.070, FG – 1.012
- IBU – 20, ABV – 7.5%
I’ll keg this bad boy (since I’ve got a double tap kegerator now). I’m hoping this goes well as its my first. Seems simple enough – I’ve never done a multi-step mash before, but the process is straightforward.
I’ll buy a majority of my ingredients at my local homebrew store (Bacchus & Barleycorn). This was my first time visiting B&B, and I enjoyed it. Very knowledgeable staff. I will go back there. I bought my yeast and D-90 on Amazon since I didn’t want to leave it to chance that B&B would have this stuff.
Brew day notes:
- Date: 6/17/18 – Father’s Day. Happy father’s day to me. Nothing better than brewing a beer. This will be my son’s first ever brew day.
- Weather: HOT, HOT, HOT. Temps pushed the upper 90’s (F). Clear though. Slight wind which kicked my burner a couple times.
- Total time (including cleaning): 6 hours (note – I had some pre-cleaning to do in the garage since there was drywall dust on my stuff)
- Brew day beer of choice:
- Requiem for a Pancake (Boulevard)
- Nitro Chocolate Orange Stout (Breckenridge) – overall not impressed with this beer
- Founders All-Day IPA – one of my favorite session IPA’s
- Brew day music of choice: 80’s Rock Station on Amazon Unlimited
- Actual OG: 1.04
- This is a big bummer. I missed the mark big time. In going back through my notes, I sparged WAY TOO FAST. This probably killed my efficiency. I’d like to blame it on the environment or the equipment, but it was good old fashioned brewer error. Next beer will sparge for a MINIMUM of 45 minutes. Slow and steady wins the race.
- The ABV will be a big miss, but hoping the taste of the beer is still decent. We’ll see.
- Final OG: 1.01
- Final ABV: 3.96%
- What went well:
- Equipment performed well.
- No boil overs.
- What went bad:
- Sparged too quickly and killed my efficiency.
- Garden hose water used to cool beer through heat exchanger was too warm (ended up wrapping fermenter in ice packs to get beer down to pitching temp.
- Let initial strike water get too hot. Spent about 20 minutes adding ice to get down to 154 (F).
- Hardware notes:
- Need to upgrade to quick release fittings
- Need to use ice water for heat exchanger when temps are high
- Need to make another gradient marking stick to measure gallons in my boil kettle
- Need to install a water shutoff on the end of the hose that connects my water supply to my water filter
- Might switch back to carboy or food grade bucket for fermenting. The Fastferment plastic conical is becoming a pain in the butt – it leaks a little too much for my liking no matter how much plumbers tape I use on the fittings.
Have you ever brewed this style beer before? Please let us know about your brewing experiences. If you enjoyed this post, please like and share. Thanks!