Actually it should be a Quadrupel or a Belgian Dark Strong ale -- a "dubbel dubbel"; 2x2=4. It will be the second beer in a row with an ass name, but how can one resist referencing Shakespeare and Sir Mix-a-Lot at the same time? Yeah, me either. There was a day when I steered clear of any Belgian style beer. I think I had too many that were not well made, and were mainly high-gravity alcohol vehicles that gave me screaming ass headaches. That all changed the day I first tried St. Bernardus' ABT 12 and found myself lost in all that raisiny, pruny, sherry flavored dark fruit goodness. Now I love about anything from St. Bernardus (even though monks don't brew it).
The dark fruit flavors are what I am going for here, so I am choosing to go with the Candi Syrup rather than the nuggets as per the recommendations in this discussion thread. Here is the recipe I have come up with: make it) as well as other Belgian breweries. See a Promash page with all the specifics here.
The Fermentables: weight x potentail x efficiency = extract
15 lbs Pilsner Malt 15 x 36 x .80 = 432
2 lbs Munich Malt 2 x 35 x .80 = 56
.5 lb Caramunich .5 x 34 x .8 = 13.6
.5 lb Special B .5 x 30 x .8 = 12
1.5 lb Dark Candi Syrup 1 x 30 x .8 = 24
.5 lb Cane sugar 1 x 46 x .8 = 36.8
Total extract = 574.4 / 6 gallons (preboil) = Target Gravity (1.o96)
1 oz of EKG (5.6% AA) @ 90 minutes will yield 19.32 IBUs
.5 oz Challenger (7% AA) @ 30 minutes will yield 8.53 IBUs
Total IBUs = 27.85
White Labs Trappist Yeast (WL500)
30 minutes in -- This is the first batch I am making using Promash. I added 5.85 gallons of strike water at close to 170 degrees using Promash tto figure strike temperature. It is a little too warm at 30 minutes in (160 instead of the inteded 154). I threw in a couple of ice cubes. I will check again in fifteen minutes or so. I figure the Promash can help me dial in my system a little better in regards to temperatures and what not. I seem to only be losing ten degrees, but usually it is fifteen. The tun did prime with boiling water for quite a bit longer than usual today.
12.31.08 -- Fermentation has been very active in a tub of water with an aquarium heater and a water pump to maintain temperatures. The 25 watt heater seems to be struggling a little. It is set at around 73, but only can maintain about 69. I have a 50 watt heater on the way.
1.2.09 -- White Labs Trappist yeast (WL 500) is a complete animal. It ripped through this 1.098 wort in seven days, leaving it at 1.019. I am sure adding a 2 liter starter had something to do with this. It is still bubbling a little, but that is likely to be the suspended CO2 escaping. I will check the gravity agian in a couple days to see if I should put it into a secondary to settle out. The 50 watt heater came today, and I may not even need it until later. The temps have been pretty consistently between 68 and 7, with one morning after a very cold night that was at 66.
1.09.09 -- Racked into secondary today.
1.18.09 -- Bottled
2.14.09 -- Opened one and it is barely carbonated. I looked at my notes for "22", and found that was the same issue a month after bottling that beer. I will wait another month before trying another. Tastewise, it is pretty close to what I wanted from what I can tell. The dark fruit flavors are certainly there, and there is a very pronounced dry phenolic character. We will see how some dense Beligian carbonation will affect the flavor. I just pray it comes. See you in a month.
2.23.09 -- I got wise and moved all the bottles out of the laundry room to the kitchen and living room where it is five to ten degrees warmer.
3.3.09 -- A "square root day" that only happens a few times every century. . . Had the first Greymalkin that was adequately carbonated, but still has a little way to go in that department. This is going to be a most wonderful beer in a couple more weeks. The dark fruit notes seem to be mostly cherry at this point. I need to see what I hand to say about Chimay since this is their yeast. That review is very remeniscent of this beer.
4.30.09 -- Regardless of what I had to say about "decent carbonation" in the above entry, it turned out not to be entirely true. The next couple of bottles I opened were flat as hell. Dejected, I resolved to wait until it began getting warmer in the house before I tried another. That happened this past weekend, and the results were very encouraging. Though I do not think this beer will ever have a fluffy full head like those that enjoyed an addition of fresh yeast at bottling, there is now ample head and effervescecnce that lifts the flavors onto the pallate. In short, it drinks like a beer rather than a wine now, and the dark fruit and malt falvors are so much more pronounced and enjoyable than before.
11.08.09 -- I had about 20 bottles (12 and 24 oz) of this beer left, and the carbonation never got much better than an initial fizzle. I decided today to open each one, sprinkle in a bit of dry yeast, and then recap them. We'll see. I cannot think I have done anything that would have made the carbonation less. Several of the bottles showed some immediate reaction to the yeast, so I took that as a good sign.
1.1.10 -- Drank one while brewing. The carbonation is greatly improved, but the head still fades pretty fast. At least now when it fades there is still head until the bottom of the glass.
Tasting Greymalkin's Juicy Dubbel-Dubbel
Appearance -- Carbonation has always been an issue, and that does not bode well for appearance, especially for style. No carbonation - no head. As I look back at the recipe, I wonder why I did not add any wheat in there. The color is pretty ruby/brown, and the beer is not very clear.
Smell -- A clean, plum scent is the most prevalent. The yeast character does not come through aromatically, but I think it should. I think this is also an issue attributed to the poor carbonation.
Taste -- This is a great tasting beer with the dark fruit flavors I wanted with a ginger-like spicyness from the yeast. The alcohol notes are muted well by the sweetness, and then come through in the finish in a fashion that is not at all harsh. After agitating the beer in the glass, and then drinking while it was still active, a cotton candy hint rides along with the finish.
Mouthfeel -- This beer is a great example of how much carbonation affects the other aspects of beer. The mouthfeel is flat and almost watery at times. This is improved by agitation in the glass, or by swishing in the mouth. The sheer volume of the malt bill compensates a bit for the otherwise absence of mouthfeel (unless artificially produced).
Overall -- In light of everything above, I still consider this one of my better works. The flavors are exactly what I wanted, and this beer, in my opinion, has only one flaw, albeit one that has such an overall effect on the drinking experience. I have not failed to re-yeast strong beers or beers that conditioned for a long time. That is something I can take away from this -- that, and beer. I look forward to tasting this one at the five-year mark, and perhaps past then. I think this beer will have more a port or sherry character if allowed to age for a while, especially since this is a beer that could handle it.