Sunday, 2 February 2014

Tasting : Tommy (Belgian Dubbel)

When you get in the routine of brewing a lot of hoppy beers, it's easy to forget that not all beer styles are best consumed within a week or two of packaging. Luckily, with this Belgian Dubbel that I brewed in early November, I didn't race through all of the bottles immediately after they were sufficiently carbonated. I DID have one here and there (and gave some away) to see how the flavors were developing; I think, at first, I wasn't too impressed with the beer, but now that it's had a couple of months to age a bit, I'm definitely liking it more.

This Dubbel came out much better than my first attempt a few years ago. The beer has more complex maltiness and a light chocolate character to it... whether this is a direct result of the recipe changes or the change in yeast strain, I'm not sure. I'm leaning towards both, actually - while the grist is more-complicated than I generally like to brew, the different malts, dark candi syrup, and higher mash temp definitely helped the beer in the end. And a yeast that emulates Chimay can't be bad; Chimay Red is a fantastic Belgian Dubbel (this is often missed, maybe because the beer is so readily available, at least for a Trappist beer).

Not too many changes I'd make, here. I'd definitely carbonate the beer a little more (2.75 vol is a touch low for a Dubbel, but with the slightly-higher FG I didn't want to take any chances), to at least 3 vol CO2. Next time, I'd probably give the Wyeast 3787 (Westmalle brewery) strain a try. I love Belgian Dubbels and Tripels (and really have to start brewing them more often), but I've got to give the wide variety of Belgian yeasts a complete try before I can settle on which I prefer as my "house Belgian strain".

On a side note, some people at a local beer bar tried this beer with two other commercially-available Dubbels, Maredsous Brune and Floreffe Dubbel. Surprisingly to me, they preferred the beer I brewed to the other two.

Appearance: Poured with a moderate-large light-tan head, doesn’t exhibit great retention. Fades to 1/4-finger after a few minutes. Body is a dark brown color and shows some haziness.

Aroma: Rich, bready malt, with a little bit of milk chocolate in behind. Some spicy phenols. Trying to detect dark fruit; maybe a touch there, but not a lot, for sure. No hop aroma.

Taste: Malty and slightly sweet, bit of chocolate and spiciness in there to balance. Low bitterness, with a slightly dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-low bodied, moderate-high carbonation.

Overall: Quite tasty... giving it a couple of months has helped smooth the flavors out a bit. Easy-drinking; no sign of any alcohol warming at all. I'd like to see some more dark fruit flavors and aromas, but otherwise it's a very good Dubbel.

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