Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My First Belgian Tripel

After going 5 months without brewing anything (not counting a quick cider and small batch of blueberry wine), I kicked off the new year in style with my first ever Belgian Tripel. Now, I've never been a huge Belgian beer fan - at least not those that smell and taste like cloves and bananas, which is what I always assumed non-sour Belgian beers taste and smell like. But I've always been intrigued by the monastic brewing tradition and have really wanted to like Belgian beers, especially the Trappist and Abbey style ales - there's just something about the history of the whole thing. Then, a few weeks ago, my wife tried a Chimay White (aka Cinq Cents) and she loved it. And then, I tried a homebrewed tripel and quite enjoyed it. Add to that that I've been itching to brew and to try something new, I decided now was as good a time as any to try my hand at this style. Even though I posted a couple weeks ago that my top priority was this year's altbier, I was more excited about brewing up my first Belgian tripel so it jumped to the front of the queue.

I did a little research, wanting to make something similar to Chimay's version. I read up on JZ's recipe in Brewing Classic Styles and Randy Mosher's in Radical Brewing. I found some info online from Brew Like a Monk (I don't own a copy). I googled all combinations of "tripel", "Chimay", "Cinq Cents", "recipe", and "clone". And I read through a great piece by John White and Roger Protz about their search for Chimay's recipes. In the end, I cobbled together the recipe given below. Part of me wanted to go all pilsner malt for the base, but I am unsure about my ability to boil off all the DMS/SMS, so I went with a mix of pilsner and pale malt. I added the wheat malt since it sounds like Chimay uses some sort of wheat in theirs. I used some Munich for a little extra malty character and used the Demerara sugar based on Randy Mosher's suggestion. And since Chimay was ultimately the inspiration for this brew, I used their yeast (WLP500).

The plan is to ferment it starting in the mid-60s°F and then slowly ramp up the temp to make sure the yeast fully ferment this out and leave it nice and dry. I'll bottle condition them for a few weeks and then lager them for a few more weeks.

Cervisia Benedicta - Belgian Tripel
brewed on 1/8/12

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 3.75 gal
Estimated Color: 5.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 32.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes
OG: 1.069
FG: 1.008
ABV: 8%

4 lbs Pilsner 43.8 %
2 lbs Pale Malt 21.9 %
1 lbs Munich I 11.0 %
1 lbs Wheat Malt 11.0 %
1 lbs Demerera Sugar 11.0 %
2.1 oz Acidulated 1.4 % (for mash pH)

28 g Styrian Goldings [4.50 %] (60 min) 24.6 IBUs
2 g Magnum [13.00 %] (60 min) 5.1 IBUs
14 g Saaz [4.00 %] (15 min) 2.9 IBUs

Trappist Ale (White Labs #WLP500)

Mash Schedule
Single Infusion, 148°F, batch sparge

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