First Tasting: Belgian Dubbel (Beer #25)

December 12, 2011 by Jack

Five weeks ago I brewed the Black Scapular Dubbel recipe from Brewing Classic Styles. This was my attempt at re-brewing the recipe that Jess brewed earlier this year. The first attempt didn’t come out great so I wanted to have a crack at getting it right. This one is definitely better. We’ll see what the judges think in some upcoming compeitions. But for now, here are my notes on this young beer:

Deep candy red in color, thinning to a caramel-brown at the edges. Pillow off-white head that falls after a couple of minutes. Hazy, but becoming more clear each day.

Caramel, toasty malt. Belgian fruity esters – hints of fig, plum, dried fruits. A touch of cherry. Maybe a bit of bubblegum. Touch of perfumy, spicy phenol. No hop aroma.

Toasty, sweet caramel malt gives way to dried fruits, figs, plums, touch of raisin and a clove-like spice. Higher alcohols lend some warmth. Complex. Finishes dry. Surprisingly dry given the sweet attack. There is a touch of bitterness, but it’s well-dominated by the malt.

Full, creamy body. Somewhat under-carbonated*. Smooth. Warming alcohol on the finish, but not hot or solventy. Very slight grain husk astringency on the finish that brings a perception of dryness.

Overall Impression
A good dubbel. Still a little rough around the edges and green tasting, but given its age it’s coming along very well. I am happy with it.

At this point I don’t fully trust my palate or my ability to discern if a beer is really good or not. I’m looking forward to getting judges’ notes from competitions on this beer to help guide me in future brews. Belgian beers can be hard to get a good read on because they’re very complex and even the commercial examples vary widely.

*It’s at 2.5 volumes right now. It should be at about 3.5-4, but I don’t have a dual-regulator for my CO2 source and I don’t want to over-carb my other beers to get the Belgian beer carbed correctly.

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