The following Belgian Dubbel Recipe will result in a traditional version of this classic beer style known for its rich, malty flavors and complex fermentation characteristics. As a medium-strength amber/brown ale, it offers a delightful blend of dark fruit, burnt sugar, citrus esters, clove, and even a touch of banana. With a surprisingly dry finish, this beer style is perfect for those who appreciate deep and layered flavors in their brews.
When brewing a Belgian Dubbel, it’s important to pay special attention to the malt profile and choice of yeast. The malt is the backbone of a great Dubbel, offering a medley of flavors that harmonize together for a truly memorable drink. Healthy Belgian yeast is essential for achieving the right mix of phenolic spiciness and fruity esters. The Westmalle strain (Wyeast 3787 or White Labs 530) is an excellent choice, producing aromas of plum, stone fruit, and spice.
Remember that hop aroma and flavor will be low to absent when brewing this Belgian Dubbel Recipe. To achieve the style’s medium bitterness and slightly dry finish, you can use any continental hop with a single bittering hop addition. This way, you’ll create a delicious, complex beer that truly captures the essence of the Belgian Dubbel.
History of Belgian Dubbel
Belgian Dubbel, a rich and malty beer with a mild hop bitterness, has a long and storied history. This beer style traces its origins back to the Middle Ages, when monks in monasteries brewed beer not only for sustenance but also as a means of supporting the abbey financially. Since then, the tradition of brewing this beer has continued, with the Belgian Dubbel recipe itself evolving over the centuries.
In the mid-19th century, the modern version of the Belgian Dubbel began to take shape at the Westmalle Abbey, located near Antwerp. In 1856, the monks at the abbey brewed a strong dark beer, which became the foundation for the contemporary Belgian Dubbel. This beer, which was a stronger variation of a brown ale, quickly gained popularity, and by 1861, it was available for sale to the public.
The key characteristics of Belgian Dubbel that evolved over time include its dark brown color and the presence of a complex, dark fruit flavor profile. These flavors, often reminiscent of raisins, prunes, and dates, are achieved through the use of dark malts and a distinctive yeast strain. Additionally, the beer’s mild hop bitterness serves as a complement to its rich, malty backbone.
Belgian Dubbel Recipe
This Belgian Dubbel recipe yields around 5 gallons of beer.
– 6 lbs Pilsner Liquid Malt Extract
– 2.75 lbs Belgian Pilsen
– 0.5 lbs Special B
– 0.5 lbs Biscuit Malt
– 1.5 oz Mt Hood hops (60 minutes)
– 1 lb Dark Brown Sugar (15 minutes)
– 0.5 oz Mt Hood hops (10 minutes)
– Belgian Abbey Yeast (Wy 1214/1388/3787 or WLP 500/530/550)
1) Begin by heating water to 154°F. Mash the grains (Belgian Pilsen, Special B, and Biscuit Malt) at this temperature for 60 minutes.
2) Once the mashing is complete, sparge the grains to extract all the sugars. Bring the liquid to a boil.
3) While boiling, add 1.5 oz Mt Hood hops and let them boil for 60 minutes for bitterness.
4) After 45 minutes of boiling, add 1 lb of dark brown sugar to the pot, stirring well to dissolve.
5) With 10 minutes remaining in the boil, add the remaining 0.5 oz of Mt Hood hops for aroma and flavor.
6) After the full 60-minute boil is complete, cool the wort as quickly as possible using an immersion chiller, ice bath, or other methods.
7) Transfer the cooled wort to a sanitized fermentation vessel. Aerate the wort by vigorously shaking it, ensuring enough oxygen for the yeast to work properly.
8) Pitch the Belgian Abbey Yeast into the fermentation vessel, following manufacturer’s instructions for proper yeast handling.
9) Ferment the wort at the recommended temperature for your chosen yeast strain (usually between 65-75°F) for around 2-3 weeks, or until the fermentation activity subsides.
10) Once fermentation is complete, transfer the beer to a bottling bucket or keg and carbonate. Allow the Belgian Dubbel to age for a few weeks to develop its complex flavors before enjoying.
Ingredients to Make Your Own Belgian Dubbel Recipe
For the malt base, you can start with a mix of Maris Otter and Belgian Pils malt. To add complexity and depth to your dubbel, include a pound (454 g) each of 10L Munich, Malted Red Wheat, and Victory malt. Additionally, add a half pound (227 g) each of Special B and Carapils. As a final touch, incorporate 1-2 ounces (28-57 g) of Black Patent malt. Feel free to experiment with these proportions to find your preferred balance of flavors.
When it comes to hops, there are several options to suit your taste preferences. Commonly used hops in Belgian dubbels include Styrian, Hallertau, and Magnum. To keep the bitterness on the lower side, aim for a hopping schedule that favors flavor and aroma additions. For example, use 1.5 oz of Mt. Hood hops for a 60-minute boil, followed by 0.5 oz of Mt. Hood hops with 10 minutes remaining. Another popular and traditional choice is Saaz hops, providing a gentle bitterness and subtle spicy aroma.
Yeast plays a pivotal role in shaping the flavors of a Belgian dubbel. Choose a yeast strain that enhances the fruity and spicy notes associated with Belgian beers. Some excellent options include Wyeast’s Belgian Abbey (WY1214) or White Labs’ Abbey Ale Yeast (WLP530). These strains promote the desired esters and phenols that contribute to the complexity of your final product.
Incorporating Candi syrup can help boost the alcohol content and add color to your Belgian dubbel. Consider adding about 1 pound of dark, D-90 Candi syrup to your recipe, which will contribute rich caramel, toffee, and dark fruit notes. Alternatively, you can use dark brown sugar for a similar effect by adding 1 pound of it during the last 15 minutes of the boil.
Water is the primary ingredient in any beer recipe and plays a crucial role in directing the final flavor profile. Start with clean, filtered water and consider adding small amounts of brewing salts, such as calcium chloride and gypsum, to fine-tune the water chemistry. Proper water adjustments can enhance the overall taste and mouthfeel of your Belgian dubbel.
As you experiment with these ingredients and their proportions, remember to keep track of the adjustments you make. This way, you can continue refining your recipe until you’ve crafted the perfect Belgian dubbel tailored to your personal preferences. Happy brewing!
Color and Appearance
Belgian Dubbel has a deep, reddish-copper color, giving it an attractive appearance in the glass. When brewed correctly, it should be clear, with no haze.
When you take a whiff of a Belgian Dubbel, you’ll notice a complex aroma that includes rich, malty notes along with dark or dried fruit esters. Some examples of fruit esters you may detect are plum and stone fruit, along with a hint of spice due to the Belgian yeast.
The flavor of a Belgian Dubbel is a delightful balance of complexity and simplicity. Your palate will be met with rich malty flavors, dark or dried fruit esters, and a light alcohol warmth. It also typically has a medium-low bitterness that doesn’t linger in the aftertaste. While a low spicy, floral, or herbal hop flavor might be present, it is not always the case.
Finally, the mouthfeel of a Belgian Dubbel is an important aspect to consider. Expect a medium-full bodied beer that finishes fairly dry. This rounded mouthfeel complements the other features, enhancing the overall enjoyment of this classic beer style.
Belgian Dubbel Recipe FAQs
What are the key ingredients in a Belgian Dubbel?
A Belgian Dubbel typically has a malt-forward profile, with complex flavors coming from the grains, yeast, and dark candi sugar. The base malt often includes an even mix of Maris Otter and floor-malted pilsner, which provides a bready, grainy, and biscuity foundation. Yeast plays a significant role, too, contributing fruity esters, phenolic spiciness, and a touch of banana. Low hop aroma can be present, with herbal or floral hints.
What is the ideal fermentation time for a Belgian Dubbel?
The fermentation time for a Belgian Dubbel can vary depending on factors such as yeast strain, temperature, and desired flavor profile. Generally, initial fermentation takes about 7 to 14 days, followed by secondary fermentation and conditioning for another 2 to 4 weeks. This allows the complex flavors and yeast character to develop fully while helping the beer to clear.
Which yeast strain is best for brewing a Belgian Dubbel?
The Westmalle yeast strain (Wyeast 3787 or White Labs 530) is an excellent choice for brewing a Belgian Dubbel, as it produces desirable aromas of plum, stone fruit, and spice. Ensure that the yeast is healthy and active to achieve the right balance of phenolic spiciness and fruity esters characteristic of a great Belgian Dubbel recipe.
What are the differences between a Dubbel and a Tripel?
The main differences between a Belgian Dubbel recipe and a Belgian Tripel recipe are the color, strength, and malt character. A Dubbel is an amber to brown beer with an ABV range of 6-8%, featuring rich maltiness and dark fruit flavors. A Tripel, on the other hand, is a pale to golden beer with a higher ABV of 7.5-9%, showcasing a lighter malt character and an emphasis on spicy and fruity flavors from the yeast. Both styles share a dry finish and moderate to high carbonation.
At what temperature should the mash be for a Belgian Dubbel?
For a Belgian Dubbel, aim for a mash temperature of around 150-152°F (65-67°C). This range promotes moderate conversion of starch to fermentable sugars, resulting in a balance between malt sweetness and attenuation (i.e., how dry the finish will be). It also preserves the complexity and body of the beer without making it overly sweet or heavy.
How does the brewing process differ between Belgian Dubbel and Quad?
While both Belgian Dubbels and Quads share similarities in fermentables and yeast, the main difference lies in their strength and flavor intensity. Quads have a higher ABV, typically ranging from 9-14%, and present a more robust malt character, often showcasing flavors of dried fruits, caramel, and dark sugars. The brewing process for a Quad involves using more malt and additional dark candi sugar to achieve a higher gravity, resulting in a stronger and more complex beer than a Dubbel. Otherwise, the brewing techniques for both styles are relatively similar.
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