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Style of the Week: Belgian Dark Strong Ale!

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December 26, 2014 by fhsteinbart


Just possibly the finest beer in the world, this is the archetypical Abbot 12 beer.

Just possibly the finest beer in the world, this is the archetypical Abbot 12 beer.

One of the most popular beer styles in the world are the Trappist beers. Using monikers like Abbey, Abbot, or even numbers that relate to Belgian legal degrees or even cap color, they are all unique in the world of beers. This week we’re going to look at the Abbot style, as this was the beer that the leader of the monastery used for important guests as he entertained them in the Abbey. Made to a strong level of alcohol, and color, these beers are ones to be sipped and enjoyed by a cheery fireplace when the Winter temperatures need to have the chill taken out of your bones. Below is a recipe of mine that makes an attempt to replicate this world classic:

Extract version:

OG: 1.120 FG: 1.020

12 lbs. Extra-Light DME

1 lb. Belgian Cara-Munich

1 lb. Belgian Aromatic Malt

¾ lb. Belgian Biscuit Malt

0.5 lb. Belgian Special B Malt

0.25 lb. British Chocolate Malt

2 lbs. Beet Sugar @ Knockout

1 lb. Demerara Sugar @ Knockout

20 AAU Styrian Goldings or Willamette Hops @ 90 minutes

1 oz. German Hallertau Hersbrucker or Liberty Hops @ 20 minutes

1 oz. Styrian Goldings or Willamette Hops @ 20 minutes

½ Tbsp. Irish Moss or Whirlfloc Tablet @ 15 minutes

1 oz. German Hallertau Hersbrucker or Liberty Hops @ 7 minutes

1 oz. Styrian Goldings or Willamette Hops @ 7 minutes

¾ gm. Calcium Chloride Salts per gallon (~3.75 gms. or 1 level tsp.) in boil

Wyeast 3522, WLP545, or Fermentis Abbaye Dry Ale Yeast (make a BIG starter, or use 4 packages liquid yeast, or 2 packages dry yeast)

Procedure:

  • Heat 2-5 gallons of water to 165°F.
  • Add steeping grains to kettle and steep for 30 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and add malt extract, stirring until fully dissolved.
  • Return to Heat, bring to boil for 5 min. then add bittering hops.
  • At 20 minutes remaining, add the flavor hops.
  • At 15 minutes remaining, add the Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss.
  • At 7 minutes remaining, add the aroma hops.
  • At knockout (0 minutes), turn off the heat, cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or use a wort chiller. Add the mixture to the fermenter, removing the hops, and bring total volume to 5 gallons using distilled, bottled, or filtered tap water.
  • Aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well).
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 68°F to 72°F for 3 days, then raise to 80°F until finished.
  • Allow to age an additional three to four weeks before packaging up as usual.

All Grain version:

OG: 1.120 FG: 1.020

16¾ lbs. Gambrinus Pilsner Malt

1 lbs. Belgian Cara-Munich

1 lb. Belgian Aromatic Malt

¾ lb. Belgian Biscuit Malt

0.5 lb. Belgian Special B Malt

0.25 lb. British Chocolate Malt

2 lbs. Beet Sugar @ Knockout

1 lb. Macanudo Sugar @ Knockout

20 AAU Styrian Goldings or Willamette Hops @ 90 minutes

1 oz. German Hallertau Hersbrucker or Liberty Hops @ 20 minutes

1 oz. Styrian Goldings or Willamette Hops @ 20 minutes

½ Tbsp. Irish Moss or Whirlfloc Tablet @ 15 minutes

1 oz. German Hallertau Hersbrucker or Liberty Hops @ 7 minutes

1 oz. Styrian Goldings or Willamette Hops @ 7 minutes

¾ gm. Calcium Chloride Salts per gallon (~3.75 gms. or 1 level tsp.) in boil

Wyeast 3522, WLP545, or Fermentis Abbaye Dry Ale Yeast (make a BIG starter, or use 4 packages liquid yeast, or 2 packages dry yeast)

¾ gm. Calcium Chloride Salts per gallon (~3.75 gms. or 1 level tsp.) in both mash and boil

Procedure:

  • Infusion mash at 150°F for 90 min with the Brewing Salts.
  • Sparge until 6~6½ gal wort has been obtained.
  • Add the rest of the salts after the boil commences.
  • Boil for 1 to 1½ hours total time.
  • Add the bittering hops after 15 minutes boiling and continue to boil for 60 more minutes.
  • Add the flavor hops at 20 minutes remaining to the boil.
  • Add Whirlfloc or Irish Moss at last 15 minutes.
  • Add the aroma hops at 7 minutes remaining to the boil.
  • Gravity may vary depending on system efficiency, so adjust accordingly.

Package up as usual; bottled versions should use 120 gms. corn sugar (approx. 1 cup), or kegged to 20 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 60~65°F in a Chalice glass, share and enjoy! This beer will continue to evolve and change over the coming months, so make enough to last you through your next brew.

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