5 gallons, partial mash; levels may vary
Here is my recipe for a spiced dubbel, not patterned after any one commercial example but rather an amalgam of several but with a bit of a twist. It is moderately strong, medium dark, spicy from both the yeast and the flavorings added. I recommend aging it well, trying it several different times over the course of a couple of years. In effect you will probably find that you have brewed several different small batches in one, as the flavors really evolve over time.
- 4 lbs. Belgian pale malt
- 0.5 lb. Belgian Special B (or dark crystal malt, 90° to 120° Lovibond)
- 1 tsp. roasted barley
- 6 lbs. unhopped amber malt extract syrup
- 1 lb. amber candi sugar (or 2 cups brown sugar)
- 8 AAUs (see note) any English-type bittering hop (such as Brewer’s Gold) for 60 min.
- 1 gram ground black pepper
- 1 small (3 to 4 inch) cinnamon stick
- 1 gram grains of paradise
- 1 qt. or more Belgian abbey-type yeast slurry (see note)
- 2/3 cup corn sugar for priming
Step by Step:
Heat 2 gal. water to 165° F. Crush grains and mix in, striking a mash temperature of 153° F. Hold 75 min., begin run-off. Sparge with 3 gal. at 169° F.
Add malt extract and candi sugar to the runnings and bring to a boil. Add hops, then boil 60 min. Turn off heat and add pepper, cinnamon, and grains of paradise. Cool and transfer to your primary fermenter. Add enough cold, pre-boiled water to make up 5.25 gal. Chill to 68° F, pitch yeast, and seal.
Ferment as close to 65° F as you can manage. Rack to secondary after about two weeks, place in a cool dark place (55° F maximum) for six weeks. Prime with corn sugar and bottle. Age at least three months.
Hops: An alpha acid unit is the product of the hop’s alpha acid percentage multiplied by the ounces added. Divide 8 (AAUs for this recipe) by your hops’ percent alpha to figure the amount of the addition.
Grains: There’s just something about Belgian grains. Sure, go ahead and substitute British or American pale malt, but I wouldn’t! Special B is a highly caramelized crystal-type malt. Dark crystal isn’t quite the same. Be very careful of the roasted barley — it is not entirely typical or appropriate in a Belgian recipe, but I like what it adds here.
Sugars: Candi sugar is beet sugar, so its flavor profile is different from cane sugar. Brown sugar will work, but...
Spices: This is just one of many combinations possible. The idea is to strike a balance, find a contrast that stands out. It should be fairly sharp, pronounced, but not overwhelming. If you’ve never tried using grains of paradise, which is a relative of cardamom, you are in for a pleasant surprise! The pepper and grains of paradise are small enough to settle out with the rest of the trub, but you will probably want to fish out the cinnamon stick, or you can try to put the whole mix in a fine-mesh muslin bag.
Yeast: I’ve made similar recipes using several different yeast cultures. I like to use a recultured Unibroue (Quebec) Maudite slurry for this one, partly because it is the Maudite spiciness I am most trying to emulate here (although this isn’t even remotely close to their recipe, I’m certain), partly also because I have had very good luck reculturing it straight from the bottle. Use whichever appropriate strain you have on hand or can get.