Beer Style: Belgian Strong and Abbey Ales

Brewing Better Belgians

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  Belgian ales are complex and elegant. They’re my favorites to homebrew and drink. One issue I’ve had, however, is finding a Belgian beer that’s less than six months old in the

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Belgian Dubbel

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by the numbers OG:1.062–1.075 (15.2–18.2 °P) FG:1.008–1.018 (2.0–4.6 °P) SRM: 10–17 IBU:15–25 ABV:6–7.6% I fondly remember my very first trip to Belgium. I was already passionate about homebrewing and great beer, and

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Belgian Dark Strong Ale

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by the numbers OG:1.075–1.110 (18.2–25.9 °P) FG:1.010–1.024 (2.6–6.1 °P) SRM:12–22 IBU:20–35 ABV8–11% I used to hate judging the Belgian strong category in competitions. Long ago, so many of the beers were syrupy

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Cooking With Tripel

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The Trappist tripel ale is a beautiful beverage. My first experience with a tripel was back in 1993 when I had generally been consuming mostly what could be found in the grocery

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Brewing Belgian-Style Tripels

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Tripel is pale to golden in color, and strong (the BJCP guidelines list it as OG 1.075–1.085, and 7.5–9.5% ABV). However, three things keep it from seeming like a big beer — it’s

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Belgian Tripel

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OG = 1.065 to 1.095; FG = 1.013 to 1.020; IBU = 20 to 35; SRM = 3.5 to 6  Belgian tripel is a pale to deep gold beer with good clarity.

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Chimay Cinq Cents clone

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Deep copper to light brown, fruity and rich, there just isn’t a better beer in the world than this Belgian Trappist ale. This is essentially an all-grain recipe, although there are some sugar adjuncts for higher alcohol content. The yeast is essential. I carefully saved the dregs from an entire six-pack of the White Label and a 22-oz. bottle of the Cinq Cents (which Michael Jackson says are the same thing) and built up to a half-gallon starter. Golden syrup is an English sweetener (increasingly easy to find here; check your gourmet bakery shop if your homebrew supplier isn’t carrying it yet), which is essentially invert sugar.

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Dubbel Halo Ale

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Horst Dornbusch lays out a recipe with fermentation tips for those looking to brew up a Belgian Dubbel.

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Silent Tripel

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Horst Dornbusch provides a recipe for a Belgian Tripel.

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Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat’s Duvel clone

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Duvel is the classic Belgian golden ale. Although it is very strong (8.5% ABV), the beer is extremely light in color and dry in taste. The dense, white head that sits above the beer lasts until the beer is done. In the US, bottles of Duvel often show some oxidation in the aroma. Brewing it fresh at home gives you a glimpse of what it tastes like in Belgium. The yeast will not have an easy job here; they are dealing with a high-gravity, high-adjunct wort. Help them (and yourself) out by making a big yeast starter for a high cell count at pitching.

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Brasserie D’Orval’s Orval Trappist Ale clone

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Orval pours orange-brown with a big, rocky head. The very spritzy levels of carbonation and lightly sour with a distinctive Brett character make the beer feel prickly on the tongue. Orval beer is distinctly dry and has little hop bitterness or flavor, although it is the only Trappist ale to be dry hopped. You’ll really taste the pale malt base, so don’t use US, German or English malts for this.

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Belgian-Style Golden Strong Ale

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“This was my first Belgian Ale. I had no spare fridge space, so it was fermented at ambient temperatures, getting up to 86°F (30 °C) on day 2 and it was all over after 3 days. I didn’t really like the beer, but all who tried it thought it was great, and so did the judges!” – Michael Carter — Queensland


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