Tripel Your Pleasure

I’ve been homebrewing for several years including a few years in the middle when I was on some kind of hiatus…but now that I have started upo again in this summer/fall I have been wanting to  try a few styles that are somewhat more adventurous for me.

Historically Ive done a lot of Hefeweizens, Pales, IPAs and a few Stouts and Porters.  A few years ago when hops got real expensive, that was party what got me out of it since most of what I made required quite a bit of them.  When I spec’d out an IPA recipe that was going to cost me as much for hops as it did for malt and yeast, my enthusiasm waned a bit.

Now, hops aren’t that much cheaper but I have gotten interested in a few other styles that are not hoppy, or also quite low gravity. The Berliner-Weisse I made last month, probably the least expensive 5G batch I’ve ever done, the Belgian that I am working on currently has a pretty big grain bill but hardly any spendy hops, and even the Dopplebock I did last month was kind of the same way.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good IPA, and I may get around to one of those before long, but these times have forced me into looking at styles that before now seemed a bit too risky or complicated.

This next one will be a Belgian Tripel.  A lot of advice I found online stressed a very simple grain bill.  Pilsener mostly, and  little Munich and Cara-Vienne for color, character and body.  This will be the first time I’ve used sugar, and I’ll go with the traditional Belgian Candy sugar.  That will make up about %10 of the fermentation.

It took me a long time to come around to Belgian beers in general, which might seem a bit strange since that seems to be where most beer nerds go eventually.  Either that or they become hop-heads.  I am more the later but my appreciation for the beers of the lowlands has gained some traction lately.  Maybe it was the Operation Market Garden episode of Band of Brothers that I recently re-watched that did it…   OK, fine, that was the Netherlands technically but Antwerp is only about 70 miles from Eindhoven.

14# Pilsener and a pound each of Light Munich, Cara-Vienne, and Wheat plus 2# of light candi sugar I’ll add to the boil.  Miscalculated my strike temp and had to add more hot water to the mash trying to get up to 150F.   A 1 qt starter of WLP500 which supposedly is the same strain that is used at Chimay for their Grand Reserve (Blue)  Of the Belgian strains, this one has a little more of that fruity ester notes and less of the spicy peppery character.

I pitched the starter at ab 72F and let it do it’s thing and figured it would free-rise a few more degrees.  Which it did.  At full roiling activity it was at about 74.  A little warm, but that’s OK.  Also, the color is quite a bit darker than I was hoping for.  It was nearly a 90 minute boil so that may have added a little color via some caramelization from being “cooked” so long.

Still, interested to see how this turns out.  Looking forward to something a bit different from my brewhouse.  On to Berlin !


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