Way back in December, my homebrew club had a Belgian tripel contest. I’ll admit that I approached this with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Tripels aren’t really my thing, given their high alcohol content, but on the other hand I think it’s a great idea to stretch my brewing comfort zone. This, after all, is one of the advantages of participating in a homebrew club–you will try styles and get feedback you might not get on your own. So, I took the plunge and brewed a tripel! Recipe and results are below.
- 11.5 lbs. Barket pilsner malt (Weyermann)
- 3 oz. Saaz hop pellets (3.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
- 0.4 oz. U.S. Golding hop pellets (3.9% alpha), 5 minute boil
- 3 lb. white table sugar, 5 minute boil
- 2 pkg. Abbaye Belgian yeast (Lallemand)
- 1.080 s.g., 1.005 f.g., 10.1% abv, 4 SRM, 33 IBU
- Single infusion batch sparge at 149°
- Blend of RO and Claremont tap water
- For the strike water, I added 2.6 g gypsum, 0.4 g table salt, 2.1 g epsom salt, and 3.3 g calcium chloride to 3.845 gallons of RO water.
- I heated the water to 158.6°, and mashed in to hit my target temperature of 148.5°. Mash temperature was down to 144° or so after 60 minutes.
- After 60 minutes, I added 0.9 gallons of water at 180°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. Then, I added 3.3 gallons of water at 180°, let sit 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
- Total collected volume of runnings was 6.8 gallons with a gravity of 1.047, for ~75% efficiency.
- I brought the kettle to a boil, adding ingredients per the recipe.
- After a 60 minute boil, I chilled to 85°, adding 1 tsp of yeast nutrient boiled in 1 cup water. I had forgotten to add this during the boil, and figured it would be important given the high gravity and high percentage of adjunct sugar.
- I chilled the proto-beer down to 66° and aerated with pure O2 for 60 seconds. Then, I pitched the yeast.
- Starting gravity was 1.076, with ~6 gallons into the fermenter.
- I brewed the beer on 7 November 2018. On 1 December, I cold crashed to 33°. I kegged the beer on 2 December 2018, adding 1 tsp. of gelatin in 1 cup of water at 152°. I force carbonated and continued the conditioning at 34°.
- Final gravity was 1.004, down from 1.075. This works out to 9.6% abv.
- Light gold, with decent clarity. Fine and persistent white head. In the earlier days of the beer, I had better head formation; as the brew has aged, this has fallen off quite a bit.
- Hard to describe — peppery, clovely, alcohol-ey
- Hop-forward, with a distinct, almost piercing bitterness. This is balanced against a warming alcohol note and a lightly fruity finish.
- Highly carbonated, fairly dry, with a dryness and bitterness (but not astringency) on the finish.
- Would I brew this again?
- Meh. This was fun to say I did it, but tripel just isn’t a style that I personally care for, and my particular take on it was fairly mediocre. I know that the beer is supposed to be somewhat dry, but I think it ended up so dry that there wasn’t much for malt character. I would cut back the adjunct sugar quite a bit, and consider adding some flaked grains, either wheat or oats, to help round out the grain character. The bitterness is a little much too, so I might notch that back a shade.