Belgian Dubbel with Cherries – Tasting

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Well.  It seems I’ve managed to produce a largely clean (i.e. non-Sour) beer in the time it normally takes to produce a full-on aged and soured beer.

But look at it…doesn’t it look pretty?

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This was supposed to be last year’s Christmas beer…but it’s sort of ended up being this year’s potential Christmas beer.

Here’s the original post and recipe: https://yeastismybitch.com/2015/10/01/deck-the-halls-with-festive-bollocks-a-christmas-belgian-dubbel-with-cherries/

As I said in the post, I was hoping it’d only sit for a couple of weeks on the fruit, but it seemed so happy and looked like it was having another ferment so I put it into two demijohns under airlock and forgot about it.

I bottled it a few weeks ago (a year later) and now it’s time to taste…

As I said previously, it’s a nice colour with a good running bead.  I got the carbonation smack-on this time.

The nose is largely neutral, clean smelling but with some trace of fruit.

The body is thin, and we’re not exactly in complexity-central with the taste.  The finish is fairly dry and there’s some fruit – but it’s not sweet fruit, it’s fermented out fruit.

It’s not particularly sour as such, but there is some tartness – and that’s coming directly from the sour cherries, so it’s a malic acid (think crab apple sharpness) sour contribution rather than any microbial action – and that malic acid might also be contributing to the overall dryness.

I can’t discern any Brett character, so what we’ve got here is probably an aged dry fruit beer…a style that I seem to have invented, only for it to fall immediately into obscurity.

I’m in two minds about whether I like it or not.  I can’t quite work out whether the malic acid is too much, or if it’s a bit “something and nothing”.  I’ll keep a few bottles back and see how it goes…another year can’t hurt, can it?

Next time I try this: I’ll ferment the base beer cleanly, then bung in fruit and a culture of lacto and some interesting bacteria to do the job properly.

Keep your eyes peeled for that one…

In the meantime, I’ll let my taste-testers deliver the final verdict…

PS: The un-fruited Belgian that this beer is based on is still going strong – which is code for still having bottles of it left; big corked bottles too.  I tried one the other week and it’s not bad at all, despite my initial misgivings.  So there’s a lesson for us all…age your Belgians for a year or so in the bottle and see how they change.  Same for Saisons: I have one coming up on two years in the bottle – I’m looking forward to trying one of those at Christmas…

Deck the halls with festive bollocks: A Christmas Belgian Dubbel (with Cherries)

20150708_113530It’s only just October, yet I can already feel the weight of Christmas bearing down on my very soul.  Still, if there’s one good thing about it, it’s seeing their little faces light up as you bring the bottles out…and that’s the adults, rather than the kids.

Don’t you think that kids get enough for Christmas as it is!?

I decided to do a Belgian Dubbel because I haven’t done one before and also because the style should carry the foraged wild cherries well.

Apparently I have enough cherries in the freezer for 10L only (according to this advice: http://byo.com/hops/item/679-fruit-brew-part-2-techniques) so with a bit of rounding up and buggering around it looks like 1Kg of cherries for every 5L of beer.  The remaining 13L will go into bottles as a standard Belgian Dubbel.

The Dubbel style calls for maltiness without too much hop, so it seems a perfect vehicle for the fruit.  My taste of this beer as it went into the fermenter was deeply malty with a nice chocolate malt edge.  Cherries and Chocolate, how nice is that?

I did the usual Braumeister routine but with a higher maltose rest to encourage some more body (mash-in at 38C, maltose rest at 67C [80 mins] and mashed out at 76C [10 mins]), you can find the recipe below and also note that I’m using Safebrew Abbaye dried yeast – which I’m reliably told by my wife “stinks”, while it’s fermenting…

What “stinks” to my wife is usually a good solid Belgian phenol ferment to me.  Once it got going it went like a steam train.

After two weeks, I’ll rack 10 litres off into a carboy with the cherries – which I’ll be sulphiting for 24 hours beforehand.  Much as I love sour beer, this isn’t going to be one, and there’ll wild yeast aplenty on those cherries.

I’m also going to purge the carboy with C02 as I don’t want any staling from 02 exposure.  I expect I’ll leave it then until December 1st and then bottle it for Chrimbo.

I’ll update this post with all that fun and games when I do it…

Here’s the recipe, see how I cunningly used up a right load of odds and ends!  (Including 600g of Thai Palm sugar)

Dubbel