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Yeast starter
Yeast starter

Brewing a Belgian Dubbel V2

Previously in this series of articles on How to brew different Styles of Beer? we covered Brewing a Belgian Golden Strong Ale, this time the Beer Style comes from the ‘Trappist Ale’ category in the BJCP 2015 Guidelines and is the style of a Belgian Dubbel, which is in fact a re-brew of the recipe that came from Tomme Arthur in Brew Like a Monk.

Grains 1/2: Belgian Pilsner malt, White Wheat malt, Aromatic malt, Munich malt
Grains #1/2:
– Belgian Pilsner malt
– White Wheat malt
– Aromatic malt
– Munich malt

The reason for re-brewing this beer was in order to enter it into a couple of homebrew competitions including NHC (National Homebrew Competition) 2016.

For details on the background and style guidelines of this style please refer to my previous article on Brewing a Belgian Dubbel.

Ingredients & Recipe

As a reminder the BJCP 2015 Guidelines have the vital statistics of a Belgian Dubbel as follows:

  • Original Gravity (OG) = 1.062 – 1.075
  • Final Gravity (FG) = 1.008 – 1.018
  • Alcohol By Volume (ABV) = 6.0 – 7.6%
  • Bitterness (IBUs) = 15 – 25
  • Color (SRM) = 10 – 17
Grains #2/2: Victory malt, Caramunich malt, Honey malt, Special B malt
Grains #2/2:
– Victory malt
– Caramunich malt
– Honey malt
– Special B malt

According to the BJCP 2015 Guidelines the following are characteristic ingredients used in the brewing of a Belgian Dubbel:

  • Malts: Impression of complex grain bill, although traditional versions are typically Belgian Pils malt with caramelized sugar syrup or other unrefined sugars providing much of the character.
  • Hops: Saazer-type, English-type or Styrian Goldings hops commonly used.
  • Yeast: Belgian yeast strains prone to production of higher alcohols, esters, and phenolics are commonly used.
  • Water: Not specified.
  • Additions: No spices are traditionally used, although restrained use is allowable (background strength only).
Raw sugar
Raw sugar

The tweaked recipe used was as follows:

  • 8 Lb Belgian Pilsner malt
  • 1 Lb 2 oz White Wheat malt
  • 14.5 oz Aromatic malt
  • 9 oz Munich malt
  • 7.4 oz Biscuit malt
  • 7.4 oz Caramunich malt
  • 7.4 oz Honey malt
  • 7.4 oz Special B malt
  • 1 Lb 2 oz Raw sugar
  • 1.0 oz Styrian Goldings (bittering – 90 mins)
  • White Labs Abbey Ale (WLP530) yeast
Liberty & Styrian Goldings hops
Liberty & Styrian Goldings hops

The main changes aside from tweaking quantities to better target the gravities, IBU’s & SRM were:

  • Substituting Victory malt for Biscuit malt due to availability of ingredients.
  • Using Raw Sugar instead of Dark Candi Sugar for cost as there is arguably not much difference between the two.
  • Use of WLP530 yeast instead of White Labs Trappist Ale (WLP500) yeast due to personal preference on esters produced.
  • Dropped the flame-out addition of chopped dates as they did not appear to add much to the flavor last time.


Wort reaching the boil
Wort reaching the boil

The 5 gallon batch of beer was brewed following these steps with only the middle step mash temperature adjusted:

  • Charcoal filtering the borough water and leaving it to stand overnight in order to vent off the chlorine.
  • Measuring out and milling the grains, also measuring out the hops and Irish Moss.
  • Sterilizing the fermentation equipment.
  • Heating the strike water to 154 deg F before mashing-in (adding the grist to the hot water).
  • Maintaining a temperature of 152 deg F for the Saccharification rest so the starches convert into sugars (pH 5.0).
  • Raising the temperature to 168 deg F to mash-out and stop enzymatic activity i.e. halt the conversion of starches to sugars.
  • Removing the grain bag.
  • Boiling for 10 mins to allow time for the hot break to clear.
  • Continue boiling for 30 mins with the first bittering hop addition.
  • Continue boiling for 45 mins with the second bittering hop addition.
  • Adding Irish Moss at 15 mins to help clear the beer.
  • A yeast starter was prepared comprising of 8 oz of DME (Dry Malt Extract) in two liters of water and placed in a flask on a stir plate together with one packet of yeast.
  • Yeast nutrient was added to the wort once it had been cooled.
  • Wort was aerated with Oxygen (60 secs) via a diffusing stone connected to an O2 tank with a regulator.
  • Yeast starter was decanted prior to pitching into the wort so that most of the spent wort did not go into the beer.
  • Primary fermentation was at 67 deg F for one week in a temperature controlled freezer.
  • The beer was racked off the trub (sediment) into the secondary fermenter and held at 67 deg F for a second week before cold crashing.
  • Beer was force carbonated to 3.0 volumes of CO2 after cooling the beer to 36 deg F.


Wort after aeration & yeast nutrient added
Wort after aeration & yeast nutrient added

How did my batch of Belgian Dubbel turn out?

The brew day was very smooth with only slightly falling short by 2 points on the Starting Gravity but still keeping within the style guidelines.

Here are the actual vital statistics:

  • OG: 1.064
  • FG: 1.014
  • ABV: 6.56%
  • Bitterness: 21.7 IBUs*
  • Color: 28.9 SRM*

* calculated via BeerSmith software.

The Finishing Gravity was 4 points higher than anticipated due to the beer not attenuating as far as expected but 1.014 was still within the range specified in the guidelines. Missing both the OG and FG did affect the alcohol content which ended up towards the lower end of the style.

Belgian Dubbel sampler
Belgian Dubbel sampler

The calculation of the color is questionable in my opinion because the actual beer looked similar to most commercial examples.

The tasting notes are as follows:

Light amber in color with a thick cream head. Aroma is of Belgian yeast and treacle whilst the flavor is banana and clove with some slight caramel. Moderate carbonation with a medium body and mouth-feel.

This beer tastes much better than the last time it was brewed and I am looking forward to seeing how well it does in competition.

What’s Next?

In my next article in this series I will be examining Brewing a Belgian Golden Strong Ale which is in the ‘Strong Belgian Ale’ category so please check back for that article to be published.

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