26. Trappist Ale


(Belgian Dubbel, 26B) BeerSmith Recipe File


I love creating beers for special occasions, but this one might be the most special. A fellow home-brewer and friend of Klaserhausen is having twin boys. So we decided to brew him and his wife a special batch of Dubbel. We’re going to bottle it all (save for The Stig’s sample) in belgian bottles, and give it to the parents-to-be at the baby shower.

The recipe is straight forward, though I’m using up the last little bit of our CO2 hop extract for bittering. I was hoping to get my hands on the East Coast Yeast Abbaye Ale, but alas none was available. Tripel Happiness was made with that yeast, and a belgian dark strong (non-blog related) and The Stig loved both those beers. Coincidence? Not sure, but I was hoping not to leave that up to chance. So, I settled on the Trappist Ale yeast from White Labs.

I’ve been struggling back and forth with efficiency and lautering ever since I began crushing my own grain. I couldn’t seem to the the perfect crush that allowed for good extraction but didn’t result in a stuck sparge. I’ve finally settled on my current crush and resigned to using rice hulls in every mash. It’s not much of an expense, and my efficiency is much better for it.  I should note my crush isn’t particularly fine. For whatever reason this seems to just work for my system. Sometimes you have to sort out the quirks of your setup and find workarounds.



11 lbs. Belgian Pilsner Malt
1 lb. Aromatic Malt
0.75 lb. Special B
0.5 lb. Rice Hulls
1 lb. Belgian Candi Syrup 45L (added before boil)

Mash @ 149° for 90 minutes, single infusion (1.5 qt/lb) sparge with 4.5 gal
Boil for 90 minutes

4mL CO2 Hop Extract boil for 60 minutes
1 oz German Tettnang (3.9% AA) boil for 10 minutes

WLP500, 2000ml starter

OG:  1.073
FG:  1.010
ABV:  8.6%
IBU:  21.4
SRM:  16

Fermentation Temperature:  65-70°


Brew Day

It was a great brew day. John and Jason were both present, and we cracked many a brew and didn’t manage to make any mistakes despite our “research”. We absolutely nailed efficiency, and worked very quickly, finishing in great time.

The Klaserhausen Dream Team (Stig not pictured).
The Klaserhausen Dream Team (Stig not pictured).
Steven ponders rocks...
Steven ponders rocks…

A friend of the blog, Steven Graham was also in attendance, and even brought along a bottle of Brooklyn Black Ops. Let it be known:  anyone who comes to my apartment with a bottle of RIS will not be turned away…



We pitched the yeast at 67°, set the temp controller to 65° and let our little fungus friends get to work. On day 3, I set the controller to 67°. On day 5, I set the controller to 69°, and on day 7 the controller was set to 71°. It stayed there for a day or two, then settled back to 67° since I don’t have a heating element. Due mostly to my own busy schedule, the beer sat in primary another week before I moved it to the keg.

The ABV puts this beer outside the Guidelines by over a full percent . . . that seems to be a theme with me. That wasn’t really my intention, but perhaps a lower OG would have been a good idea assuming the attenuation stays the same.

I also had to do something that I hate to admit to: I dumped a batch of home-brew. It was to be a belgian pale ale, but the phenols made this guy undrinkable.

We played "Taps" as in swirled down the drain...
We played “Taps” as it swirled down the drain…



In the fridge, I let the dubbel carbonate for a week to 2.7 volumes. Normally I would push this to 3 volumes, but since I planned to pitch Brett into half of the bottles, I decided to err on the side of caution. I used an eye dropper to put 20 drops from a vial of Brett Brux into half of the bottles. All told, it was about 1/2 the vial for 11 750mL bottles. I marked the bottles containing Brett with a green “X” on the bottom. Over time the beers should differentiate themselves, which I think is really cool!

I presented the bottles to the parents-to-be at their housewarming/baby shower party (they’ve been especially busy!).

Who brings beer to a baby shower? This guy!
Who brings beer to a baby shower? This guy!

Turned out, those babies must have heard about the beer, because they decided to arrive a bit early, before the baby shower! They’re perfectly healthy twin boys, and they’re growing so fast. Congrats again to lucky parents!


My Take

The two most important palates (the parents) loved the beer, so I call that a win. After only a few months, they have also noticed the Brett version starting to take on some character of it’s own, which is really cool.

I’m going to be honest here: I definitely tasted this beer, but I didn’t take any notes. I don’t recall any major flaws or anything “wow” either. I bottled this beer in the middle of getting ready to leave for a trip to South Africa, so I was a little frazzled. We’ll leave the professional judging to The Stig.


The Stig

Some say that He was immaculately conceived, and that He reproduces asexually. All we know is, He’s called The Stig!

Aroma: Raisins, dark rum, brown sugar, butterscotch, cloves, ripe banana, baked apple, and a noticeable amount of fusel alcohol.

Appearance: Almost clear, russet brown/reddish tinged deep amber ~ 18 degrees SRM. No head retention, burnt orange foam that dissipates quickly to reveal a glassy body.

Flavor: Dates, sweetened almonds, dark rum, and cloves. If it were a bit less boozy it would have flavors very reminiscent of mincemeat pie. It is boozy, however, and this lends a sharp, overtly alcoholic character.

Mouthfeel: Thin for the style and not enough carbonation. Hot/boozy, and slick on the palate.

Overall Impression: Great aromatics despite fusels. Front end of palate has requisite flavor profile for Abbey Dubbel, but the middle and finish on this beer is lost to overwhelming alcohol flavors and sensations. Seems as though fermentation got away from intended levels. Which might have resulted in a lower than desired final gravity, yielding a beer without enough body and residual sugars. Perhaps a higher mash temp would serve this beer well – limiting final gravity and providing a more substantial mouthfeel.



Well, I know for a fact that temperature control wasn’t an issue since I was using my thermowell and temperature controller! The beer never got over 69° for the first week, essentially the whole of primary fermentation. And the beer was controlled to 65° for the all important first few days of primary. I don’t recall tasting fusels, but if His Holiness The Stig says that the beer has fusel alcohol, then…

I agree the mash temperature should probably be raised, and the beer would improve with the increased final gravity. BUT: my thinking was to get the gravity fairly low, prior to dosing with Brett, since too high a FG would definitely result in bottle bombs. The fusel production really is stumping me. I had temperature control down, I aerated with O2, and I made an appropriate starter. Perhaps it is just a strain selection problem. Maybe it is just a fluke.

We don't condone drinking while babying here at Klaserhausen... :)
We don’t condone drinking while babying here at Klaserhausen… 🙂

Regardless, the intended audience loves the beer. That makes me happy.


Books I referenced for this recipe:

Zainasheff & Palmer. Brewing Classic Styles. 2007.
Palmer & Kaminski. Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers. 2013.
Tonsmeire. American Sour Beers. 2014.
2008 BJCP Guidelines.


  1. This is a great blog with nice information relating to styles and suggestions/remarks related to the finished products are quite helpful. I’m looking forward to the next month’s installment.

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