tripel

A Small Batch Tripel

This is the first Belgian I’ve made, and I decided to go big with a Tripel. This is also probably the best beer I’ve made yet, it certainly is my favorite.

Recipe

Details

Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
Boil Time: 60 minutes
Estimated IBU: 34
OG (Est/Act): 1.076 / 1.078
FG (Est/Act): 1.009 / 1.010
ABV (Est/Act): 9.0% / 9.0%
Brewhouse Efficiency (Est/Act): 68% / 70%
Target Mash Temp: 148°F
Target Fermentation Temp: 70°F
Estimated Color: 5.2 SRM

Fermentables

Belgian Pilsner malt makes up the bulk of the grist, with a touch of Aromatic malt to add some complexity and maltiness. Since trappist ales typically have some simple sugars in them, I added a half pound of table sugar (sucrose) that I inverted and made into a syrup for easy use.

Amount Name SRM %
6lb 4oz Belgian Pilsner 2 88.5%
5oz Aromatic Malt (DE) 20 4.5%
8oz Invert Sugar Syrup 0 7.0%

Hops

I used Magnum at first wort hop for neutral bittering, and Hallertauer for a little bit of late boil flavor.

Amount Name AA Use Form
0.4oz Magnum (DE) 13.5% FWH – 60 Minutes Pellets
0.5oz Hallertauer (DE) 2.5% Boil – 15 Minutes Pellets

Yeast

Since my favorite Tripel is from Chimay, I opted to use WLP500 which is supposedly sourced from Chimay. I made a 1.5 liter starter and put aside 0.5 liters for future use.

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
WLP500 Monastery Ale Yeast White Labs 75-80% 68°F-74°F

Water

For those curious about the water’s mineral contents, look up the profile for Denver water (the City of Edgewater sources it’s water from Denver). It’s pretty clean, so I didn’t do anything to the water except treat it with a Campden table to remove any potential chlorine and/or chloramine in the water.

Fermenting

The beer was fermented in a 5 gallon glass carboy. I started with a fermentation temperature of 66°F, planning to let it ramp up on its own. Perhaps due to the fact it was in my chilly basement, and with only a reptile heater and towel wrapped around it, the fermentation temperature never increased without intervention. As the fermentation was completing, I did increase it to 72°F to help finish it out and hopefully bring out some of the more Belgian character from the yeast.

After 8 weeks in the primary (yes, 8 weeks!), I bottled it.

Bottling

The beer was bottled in mostly 750mL corkable belgian bottles. This was a fun and kind of annoying process to do with my Colonna Capper/Corker.

I added enough sucrose (table sugar) to target 3.0 vols using the calculator in Beersmith.

With the corks, wire cages, and a label I whipped up, the presentation of these bottles came out very nice!

Corked Up

Tasting Notes

These notes are from the bottle I opened up on New Year’s Eve. Almost a full 6 months since it was bottled! A little bit of a celebration with my wife. We didn’t have a bottle of champagne, but did have some homebrewed Tripel! (No, we didn’t stay up until midnight. Yes, we’re old.)

The beer is well-carbonated (I targeted 3.0 vols), and poured into my belgian tulip with a nice white head. The first pour from the bottle had excellent clarity. Future pours out of the bottle were a little bit more cloudy as the yeast at the bottom of the bottle got stirred up.

Aroma was mostly fruity, with notes of apple and oranges. Just a small bready hint with some small floral notes.

Flavor was amazing. The first thing I noticed were the spicy phenols. Definitely very Belgian in character. This was followed up with quite a bit of fruitiness, the same fruitiness I picked up in the aroma. There was low to moderate bitterness from the hops. The malt flavors definitely took a background here and it finished off with some sneaky alcohol warmth.

The mouthfeel was light and dry, thanks in part to all the bubbles from the high amount of carbonation. Little to no astringency.

Results

I had a couple of thicker 12oz Belgian bottles that I opened after a month. I then opened one of the large bottles after 3 months, and waited another 2 months before opening another. There was definite improvement over the full 6 months in the bottle!

I will definitely be making this again in a 5 gallon batch. I didn’t feel the bitterness from the hops was assertive enough, so I may bump up the FWH additions. I also plan to ferment it in my mini-fridge turned fermentation chamber. That should help keep in the heat generated by fermentation and allow the temperature to ramp up on its own.

We ended up liking the beer enough to give a few away to friends and family that are also homebrewers. We only have a couple left and I wish I had made more!

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