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02/02/07 08:44 PM  
Strong dark attempt
Inspired by how nice a commercial strong dark I had recently was (a Trader Joe's Vintage 2006 from Unibroue), I decided to try my hand at something bigger than my usual dubbels. With BLAM in hand and a thorough perusal of the usual online suspects, I put together this recipe:

5 lb. Dingemans pale

5 lb. Dingemans pilsner

.25 lb. Belgian CaraVienne

.25 lb. Belgian Special B

.3 lb. Chocolate

1 lb. Rolled oats (cereal mashed in prep)

Mashed at 147 for 60 minutes

1.5 lb. Dark Candi Syrup

1 lb. chinese sugar rocks

.5 oz each of Tettnanger, Saaz and Willamette at 60 minutes.

Blend of WY3787 and WY1762, pitch at 60F, and let climb to whatever it wants to in my 68F house.

I'm hoping for a cross between a Rochefort and a Westmalle.

Let me know what you think and any modifications you'd make.

Ross Lunato
02/02/07 09:05 PM  
Re: Strong dark attempt
I would drop the chocolate malt completely from the recipe. Even at 2% you are going to get a roastiness from it which is not appropriate to style. You may want to bring up the crystal malts to about 5-7% total. Just my humble opinion.
02/03/07 09:03 AM  
Re: Strong dark attempt
No chocolate in a dark ever? BLAM's composition table indicates that 32% of homebrewed attempts at a dark contain chocolate, and 2% is the average concentration...

Is it your contention that those 32% are wrong and the other 68% are right?

I'd like to hear thoughts on the oats.

Ross Lunato
02/03/07 10:12 AM  
Re: Strong dark attempt
If you want a bit of roastiness in your beer then by all means use the chocolate malt. However, I have found that even small amounts of chocolate (2%) will provide a roastiness I don't care for in this style. If used around 1% you'll get a toast-like aroma however, higher amounts may result in that stout-like roastiness. Also, I have brewed alot of Scottish ales recently that use a malt bill similar to a Dubbel or Dark Strong with about 2% of chocolate malt added and I can say the chocolate malt stands out. If you are committed to the chocolate malt, may I suggest using pale chocolate malt in place of the dark chocolate malt. This malt does not contribute quite as much roast to the beer.

Note on page 165 in BLAM states:

"Chocolate: Although tasting notes for abbey beers may use the word "chocolate," among the Trappist only Achel uses this roasted malt (300 to 380*L). Adds aroma, deep red color, and nutty flavors when used in moderation, but can contribute a roastiness uncharacteristic for the style."

Also, please check out the award winning Dark Strong recipe by Jamil Zainasheff on the BLAM web site; no chocolate malt whatsoever.

Regarding the oats, I wouldn't use them either. I would never say that you couldn't use them, just that I wouldn't. Reason: To my tastes, oats provide a raw cereal like flavor and aroma. Tastes great in Tripel Karmeliet and stouts but I don't think I would chance it in a Dark Strong. Also, and I don't have the science to back this up, but it seems like oats are a head killer to me. Everytime I've used them, I seem to not get the foam I thought I would. I'm not crazy about wheat either but that's another discussion.

Again, these my very humble and personal opinions.

02/03/07 01:51 PM  
Re: Strong dark attempt
I think I'm going to keep the oats in there to see what the hungry little beasties in 3787 make of it. I'm counting on them for some body enhancement, particularly since I mashed at 147, I want to see if the oat silkyness survives this yeast blend. I can live without a foamy head.
02/04/07 12:03 PM  
Re: Strong dark attempt
If you're going to do the chocolate, I would recommend using de-husked, eliminates alot of the harshness from the husk. I think BLAM also indicated that only Achel uses roasted like chocolate. I would side with the 68%, but since it is Belgian, nothing is ever wrong.
02/04/07 01:34 PM  
Re: Strong dark attempt
Westmalle also uses "dark malt" for aroma. I wouldn't be surprised if they used a bit of chocolate. Ocassionally, I use chocolate malt, but no more than 4 oz for a five gallon batch.

I think that chocolate wheat works really well. It has a smooth chocolate flavor without the astrigent roast component.

I haven't tried chocolate rye yet, but I'd like to. It might be interesting.

Some advise I was given, "Remember to brew like yourself, but with monastic patience."



02/21/07 01:08 PM  
Re: Strong dark attempt
Well, 20 days into the fermentation and this beer has been resting in a keg at about 48F for a week now. Tasting a sample at racking gives me great hope for this one... it has that figgy/anise thing on top of a nice toastiness. The desired complexity is coming out in spades.

In the spirit of these beers, I decided to top-crop some yeast off this one, as I did an open ferment with just a dishtowel covering the bucket. Having a great load of belgian yeast ready to go in the fridge set me thinking that maybe I should brew another batch and make a few variations, and then have two beers that might be amenable to blending, and that will certainly age gracefully.

So, I decided to up the gravity of the next one, and came up with this recipe:

6 lbs Dingemans Pils

6 lbs Dingemans Pale

1 lb Dingemans Caramunich

11 oz Dingemans Caravienne

2 oz Special B

8 oz Flaked corn

1 lb Rolled Oats

1 lb Dark Candi Syrup

14 oz Chinese spiced sugar rocks (subtly spiced, so nothing to worry about)

8 oz brown sugar

Willamette, Hallertauer and Saaz to about 25 IBUs.

Got that mashed boiled and cooled yesterday by 5, and pitched my top croppings, and I was getting airlock activity by midnight, and blow off this morning. Wow are those some energetic little buggers. I do wonder which strain is dominant in this blend... the 3787 or the 1762... I wonder if my tastebuds will be able to answer that. Hmmm.

02/21/07 05:31 PM  
Re: Strong dark attempt
CDH, I used the 1762 in a series just recently, and I also got great results with little lag time. By the third batch, I was seeing activity in under 6 hours. Those little beasties fermented out my fifth batch, a dark strong, to 12.6% ABV! They threw off quite a bit of clove and phenol along the way.

I'm curious to hear how the 'spiced' Chinese sugar comes through - I've been using dark Indian jaggery/Gur to good effect in similar recipes.

Brian Richards
02/22/07 01:58 AM  
Re: Strong dark attempt
I actually had really good results by adding just a little bit of chocolate malt in a Strong Dark that I did, I think at 2% you should keep it in there, thats about what I used in mine.
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