Author Topic: Dark Strong Recipe - Opinions? Criticisms?  (Read 605 times)

Derek

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Dark Strong Recipe - Opinions? Criticisms?
« on: March 21, 2015, 01:33:33 AM »
Planning my first AG brew. 5 Gallon batch scaled down to 2.125 (~Max for my Brew Demon conical).

Single infusion mash @ 148F. Batch sparge. 60 minute boil. Assumed 75% efficiency.

~OG calculated @ 1.091.

Challenger hops: (1.5 @ 60) (1 @ 15) (0.5 @ 5) ~IBU 36.

Recipe so far:

9 lbs. Dingemans Pilsner
3.25 lbs. Dingemans Pale
1 lb. Dingemans Cara 50
0.25 Dingemans Special B
2 lbs. CSI D-90
1 lb.  CSI D-180

My initial entries for water estimated a mash pH of ~5.6, with an addition of 1-3 ml of lactic acid bringing the pH into the generally accepted 5.2-5.5 range.

Wyeast 3787 or WLP 530 will be the yeast.

My gut instinct is to just ditch the Special B and put more Pilsner or Pale malt in, especially since I plan on using a good amount of candi syrup.

Any comments or criticism would be helpful.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Dark Strong Recipe - Opinions? Criticisms?
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2015, 02:27:00 AM »
I might agree on the special B drop. I'm not real familiar with the malt though so I'm not going to whole hardheartedly recommend you leave it out.

Although, if you were going to leave out a malt I would leave out the cara50 and go with the special B because I want more dark dried fruity flavors in my Dark Strong than caramel flavors. I've also not used the cara 50 but in my experience medium crystal/cara malts highlight the caramel flavors while special B is supposed to bring a more raisiny flavor to the party.

I'd be temped to bump the IBUs a little as it's going to be a pretty big beer but if you cut out the cara 50 you might not need it.

that's my $0.02
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Derek

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Re: Dark Strong Recipe - Opinions? Criticisms?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2015, 02:49:54 AM »
A good idea may be to keep the Special B as is, replace the Cara50 (CaraMunich) with a lesser amount of a lighter Caramel malt (CaraVienna/Cara20) and swap the sugar selections (1lb. D-90 and 2 lbs. D-180).

The D-180 reportedly (I cannot yet speak from experience) has more of the plum, figs, other dark fruit flavors than the D-90. Most, if not all, of the Dark Strongs and Dubbels that I surveyed (CSI's recipe bank, BLAM) used CaraMunich (DM Cara 50) or CaraVienna (DM Cara 20) in varying amounts, although again I do not have any direct experience yet.

The one thing I noticed researching both BLAM, the CSI archives, and to a lesser degree The Great Beers of Belgium and Rajotte's Belgian Ale, is the total lack of Special B use. This is interesting because nearly every stateside Belgian Inspired/Styled recipe seems to not only include it but champion it.

Just some observations/brain droppings. I appreciate the comments though. I'm trying to tweak it as I plan on brewing it in concurrence with my wife's pregnancy (fingers crossed) so that I can let it age for 9 months!


Offline majorvices

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Re: Dark Strong Recipe - Opinions? Criticisms?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2015, 01:37:33 PM »
I don't use Special B in my recipe and I get plenty of dark fruit character. I do use cara munich for background sweetness. Now, you certainly can use Special B if you want more dark fruit character. I personally don't use it because I feel that I get a little more yeast character by keeping the dark fruits "balanced". Just depends what you want!

Derek

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Re: Dark Strong Recipe - Opinions? Criticisms?
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2015, 10:54:04 PM »
What's really interesting to me is the Trappist's knowledge of and faith in their yeast. It is incredible that some of the known and speculated recipes (of which some clones I have tasted are spot on) for Trappist and Abbey style beers use so few grains.

Any Dark Strong that can use just Pilsner, Pale, or Pilsner and Pale and just dark syrup and get the depth of flavor and color of either the Rochefort 10, Westvleteren 12, St. Bernadus 12, etc. is just amazing to me. Thier yeast imparts most of the character into the beer.

Take even the Westmalle Dubbel. If you take BLAM for the gospel that I think it is and combine that with the recipes over at CSI (which at the very least is like a research library of Belgian beer brewing) you can quickly come to the conclusion that your dealing with some Pilsner and Caramel malts, some dark sugar and maybe (if you subscribe to the common thoughts) some form of roasted malt. Very few, very simple ingredients used to create probably my favorite beer.

I want to try and capture that simplicity with this recipe. Let the yeast do the heavy lifting and character development.

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Re: Dark Strong Recipe - Opinions? Criticisms?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2015, 11:35:51 PM »
What's really interesting to me is the Trappist's knowledge of and faith in their yeast. It is incredible that some of the known and speculated recipes (of which some clones I have tasted are spot on) for Trappist and Abbey style beers use so few grains.

Any Dark Strong that can use just Pilsner, Pale, or Pilsner and Pale and just dark syrup and get the depth of flavor and color of either the Rochefort 10, Westvleteren 12, St. Bernadus 12, etc. is just amazing to me. Thier yeast imparts most of the character into the beer.

Take even the Westmalle Dubbel. If you take BLAM for the gospel that I think it is and combine that with the recipes over at CSI (which at the very least is like a research library of Belgian beer brewing) you can quickly come to the conclusion that your dealing with some Pilsner and Caramel malts, some dark sugar and maybe (if you subscribe to the common thoughts) some form of roasted malt. Very few, very simple ingredients used to create probably my favorite beer.

I want to try and capture that simplicity with this recipe. Let the yeast do the heavy lifting and character development.

Exactly the way I feel. Hence the reason I do not use special B right now. Mine is basically Pils, Cara Munich, Dark Candi.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Dark Strong Recipe - Opinions? Criticisms?
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2015, 01:21:54 AM »
Like I said, I'm not that familiar with special B or caramunich. And I respect Keiths opinion a lot. I was more suggesting you drop one crystal or the other entirely, not replace it with a different one. a big beer will have a lot of sweetness, not just residual sugar sweetness but alcohol sweetness, and a big beer brewed with a lot of pilsner malt with have an additional non-sugary sweetness from that. with a relatively low bittering level it will have plenty of that sweetness without both crystal malt.
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Offline svejk

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Re: Dark Strong Recipe - Opinions? Criticisms?
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2015, 02:58:18 PM »
Here is an article that you might find interesting:

http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-21902-beer-guide-2014-beer-of-the-year.html

Pfriem's Belgian Dark Strong is the best American example I've had, and he doesn't use any Special B or Caramunich.  In my mind, specialty grains like Special B and Caramunich are the reason why American BDS examples don't taste like Belgian examples.  That said, it really comes down to what you're going for.  In my experience, dark strongs with specialty grains will more likely score higher in competitions because the dark fruit notes will stand out more when compared to others.  When tasting a non-specialty grain version on its own, though, my experience is that it is a much more pleasant experience because the lower residual sweetness allows the subtleties of the yeast flavors shine through.

Derek

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Re: Dark Strong Recipe - Opinions? Criticisms?
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2015, 05:50:46 PM »
Here is an article that you might find interesting:

http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-21902-beer-guide-2014-beer-of-the-year.html

Pfriem's Belgian Dark Strong is the best American example I've had, and he doesn't use any Special B or Caramunich.  In my mind, specialty grains like Special B and Caramunich are the reason why American BDS examples don't taste like Belgian examples.  That said, it really comes down to what you're going for.  In my experience, dark strongs with specialty grains will more likely score higher in competitions because the dark fruit notes will stand out more when compared to others.  When tasting a non-specialty grain version on its own, though, my experience is that it is a much more pleasant experience because the lower residual sweetness allows the subtleties of the yeast flavors shine through.

I have no experience to back this up but BLAM lists many of the examples of Dubbels and DS as using some form of caramel malt. Whether that is CaraMunich or CaraVienna I couldn't tell you. Rochefort 10, Westmalle Dubbel, Chimay Grande Reserve, etc. There are no amounts used in these general specifications but they were culled from visits to the brewery themselves. If you place any faith in the recipes over at Candi Syrup, Inc. then it seems caramel malt is a must for nearly all of the famous dubbels, bda and specialty Belgians.

That being said, famous Dark Strongs like Westvleteren 12 and St. Bernadus Abt 12 don't use anything other than base malt and maybe some roasted malt in the case of the Abt. 12. Undoubtedly these beers gain much of their character from the yeast and their fermentation schedules.

I think that the amount of CaraMunich I listed was a bit much. 1 lb. in a 15 lb. grain bill is a bit over the generally acknowledged 5% value for the darker of the caramel malts, especially in a beer that will have 3 lbs. of syrup.

The only way to know for sure is to try it out I guess. I'm going to try and brew a Dubbel concurrent with this batch so that I can use a single package of yeast and create 2 starters for the 1.5 gal. batch sizes


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Re: Dark Strong Recipe - Opinions? Criticisms?
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2015, 06:18:33 PM »
I like D180 and Special B (no other crystal-type malts) in my quad. I also mash low/long enough to get a low FG.  I like my results.
Jon H.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Dark Strong Recipe - Opinions? Criticisms?
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2015, 07:41:23 PM »
for what it's worth, by BDS ish beer is pale, munich 2 and coconut sugar.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time"
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"errors are [...] the portals of discovery"
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