Author Topic: Westvleteren Beer Color  (Read 1060 times)

Derek

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Westvleteren Beer Color
« on: June 09, 2015, 03:59:50 PM »
So I was looking through the list of water profiles in Bru'n Water and noticed a few that might have already been there (some of the Belgian profiles are listed by geographical area and not brewery) but that I did not recognize.

I ended up adding my own profile, Achel, Westmalle and Westvleteren. The Trappist profiles were pulled from BLAM and one thing that struck me after rereading the chapter on the Trappist breweries was how intense the Westvleteren profile is.

An interesting thing occured to me when I read their section from the book: They claim to use only Dingeman's Pilsner and Pale malt plus plain sugar.

Is this possible given the colors of their beers? A long boil would certainly help in darkening the wort and even some caramelized sugar would help too but the 12 in particular seems so dark. Can you get that kind of color with base malts and table sugar?

Also, their water treatment regimen is secret. 

Offline pete b

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Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2015, 04:02:24 PM »
That is surprising, I would have thought there was a little dark candy syrup in there.
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Offline Pinski

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Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2015, 04:15:57 PM »
"plain" sugar can mean many things.
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Derek

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Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2015, 04:18:30 PM »
"plain" sugar can mean many things.

I take it as sucrose. Plain strikes mean as Table sugar. With varying degrees of modification I guess.

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2015, 04:20:35 PM »
In this case I think it means pale malts plus loads of dark Candi syrup/sugar. You don't get that color or depth of flavor from simple table sugar.
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Derek

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Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2015, 04:30:47 PM »
In this case I think it means pale malts plus loads of dark Candi syrup/sugar. You don't get that color or depth of flavor from simple table sugar.

That's my point. Stan writes in BLAM:

"The brewery only uses two malts, Dingeman's Pale and Pilsner, in all it's beers, with plain sugar added to each...........The monks won't reveal how the dark beers obtain their color, as well as the the intriguing flavors normally produced by darker malts and/or dark candi sugar. However, Jackson and others report the use of caramelized sugar. A longer boil also adds color."

Unless the monks are pulling a "Heady Topper" and perpetuating their own mystique, there is something fishy (or magical) going on.

You of course have to take the above excerpt at face value.

Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2015, 04:44:32 PM »
The best clone recipe I know uses pils + pale plus about 15% 180 SRM candy syrup.
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Offline AmandaK

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Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2015, 04:50:40 PM »
I'll have to try and remember to ask Stan this week. Curious minds...  :D
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2015, 04:57:34 PM »
Unless the monks are pulling a "Heady Topper" and perpetuating their own mystique, there is something fishy (or magical) going on.

I think it's just as simple as pale malts + simple sugar + monk's secret ingredient (really high quality dark candi syrup(s) that they won't disclose). Makes me wish I had some on hand to sample !  I had it a few years ago, loved it but didn't love the online price much.
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Derek

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Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2015, 05:18:48 PM »
I'm to convince my buddies to take the plunge on a mix case of the 6, 8 and 12.

Derek

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Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2015, 05:36:54 PM »
I wonder how the hell they get their mash pH in range.......

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2015, 06:18:10 PM »
I wonder how the hell they get their mash pH in range.......

I'm betting they mash the pale malts and adjust pH accordingly, then add the sugar and syrups somewhere near the end of the boil, or even incrementally, after fermentation has started.
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Offline narvin

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Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2015, 06:29:32 PM »
Caramelized sugar = dark candy syrup.  It's pretty common in Belgium.

Also, most Belgian breweries treat their water and use acid to lower mash pH.
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Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2015, 06:56:37 PM »
Caramelized sugar = dark candy syrup.  It's pretty common in Belgium.

We put it on pancakes. We don't want to hurt no sweet maple trees.  8)
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Derek

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Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2015, 07:04:09 PM »
Caramelized sugar = dark candy syrup.  It's pretty common in Belgium.

Yeah I get that, but in the context of the book that's conjecture. I guess I meant that if you take the monk's word at face value, they mash pale malts and use table sugar and a long boil to get that color. You made the natural extension that I would have: It just ain't possible without some syrup.

Also, most Belgian breweries treat their water and use acid to lower mash pH.

I guess boiling the water beforehand would do a lot to get those high numbers Westvleteren has down significantly. Then I can see salts and acid doing the rest. Good point.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 07:05:58 PM by Derek »