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The Belgian Tripel is just one of the many famous beer styles that Belgians have created during their historic relationship with alcoholic beverages. This recipe has its roots in old-world traditions where Trappist monks would fund their monasteries through the non-profit production of beer. Today in the new world, many of us beer lovers have developed quite a fond appreciation for Belgian beer, especially our friend Ross. Upon meeting his girlfriend she presented him with a pickup line that went, “Drinking tripel, seeing double, feeling single.” The rest is now history, and fortunately Ross isn’t feeling single anymore. Because of Ross’ appreciation for the Belgian Tripel beer style, he wanted to brew this one to take to a friend’s wedding. Read on to learn how to brew a high ABV Belgian Golden Ale that’s made for celebrations and parties.
Ross is our resident Tripel expert, he also works at New Belgium
Full Brew Day Video
We brewed this using Clawhammer Supply’s 120 Volt 10 Gallon Brewing System. Watch us use it in the video below.
We started this brew day with 8.11 gallons (30.7 liters) of water in our brewing kettle.
This recipe calls for 14 pounds (6.3 kg) of Pilsner Malt. We spent a little more on our grain for this beer and bought Dingemans Pilsner Malt. Dingemans supplies malt to many if not most breweries in Belgium and is used for every famous beer style created in the country. We crushed the grains before mashing in.
Pouring Dingemans Pilsner Malt into a grinder
After crushing our grain, we mashed our 14 pounds (6.3 kg) of Pilsner Malt in at 148° F (64.4° C). We mashed for 90 minutes.
Make sure to stir your mash, dough balls are bad!
10 minutes into our 90-minute mash we checked our PH and found that it was at 5.6.
Filling a pint glass up with wort to test PH
We carefully added Lactic Acid to our mash in order to bring the PH down to 5.26, which is right where we wanted it. We recommend you aim for a PH of 5.2-5.3.
Syringe filled with lactic acid
Putting syringe of lactic acid into mash
After adding lactic acid our PH was just right
Since this mash was so long, we decided to be productive during it and head to the local bottle so we could enjoy some tripels during the rest of the brew day. Make sure to watch our brew day video and our tripel tasting video to see what beers we bought and what we thought of them.
We tasted two tripels from the old world and two tripels from the new world
Hops and Boil
After our 90 minute mash, we pulled our grain basket and turned our controller up to 100% of power to start a boil as soon as possible.
This recipe calls for a 90-minute boil.
At the top of our boil, we did a 90-minute addition of Simplicity Candi Syrup. We turned off our heating element before adding this to make sure no syrup was burned during the addition. We added 2 pounds (.9 kg) of this, but you could get away with adding 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg). That’s what we meant to add but we didn’t buy enough.
We stirred in our candy syrup addition really well in order to make sure all of it was incorporated into the wort. Once our 90-minute addition was all stirred in, we turned the heat back on and resumed the boil. The sugars from these candy syrup additions will do a big part in making this a high ABV beer.
30 minutes into our boil we did a 60-minute addition of Styrian Golding Hops. We added 1 ounce (28.3 grams).
These hops only have 1.8% alpha acids, so they will add very minimal bitterness to our beer.
60 minutes into our boil we did a 30-minute addition of Nelson Sauvin hops. We added a .5 ounce (14 grams) of these.
Adding Nelson Sauvin hops into the hop silo
Right after our 30-minute addition we added a whirlfloc tablet to the boil. Whirlfloc tablets help with clarity, which is very important for the tripel style.
Yeast & Fermentation
Once our 90-minute boil was over we hooked up our chilling hoses and started cooling our wort down to a yeast pitching temperature of around 75° F (23.9° C).
Since this wort has a lot of sugar in it, our yeast may need some help. In order to make our fermentation as active as possible, we took the opportunity to aerate our beer while chilling it.
Letting the wort splash back into the kettle is an easy way to incorporate oxygen
All these bubbles mean aeration is definitely happening
To ferment this beer we bought two packs of WLP530 Abbey Ale Yeast from White Labs.
Even though this is two packs of yeast, we’re still probably underpitching for this style. We should have made a yeast starter in preparation for this brew day, but unfortunately time snuck up on us. Read this article if you want to learn how to make a yeast starter.
After transferring our chilled wort to a fermenter, we pitched our Abbey Ale Yeast and aerated some more through agitation.
Once our wort was chilled to 75° F (23.9° C) we began transferring it
We performed a daring move during this brew day and didn't turn off our pump before transferring to a fermentation bucket
We made sure to sanitize everything before pitching our yeast, including the yeast packet and the scissors we used to cut it
We aerated this one final time by shaking our fermenter with the lid on
Aerating is always a good idea because it helps incorporate more oxygen into your wort which will subsequently help your yeast ferment better.
Once our airlock was put in place on top of our fermenter, we checked a starting gravity sample that we took while transferring our wort into the fermenter. We got a starting gravity of 1.077.
We used a normal airlock, but we suggest you use a blow-off tube
We fermented this at room temperature (72 Fahrenheit) for three weeks. We then moved it to a fermentation chamber where it was lagered for 6 weeks at 45 Fahrenheit.
Fermentation became very active at room temperature
This beer had a very active fermentation, so our efforts at excessively aerating definitely paid off. What we were rewarded with after 6 weeks of waiting was a classic Belgian Tripel that could have competed with all of the commercial tripels we drank while brewing it. This fermented down to a final gravity of 1.012 which gave us an ABV of 8.5%. Technically, according to our own definitions, a true Tripel is 9% or more. We’re still calling this a Tripel, but if we added a .5 pound (8 ounces) more candy syrup like we should have, this definitely would have been 9% or more.
The beer looked honey-golden with just a bit of haze and had an estery aroma to it. When we tasted it we immediately picked up banana bread, clove, and spice. Despite the high ABV, we couldn’t taste any booze, making this beer a sneak attack that anyone can drink.
Ross summed our tasting up by saying, “I don’t want to brag, but I think we really nailed this style.”
When Ross took it to his friend’s wedding, everyone there seemed to think it was good as well. Comments at the wedding ranged from “oh yeah” and “this is delicious” to “this is classic, it reminds me of Kasteel” which is a Tripel brewed in Belgium.
Ross pouring the tripel at his friend's wedding
If you like this recipe, you should check out these other high ABV recipes we've brewed