is a strong pale ale beer typical of the Belgium and
Netherlands area of Western Europe. It ranges from
5.2% to 10.2% abv. Used by other breweries, the
Trappist Brewery of Westmalle first referred to the beer in
1956, representing their strongest beer, and making the term
famous. Trappist beer refers to where it comes from -
not the style of beer.
Many of Belgium's breweries have an imitation of the
brew, including the La Trappe Tripel from Koningshoeven,
Netherlands. That's the beer the author, Rick Morris
enjoyed during his 5 years in Holland, many times over with
his Dutch father-in-law, Hubert - the namesake for this
special homebrew. Here's a picture of bottles of beer
from the 7 Trappist breweries.
You're basically looking at two varying origins of the
term tripel. 1. It derived from the "x"
they put on the cask, indicating the level of alcohol.
One X meant it was a weak beer. Two XX's and you had a
somewhat stronger beer. Three XXX's and you had the
strongest beer. The other indicated the original
gravity from 3% to 6%, and up to the Tripel, which was 9%
Styles of Beer
Many have said the taste of beer must be "acquired".
That may be true. Although factors such as the brewing
process and various spices, fruits, etc. play a role, the
taste of beer chiefly comes from the malt and water
used, esters (or lack of) from the yeast, and the hops.
And, it's the hops that people are inherently tasting when
we say beer is an acquired taste...
You'll find that most beginners use bottles for their
home brewed beer. But, as you advance your
knowledge and experience in brewing beer at home,
you'll likely want to move away from bottling to kegging
your beer. Learn about the various home brew
kegs and kegging systems.
Get answers about the home brew system, the best
home brew kits, all
the different pieces of
home brew gear, and even where to obtain beer
labels for your bottles!
Any of the Belgian Monk beers brewed within the
walls of the Trappist Monastery and controlled by
the International Trappist Association. World
renowned beers that are considered by us among the
Great beer, brewed in a fashion familiar to any of
us who have served with the Army/Air Force in
Germany during the Cold War. Love the new Pint
Glass they sent me recently. Ummmmmm!
While stationed in The Netherlands, this was the
more popular beer, after Heineken. In our
opinion, it is a far better brew than the big "H"
beer! Unfortunately, Brand beer is not
available in the United States.
August 10, 2012 - 3pm - This is our second go with this
Abbey/Monk-style Tripel. Since the Belgian Tripel
was the first batch of beer we ever
brewed (back in January of this year), it didn't make it on the site because we didn't take
photos or track the process with notes.
This time around, we were prepared.
Starting out, we returned to the usual amount of
sanitizing - everything got a dip or wash in the sanitation
mixture of One Step No Rinse Cleanser and water. The
home brewer can never sanitize too much!
After everything was cleaned and sanitized, we began
transferring filtered water from the fridge, adding it one
glass at a time to the 6-gallon fermentation carboy.
Bringing that up to about two gallons of fresh, clean water,
we placed it into the fridge to cool down.
On the stove, we added about 3 gallons of filtered water
and brought the temperature up to the standard
grain-steeping level... about 150 to 155 degrees F. In
went the 1-pound boiling bag of DurstPilsen Malt grain.
Carefully watching the temperature, the grain bag steeped
for about 50 - 55 minutes. During that time, we clearly
couldn't let the two Warsteiner's we had in the fridge go to
Important: Do not add your grain bag until the
temperature of your water has risen to, and is holding
steady at 150 - 155 degrees F. Why? Well, if you
forget about monitoring your water for a few minutes, you
can always adjust for temperatures higher than 155 degrees
F. (by cooling, obviously). If the grain bag was
placed in the water as the temperature was rising, and you
step away for a minute, the grains may accidently steep at a
higher temperature and produce off-flavors.
After steeping, we removed the grain bag and placed it on
a strainer above a bowl (both sanitized, of course).
The temperature was quickly increased to a near boiling
point and removed from the heat. At this point, we
added our nearly 10 pounds of Briess Pilsen malt extract and
1 pound of light Belgium candi sugar.
Watching for a boil-over (which can be a messy
experience!), we returned the wort to the heat and brought
it to a gentle boil. After about 10 minutes into the
boil, the 3 ounces of Czech Saaz hops were added.
These are the bittering hops.
20 minutes later, we added the unused grain bag juice to
Another 40 minutes of boil and the wort was removed from
the heat. At that point the 1 ounce of flavoring hops
(same type as the earlier hops) was added.
We let the homebrew rest in a cold water bath for 5
minutes and then tossed in a few pounds of ice (filtered
water), in an attempt to drop the temperature down to 72-74
degrees F, or yeast-pitching temperature. In the past
this worked well, as the temperature dropped in less than
about 5 minutes. In the homebrew business (and all
beer brewing situations), its important to get the
temperature down to yeast-pitching temperature for one
primary reason - reduce the opportunity for bacteria or
foreign contaminants to enter the brew.
So, we were scratching our heads as to why our brew
didn't drop down in temperature like the last few batches
where we used a combination of cold water and ice. We
determined the problem was two-fold. First, we cooked
3 gallons of wort over heat, instead of two. And, we
had just two gallons of chilled water waiting instead of
three. We had it backwards! Good lesson.
As we are growing more and more serious in this homebrew
hobby, talk has begun about investing in a wort chiller -
basically a copper coil through which cold water flows,
chilling the wort in about 10 minutes. Looking at
about $75 for that, but I think its going to be worth it.
Unfortunately, we had to wait about five hours for the wort
to chill to 74 degrees. At that point, we took a
measurement with the hydrometer (which indicated a 9% abv), pitched the
yeast and shook the carboy vigorously. It was sealed
with an air lock and placed in a cool place with a towel
covering it to keep out light.
Note:The next day, we brewed another
Belgium beer, a standard Belgium Ale. It was at that
time we noticed we had a vial of White Labs Trappist Ale
Yeast, instead of Belgium Ale Yeast. That's when we
discovered we used the Belgium Ale Yeast yesterday in this
Tripel brew! So, we have to use the Trappist Ale Yeast
in the Belgium Ale we are brewing today. After further
research, the mistake was found on our recipe/instructions
sheet we got from the local brew store. They had the
wrong yeast listed. So, we'll
bring that to their attention.
The fermenting brew will remain in this cool location for 7 to 10 days, after which it
will be siphoned to a secondary fermentor (another glass
carboy). After 7 to 10 more days, we'll bottle.
Then, it's a matter of waiting. The longer the better.
As this is expected to be about 9% abv beer, it's treated
like wine, when storing. It will keep just fine up to
two years, and perhaps more. But, we know from
experience that it will be ready for consumption after about
2 weeks in the bottle. But, like I said, waiting 6
months or more is going to make it a better brew! Will
keep you posted.
August 11, 2012 - Fermentation started about
11-12 hours after the carboy was sealed, with a temperature
of 71-72 degrees F. Within an hour, it had become very
active, with the air-lock "bubbling" (releasing CO2) faster
than 1 per second. And, the temperature from the
brewing activity increased to about 74 degrees F. So,
we wrapped a dark towel around the brew and rested the edge
of the carboy over the central air AC vent. It is
mid-late summer so our AC keeps the house at a constant 70
degrees. The cool air blowing over the fermenting
carboy from the bottom is keeping the brew temp at 66 - 70
degrees F. A 2-inch head of foam formed as
well. We kept the dark towel around the carboy to
protect the fermenting home brew from light. Here are two images of fermentation
(without the towel) - the first
just as it started, and the second an hour later (notice the
dark spots on top of the foam in the second pic)...
Now, some 5 hours after initial fermentation began, the
temperature has fallen to about 71 degrees F (because of the
cool air from the central air vent). Here is a video
of this initial fermentation...
August 13, 2012 - It has been more than 2 days
since fermentation began, and this homebrew is still actively
August 14, 2012 - Fermentation has slowed to about
1 bubble per three seconds (20 per minute). Temperature is steady at about
70 degrees F. The idea of resting the edge of the
carboy on the central air vent is working perfectly at
keeping the temp at or just below 70.
August 15, 2012 - Five days after pitching yeast,
and 4 days after fermentation began, it is still active at
about 10 bubbles a minute. The color is a beautiful
yellowish-brownish. The temperature is steady at about
70 degrees F. One of the nicest things I like to do is
smell the release each time the air-lock plops up and down.
This Belgian Tripel homebrew smells fabulous!
August 18, 2012 - It has been a full week since
fermentation began. It has pretty much slowed to about
4 bubbles per minute.
So, we are going to let it rest for a few more days before
moving to the secondary fermentation carboy.
August 19, 2012 - 8 days and fermentation is still
slightly active. Temperature is steady around 70
degrees F. We are getting about 3 bubbles of the
air-lock every minute. The color is a pale
yellow and there are still signs of fermentation. The
yeast and sediment has not started to fall to the bottom of
the carboy as yet, and the brew is still cloudy with tiny
fermenting bubbles evident at the surface. This is the
longest we've seen fermentation continue with our home brews
and we attribute that to the cooler temperatures (it has
dropped to as low as 66 degrees), and possible the style of
yeast (Belgium Ale, instead of the required Trappist Ale).
Of course, the longer your fermentation activity, the better
August 20, 2012 - Will it ever end? This is
going to be an awesome brew. The high amount of sugars
available and the lower fermenting temperature of 68 - 70
degrees F has slowed the fermenting of this batch.
And, that's exactly what we prefer. We are still
getting a couple air-lock bubbles each minute. Instead
of fermenting rapidly at a higher temperature of 74 (like
the last batch), the slower fermenting generally will create
a better beer. Also, there will be less esters and
fruitiness, which are otherwise ok, when fermented at 68 -
70 F. This is what we prefer.
August 25, 2012 - Still going, and going, and
going, and.... Here is a pic of the fermenting
process, a full two weeks after fermentation began.
Temperature is steady at 68 - 70 degrees F.
August 27, 2012 - Temperature holding steady at 70 degrees
F. Air-lock bubbles about 2 times per minute.
August 29, 2012 - Nearly three weeks since pitching
the yeast, the home brew is still fermenting! We moved
it from the HVAC vent to increase the temperature slightly
to about 72 degrees F. We hoped this would hasten the
fermenting and bring it to a halt. But, it's still
going steady with about 2 bubbles per minute.
September 2, 2012 - The air-lock is plopping about 1
time per minute so we are going to be moving this delicate
homebrew to the secondary fermentation carboy today.
September 30, 2012 - After a four-week rest in the
secondary fermenter, we bottled the beer. We are going
to be really patient this go around and give this delicate,
high abv brew a good three months to bottle condition.
We expect to try it around Christmas, about 85 days from
Here are some better pics of the ingredients we used for