Friday, January 21, 2011

Homebrew Tasting: Dubbel with Figs and Dates

I'm not sure if it has been laziness or a concern that I don't want to over post but this will be my first tasting review. I read a good amount of other homebrewer blogs and I realized it is pretty important to have the results from each batch displayed. So I will try to post as many reviews as possible so if anyone ever decides to brew a similar recipe they will know what they might want to adjust based on my review of the finished product.

This beer is my Dubbel in which I added Black Mission Figs and Dates to the beer in secondary. The beer was left on the fruit for about 2 months.

There is mixed results, but this is more due to the Dubbel base beer than the figs/dates I added. The plain Dubbel came out alright but it had far too much banana ester for my liking. I think this was due to fermenting around 62 for too long. That must be the magic banana temperature for the Chimay yeast. Also I think my lack of oxygen in solution is really hurting me on my big beers. I think I'm getting plenty of yeast pitched, but not enough oxygen so the yeast can build up sterols before splitting. So I am getting some "hot" off flavors.

Appearance: Somehow lacked the great head these beers normally have. I forced carb this beer to around 3 Volumes (or probably not, so I may uncap these and add 2 carb tabs). Great rich amber but with some very small fig particles still in solution.

Aroma: Big Banana at first, then Sweet booze, then fruity figs (definitely more figs than base beer)
Taste: Follows the Aroma almost exactly, has the dark fruit I was looking for but the beer needs that touch of chocolate that is so good in commercial examples.

Mouthfeel: Medium and that is even with lacking the carbonation it needs.

Drinkability: I am pretty bothered by the banana ester, which I have become sensitive to. I think the dark fruit flavor is there. This beer is like a painting with a lot of paint that was just thrown on the canvas and hopefully some age will let me appreciate it.

1. Use Oxygen for anything over 1.060
2. Forget homemade syrup and use D2 next time to help with the chocolate notes
3. New yeast or different fermentation temperature to avoid the banana flavor
4. No need for dates, at least in this beer

Dubbel Recipe

Adding figs and dates


  1. I'm wondering about your banana flavor that you aren't fond of. I guess I'm surprised that at a temperature of 62, you're getting so much ester formation by the yeast; from what I understand, this is usually what you see when you ferment at higher temps (>70 degrees) rather than lower.

    How are you controlling your temperature? And for that matter, how are you measuring it? It may be that while the environment was at 62 degrees, the exothermic reaction within your primary fermenter caused your true fermentation temps to be much higher.

  2. I agree that at high temperatures you will get higher ester formation. But what I believe was happening with this beer is that this temperature range the banana ester is produced more than others and there is also very little phenol production to compete with the banana ester.
    However, the intensity of the banana ester dropped quite quickly and after 6 months was almost completely replaced with a bubble gum flavor.
    For temperature control, I just have the probe taped to the carboy with paper towels. I have not tested how accurate I am, but the fermentation chamber is well insulated and a tight fit. I doubt the temperature is too much higher because I have brewed a lot of beers with this system and usually produce the flavors I am looking for. I think I will eventually get a thermo-well maybe for Christmas.


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