I have a little trouble getting my bearings when it comes to clone recipes, so maybe I should just keep my mouth shut. These things, after all, are facts:
- People buy “Brew Like a Monk” or “Brewing with Wheat” because they want to make a beer just like Chimay White or Schneider Aventinus, and I like it when people by my books. Although they don’t contain clone recipes, they have pretty much all the information you need to write your own.
- The least favorable review of BLAM at Amazon.com comes from a reader who was disappointed the book didn’t include clones recipes.
- Books like CloneBrews, 2nd Edition: Recipes for 200 Brand-Name Beers will consistently outsell mine.
I don’t expect that to change, so please don’t consider what follows sour grapes. The other day I flipped through the second edition of CloneBrews at the bookstore, curious what beers are included and about the recipe details. OK, and to see if they perpetuate the myth about clear candi sugar, a discussion we don’t need to revisit.
I was really surprised to see the yeast strain suggested for fermenting Westmalle Tripel is Wyeast 1214, for the simple reason that strain came originally from Chimay (a long time ago, so the Wyeast and Chimay versions wouldn’t be quite the same today). After all, Wyeast sells a strain that originated with Westmalle (3787). I was even more surprised to see Wyeast 1762 suggested as the second choice, since that one came out of Rochefort and its characteristic flavors and aromas are quite different.
(The quick and dirty technical details: Both 3787 and 1214 produce both more of the ester isoamyl acetate — banana and other fruits — and the phenol 4-vinyl guaiacol than 1762. Details.)
The bottom line is that were I trying to clone Westmalle Tripel I’d use Wyeast 3787, White Labs WL530 or see what I could talk Brewing-Science Institute out of.
And as long as I am at it, a few other suggestions. CloneBrews version would produce a 9% abv beer, although the Westmalle label says it is 9.5% and a bottle checked in a lab in 2004 was 9.6%. The CB recipe suggests aiming for a beer with 27 bittering units, while the lab-tested version had 39. And the recipe stipulates a starting gravity between 1.086 and 1.088, a finish at 1.015-1.016.
However, Westmalle begins at 1.081 (19.6 ºP) and finishes at 1.008 (2 ºP). That’s a lot drier, particularly coupled with the additional hops, and a lot more digestible.
I prefer the Westmalle approach. You might like a little sweeter (less attenuated) beer, which is OK. And which reminds me why I don’t mess with clone recipes.