Last Brew of the Year – Belgian Golden Tripel Ale

2009 was a tremendous year for me, in terms of brewing. I brewed some of the best beers of my life this past year, and got back into the home brew supply business, taking over the home brew department at a local cooperative market. I decided to end the year with a bang, brewing a big (maybe HUGE) Belgian Tripel on New Year’s Eve.


  • 10 lbs. Belgian pale malt
  • 1 lb. malted wheat
  • 1 lb. Cara-pils malt
  • 1 lb. light Belgian candi sugar
  • 5 HBU’s Perle hop pellets (6.0% aa)
  • 2.1 HBU’s Styrian Goldings hop pellets (4.2% aa)
  • 2 HBU’s Saaz hop pellets (4.0% aa)
  • White Labs WLP570 Belgian Golden Ale yeast
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar (for priming)

The night before brewing, crush the 12 lbs. of grain.  On brew day, heat 16 qts. water to 165°F and mash in, reaching a temperature of 151°F. Hold the mash at 151°F for 90 minutes. Heat 14 quarts of water to 170°F and then begin runoff. Collecte 27 qts. of sweet wort and add the candi sugar. Bring the wort to boiling and add 2 HBU’s (1/3 oz.) Perle pellets. After 45 minutes add 2/1 HBU’s (1/2 oz.) Styrian Goldings pellets. After another 15 minutes (60 total so far) add 3 HBU’s (1/2 oz.) Perle. After an additional 15 minutes (75 total) add 2 HBU’s (1/2 oz.) Saaz pellets and continue boiling for another 15 minutes. Shut off heat after a total of 90 minutes. Chill the wort to 85°F (10 minutes from boiling to 85°), pour it into a sanitized 6-gallon fermenting bucket, take a hydrometer reading and pitch the Belgian Golden Ale yeast.

Original Gravity: 1080 The ale is now sitting at a room temperature of 64°F.

Brewing notes: I had intended to put 1/4 oz. of Perle at each of the two points in the boil but I spilled about 1/8 oz. of pellets into the gas flame on the stove top. Rather than repackage and keep a minuscule quantity of hops, I opted to put in the remaining whole package, minus the burning pellets under the kettle. The kitchen smelled like a Grateful Dead concert for a few minutes, if you know what I mean…

Style notes: A very strong golden ale, emphasis on the malt and aclohol, hop bitterness is a balance but not an overwhelming flavor. The use of candi sugar (derived from beet sugar, usually used in crystal or rock form) adds to the strength of the beer without darkening the color or adding to the body. Belgian Tripels are primarily brewed by the Trappist monasteries and the licensed Abbey breweries throughout Belgium. What’s the difference between “Trappist” beers and “Abbey” beers? Trappist beers can only legally be brewed at one of the seven actual brewing monasteries (Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren and Achels, in Belgium, and La Trappe in the Netherlands); Abbey beers are brewed at secular commercial breweries, often (but not always) under license of a monastery that used to brew but no longer does so (Leffe and Grimbergen are examples of the latter). “Tripel” denotes a beer of high alcohol content, usually the strongest in a range, although a couple Belgian brewers make an occasional “Quadrupel”. In theory, traditional Trappist brewers made three different beers from the same mash. The first was naturally the strongest, and was marked with a XXX; the second, less potent, and often darker, was marked XX; the third, marked, if at all, with a single X, was the everyday table beer for the monks.

Bottling notes: 3/4 – I have added a photo of the beer in bottles – I opted for large Belgian bottles with corks and wires. Now to wait for it to be ready…