DeKoninck & Lange Wapper

January 31, 2009

Constantly daydreaming about  Belgium and her fabulous bounty takes its toll. Your beard grows unabated, your family becomes increasingly concerned of the ragged gleam in your eyes, and like Cheever’s ill-fated swimmer, you might just leave the waspy cocktail party on a drunken mission, jump into the neighbor after neighbor’s pool, never to return. The Flemish people of Antwerp are steeped in folklore, and as I’m wondering if my obsession might destroy my life like Bluegrass destroyed John Fahey’s, I’m reminded of Lange Whapper, the giant fairy of the river Shelde, who would appear out of the fog to the late-night drunks along the cobblestone streets and punish them for their multitude of sins against the fairy-people.

Lange Wapper, appearing menacingly to a couple of hapless souls, notice the jug in the hand of the guy on the left.Lung Wapper, Appearing Menacingly to a couple of hapless souls

My good friend Nick Falivenra keeps asking me for a good Saison extract and steeping grains recipe for, but I can’t recommend that anyone use those Saison yeasts in the winter because of their tendency to underattenuate and take forever to get the job done when nurtured with sub-80 degree temps. My friend Andy just fermented out his Saison with a hot plate underneath, and even them he hard time getting it to get below 1.020, which is the same experience I had with the Wyeast Saison yeast, even with a gallon starter and hundred degree Sacramento summer heat.

Instead, I will post a Belgian Pale Ale, that like the best Saisons, is a study in balance, with a skronky malt backbone that gives way to delightfully fruity yet dry finish. This recipe is based on Jamil Zainasheff’s clone of De Koninck, the daily beer of the people of Antwerp.  The Mt. Hood hops in the recipe aren’t to style, but they’ve been resonating in all my thirst quenchers lately, like autumn leaves floating in a pool, wavering among the reflections of the stormclouds up above. Plus, the Kent Goldings he suggests are all but extinct in these parts these days.

Lange Wapper

(Antwerp Pale Ale)

5 gallons (extract plus grains)

OG = 1.053

FG = 1.013

IBU = 29

SRM = 8

ABV = 5.3%


7lb Pilsner Liquid Malt

10 oz Caramunich Malt (60 Lovibond)

4 oz Biscuit Malt (25 Lovibond)

1.5 oz Mount Hood 5% a.a. pellet hops (60 min)

.5 oz Mount Hood 5% a.a (0 min)

Wyeast 3655 (Belgian Schelde) Yeast

Drinking out of a Bolleke, the flemish word for bowl and official glass of De Koninck

Beer Lore: Orval

January 21, 2009

Orval, Trappist Ale

Orval, Trappist Ale

According to local legend, and displayed somewhat enigmatically upon “Queen of the Trappist” minimal purple gold and silver label, Mathilde of Tuscany, not one of those Brueghalian peasants mind you, but a real italian beauty, dropped her wedding ring, given to her by her dearest knight in shining armour or some shit, into the local river, and this ring was promptly swallowed by a trout. So she prays to the local saint, like you do, for the return of the token of her truest love. Said fish, driven by God’s mysterious ways, coughs it up, along with the recipe and the funds for this grandiose beverage. Needless to say, with its trademark candied sugar, dryhops, and monk funk, all wrapped in loving embrace, this beer is certainly a gift from the gods. Up until recently, I couldn’t find Orval anywhere this side of the Atlantic. Now, she’s starting to pop up, by the bottle, for around five bucks a pop, at local fine food and beverage stores everywhere. Just don’t get too glum about the price tag. If we can believe the catholic church, all proceeds go to charity.

Unimaginably dry and crisp yet with a hint of sweet malt palate that one only gets from those finest lightest trappist beverages. If monks mowed lawns and I’m sure they do, this is what they’d drink after composting their clippings. Brewed with Pilsner malt, with a slow stepping up mash schedule to get that malt complexity, as well as minute amounts of Caravienne or Caramunich Malt for that deft sweet flourish, and a trace of what to me tastes like purple spiderwebs in the finish, the lurking whiff of Brettanomyces, the holy bacteria of monk funk, lurking in the background

By the sixth bottle of Orval, I realize that beautiful epiphany of the monk drunk, that the candied sugar ferments out nearly completely, giving this beer the treacherous sneaky quality of all divine hallucinations. An excercise in balance and subtlety, the Brett character reminds me of the husky geuzes, but without that tongue splitting aftertaste that makes so many novice beer drinkers cringe. How do they do this?  I feel as if I am destined to try and brew this with different yeast combinations for the rest of my life, and if I come anywhere close — I’m goddamned sure the lord will strike me down with blasphemy, or better yet, some militant Belgian monks hellbent on protecting the holy grail will come and kill me with sub-machine guns, curved knifes and speed boats. So hells yes, this is worth five bucks a lil’ bottle, but don’t be a bitch, and buy at least twelve, so your own pale-skinned red-haired girl can find solace in the divinity of your love token. She might say, as the legend goes, “Truly this place is a Val d’Or

Best Orval Clone Recipe according to much lauded MarkR of the wonderful forums.

Batch Size (Gal): 5.50 Wort Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.13
Anticipated OG: 1.056 Plato: 13.83
Anticipated SRM: 5.7
Anticipated IBU: 45.8
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Pre-Boil Amounts

Evaporation Rate: 15.00 Percent Per Hour
Pre-Boil Wort Size: 7.10 Gal
Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.043 SG 10.83 Plato

Formulas Used

Brewhouse Efficiency and Predicted Gravity based on Method #1, Potential Used.
Final Gravity Calculation Based on Points.
Hard Value of Sucrose applied. Value for recipe: 46.2100 ppppg
Yield Type used in Gravity Prediction: Fine Grind Dry Basis.

Color Formula Used: Morey
Hop IBU Formula Used: Rager

Additional Utilization Used For Plug Hops: 2 %
Additional Utilization Used For Pellet Hops: 10 %


% Amount Name Origin Potential SRM
79.0 8.00 lbs. Pilsen (2 Row) France 1.039 2
11.1 1.13 lbs. CaraVienne Malt Belgium 1.034 22
9.9 1.00 lbs. Turbinado Sugar Generic 1.046 0

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.


Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time
1.75 oz. Hallertauer Tradition Pellet 4.30 34.9 75 min.
1.00 oz. Styrian Goldings Pellet 5.00 7.3 20 min.
1.00 oz. Styrian Goldings Pellet 5.00 3.6 5 min.
1.57 oz. Styrian Goldings Pellet 5.00 0.0 0 min.
2.00 oz. Styrian Goldings Pellet 5.00 0.0 Dry Hop


White Labs WLP510 Bastogne Belgian Ale


Fermentation should be kept as close to 59F as possible.

Pitch a tube of White Labs WLP650 – Brettanomyces bruxellensis into the secondary. Allow at least a month for the funk to work its magic before bottling.

Bottle with a small starter of the primary yeast strain.