Brew News | The Black Strap

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

The Black Strap has been brewed to a new and improved recipe which is more 'true to style'. It has fermented down to 1012 SG, where it will now undergo maturing for a month and lagering for another 2 weeks. We are aiming for a July launch.

Improvements made:

  • Removal of dark roasted malts. Addition of caramelised malts. Colour is lower - Now a deep Brown.

  • Slightly increased IBU. from 20 to 23

  • Molasses increased to help achieve a dryer finish.

  • Lower starting fermentation temperature of 18°C to reduce harsh alcohol tastes given off by the yeast.

  • Bottle conditioned. So this contains yeast. Careful as you pour!

  • The beer will go hazy at low temperatures (fridge temperatures). This is a chill haze, it doesn't affect flavour.

Abbey Style

The Black Strap, our 'Abbey Style' Belgian Dubbel.

To break this down, a Dubbel or "double" is a beer that has double the strength (6%-8%) of a standard (3%-4%) strength beer. First brewed in Belgium in the 1850s. Dubbels are characteristically known for being dark brown in colour with a strong flavour of dark fruit including raisins, prunes, and dates. These flavours and colours are almost entirely resultant from the heavy addition of highly caramelized beet sugar, which ferments completely into alcohol, lightening the body of the finished beer and contributing to its dry finish. The caramelization of the beet sugar is also the major contributor of Maillard flavours including chocolatey, caramel, and nutty tones that give the Dubbel its wide gamut of flavour complexity. Because of the special strains of ale yeast used in their production, Dubbels often carry a mild spice; coriander and black pepper are notable examples in traditional Belgian Dubbels.

Abbey Style beers are beers produced in the styles made famous by Belgian Trappist monks, but not actually brewed within the walls of a monastery.

On the other hand, Beer produced within the walls of a Trappist monastery, by a Trappist monk, in a monastic way and not for profit can be marketed as a 'Trappist Beer'.

Monastery brewhouses, from different religious orders, have existed across Europe since the Middle Ages. Today, in 2020, there are 14 Trappist Breweries - six in Belgium, two in the Netherlands, and one each in Austria, Italy, England, France, Spain, and the United States. All of these breweries are members of the "International Trappist Association" (ITA) and brandish its "Authentic Trappist Product" logo (ATP).

In the twentieth century, the growing popularity of Trappist beers led some brewers with no connection to the association, to label their beers "Trappist". Only associated members can use the ATP Logo.

The Black Strap

We do not practice any traditional monastic ways or pretend to have any Trappist monks in our employment. However, what we do have is some authentic Trappist yeast which has been used by Trappist breweries for hundreds of years. This yeast comes from one, in particular, Brouwerij der Trappisten van Westmalle (Westmalle Brewery), who produces the famous Westmalle Dubbel. A great beer in our eyes.

The Black Strap is made with Molasses, which is one of the darker grades of sugar taken from a sugar beet plant. Black Strap Molasses is the result of boiling and reducing regular molasses. Unlike highly refined sugars, molasses contains significant amounts of vitamin B6 and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese; one tablespoon provides up to 20% of the recommended daily value of each of those nutrients. Blackstrap is also a good source of potassium. Blackstrap molasses has long been sold as a dietary supplement. Though it has to be said we have not tested for any health benefits from the consumption of the Black Strap Abbey Style Dubbel.

The rest of the recipe is pretty standard with Pilsner malt for the base malt and about 20% caramelised malt. Tettnang hops give just the right amount of bittering to compensate the sweetness from the rich sugars and kilned malts. The yeast does a big job for flavour profile adding a complex mix of phenolic spiciness and fruity esters while drying the sweetness to a point which weaves the tastes together, leaving a malty presence.