Dissident or dissonance

Over the weekend, Joe and I split a bottle of Deschutes The Dissident, a Flanders Brown ale that is a boutique craze lately. It was really a wonderful beer, and I thank Joe for sharing.

One of the things that struck me about the beer is the variety of competing flavors that play in your mouth with each sip. At first I though dissonance was the right word to describe the beer. It’s a trait I enjoy in music, but it’s really not the right word. While there is a lot going on in the beer, the balance of all the flavors – the sours and fruity sweets – really find a harmony that’s very pleasing.


If I worked at the National Hurricane Center and my Belgian Dubbel was a tropical storm, I’d have to downgrade it to a 1. A tasty 1.

I bottled 6x22oz and 7x12oz then kegged the remaining 3ish gallons. It’ll be ready for thanksgiving, but it won’t be the complex delight I was hoping for. Stupid 100% humidity. This whole brewing experience was full of lessons that I didn’t know I needed to learn.

Make it a dubbel

I was about to post an update on my dubbel when I discovered I’d never actually posted anything about said beer. Anyway, back on November 1st, as a promise to my equipment, I brewed an all grain Belgian-style dubbel. I used this recipe from Barley Dog Brewery as a template and changed it a tad based on my desire to not include wheat, and to use hops I had on hand.

As an aside, Barley Dog Brewery is probably one of the coolest homebrew sites I’ve ever seen. The nerd in me loves the BeerXML exports, the DIYer in me loves the project lists, and the wannabe web designer loves the systematic integration of it all.

Anyway, here’s the recipe for a 6 gallon batch:

grain bill

  • 1lbs domestic Munich
  • 13lbs American two-row
  • 0.50lbs Belgian Special “B”
  • 0.50lbs Belgian biscuitGrain, Mashed
  • 1lbs Belgian candi sugar, amber
  • 0.50lbs Crystal 60L
  • 0.25lbs Chocolate malt


  • 0.5 oz Galena @ 60 minutes
  • 1oz Galena @ 10 minutes
  • 1oz Galena @ 5 minutes


  • Safbrew S-33 Belgian Ale yeast
  • Irish Moss

The original gravity is actually quite low because someone didn’t account for how little water would boil off when the humidity is @ 100%. I ended up with closer to 7 gallons at 1.058, which is now closer to 6 gallons at 1.014 as of transferring to secondary on Saturday.

BTW, my jaw still hurts from the candi sugar. Apparently the cartilage is damaged and I’m not supposed to move it much. My doctor father suggested a liquid diet of beer, and my attorney wife suggested slim-fast.

Making Belgian Candi Sugar

Last night I made candy, er, candi for the first time. I don’t have a candy, er, candi thermometer so I pulled out Michelle’s old school Better Homes & Gardens red check cookbook and found their cold water method, which involves dropping some of the hot sugar in to cold water then seeing how it reacts to touch. It wasn’t too important since I just boiled until it started to turn amber and let a little smoke billow from the splash-up on the sides. After it cooled, I poured it on to a foil covered tray and let it cool.

Note to self: Don’t eat the little bit you’ve dropped in to the cold water as it acts like epoxy on your teeth. I thought I lost a filling trying to get my jaws apart, and this morning I woke up with a sore face. All in the name of brewing.

Here’s a little gallery of the process.

Raw Sugar > Water/Sugar slurry (1lbs sugar, 1/2 cup h20, pinch of citric acid) > boiling sugar > amber sugar > cooling candi > broken pieces. Total cost? $2.

Second note to self: Next time make a syrup. The hunks of candi created a monster blob in the bottom of the kettle. They eventually returned to solution, but the syrup would be easier to manage.