10

I thought this would make for an interesting question because Westvleteren 12 has now earned a mythic ethos. They've given their product a mystique that's driven up demand to a huge degree, and caused people to go to great lengths to get their hands on it.

That said, after having a few of them, and then comparing to the plentiful Rochefort 10 that I can find in most liquor stores around my city, I don't see a heck of a lot of difference between the two beers. So what I wonder is what features of Westvleteren 12 actually distinguish it from a Rochefort 10? Not necessarily why it's better, but in what ways and to what degree they are actually different beers.

Some leading questions:

  1. Does the brewing process differ?
  2. Do ingredients differ?
  3. Anything else?
2

1) While largely the same (make wort, ferment, bottle/keg) the two beers you list are made by different companies. Therefore, you can assume they will at least claim they have proprietary brewing methods. There is a reason why people try cloning beers with some successes but mostly fails.

2) Most definitely just look at This Westvleteren 12 Clone Recipe and instruction* compared to This Rochefort Trappistes 10 Clone Recipe**.

3) If you want to learn about the subtleties in beer and what types of hops/yeast/adjunct additions/etc influence beer and their flavors - pick a topic and branch out. There are SO MANY THINGS that can change the flavor of a beer for better and for worse. There are courses and schools to help (google local beer eductaion)... Or, if you aren't sure where to start look at sites like Cicerone Certidications (think Wine Sommelier, or The Beer Judge Certification Program.

*Information taken from first link

Ingredients:

12.5 lbs Dingemann's Belgian Pilsner
2.00 lbs Dingemann's Belgian Pale
0.10 lbs Belgian Debittered Black
0.15 lbs Belgian Special B
3.00 lbs D-180 Candi Syrup (The Candi Syrup, Inc. D-180 syrup NOT the D2 syrup from darkcandi. Only the D-180 will produce an authentic Westy 12)
8.0 gallons (filtered)
Brewers Gold 1.00oz 60 min
Hersbrucker 1.00oz 30 min
Styrian Goldings 1.00oz 15 min
White Labs WL530 & Westmalle strain (2.0 liter starter)
1 cap of servomyces
2 tsp gypsum

Adding 2 liters of yeast is clearly incorrect. We couldn't contact the author of the recipe so here is the recommended yeast from another site.

Wyeast 3787 and White Labs WLP 530 (both Westmalle Strains) should be added right away

Wyeast 1388 (Duvel) and White Labs 550 (Le Chouffe) should be added on day 3

Wyeast 3787 and White Labs WLP 530 (both Westmalle Strains) should be added right away

Wyeast 1388 (Duvel) and White Labs 550 (Le Chouffe) should be added on day 3

Additional Instructions Primary Ferment: 7 days Secondary Ferment: Until FG is reached

Beer Profile Original Gravity: 1.090 Final Gravity: 1.012 Alcohol by Vol: 10.21% Recipe Type: all-grain Yield: 5.00 Gallons

THE MASH AND BOIL:

Use 2 tsp Gypsum in mash water. Initial protein rest at 138F for 30 minutes. Low decoction saccharification at 152F 30 minutes. High decoction saccharification at 156F for 30 minutes. 90 minute boil. 1 cap of Servomyces 10 minutes before flameout. Add 3 lbs D-180 Candi Syrup, Inc Belgian style candi yrup 3 minutes prior to flame-out. Note: you will not get the flavor of a true Westvleteren 12 unless you use this particular syrup. It is out of this world!

FERMENTATION:

Chill wort to 65F. Pitch yeast starter. Let rise to 83F over 5 days and bottom heat until gravity is 1.018, (can be up to 2 weeks). Agitate if necessary to invigorate yeast. Decant to glass secondary. Let ferment for 2 more weeks in glass at 65-70F. Move to cooler rack location and let ferment 8 more weeks.

BOTTLING:

Create a fresh stir-plate 2 liter yeast pitch using high quality Pils wort. Decant to 500ml. Boil 152 grams dextrose with 1 pint water. Cool and add to bottling fermenter. Decant ale to bottling fermenter and pitch yeast. Stir well then stir well again :) Bottle leaving 1 inch from top of long neck. Let prime for 3 weeks at 78-80F. Move to cellar temps and let chill for 6 months at 55-60F. Drink after 6 months to 1 year.

**Information taken from second link Ingredients:

12lb Belgian Pilsner

1lb Flaked Wheat

1.125lb CaraVienne

1.125lb CaraMunich

0.25lb Carafa III

2.25lb D2 Belgian Candi Syrup

1.5lb Amber Belgian Candi Syrup

6 AAU Styrian Goldings (80min)

4 AAU Hallertauer Hersbrucker (10min)

0.5oz Coriander (10min)

Servomyces (10min)

Irish Moss (10min)

Wyeast 1762

Decoction mash 122 (rest 10 min) 153 (rest 60 min) 170 (mashout)

Recipe Volume: 5.5 gallons Boil Time: 90 min OG: 1.098 FG: 1.014 ABV: 11.2% IBU: 27 SRM: 44

Additional information: Pitch yeast at 68, let rise to 73, when fermentation is near complete, rack to secondary, cold condition for 6+ weeks, repitch yeast and add sugar and bottle condition.

Here is what I know about Rochefort 10 and some notes regarding this recipe:

  • Pilsner and belgian caramel malts are the grains used (according to BLAM and Sean Paxton). CaraVienne and CaraMunich are two possible belgian caramel malt choices. They only use one belgian caramel malt but which one they use is a secret so I figured it would be best to use a little of each (Sean Paxton does the same in his clone).
  • Carafa III is used mainly for some color (the candi syrup isn't dark enough alone) and for some aroma and body and flavor stability.
  • It isn't possible to get the real light and dark candy sugar used by Rochefort and I feel that D2 and amber candi syrup are the highest quality and closest we can get.
  • Sugars are reportedly 20% of the fermentables (as they are in my recipe)
  • Rochefort says they use wheat starch (used to be corn) which should add some dryness and some head retention and body. Sean Paxton says it is about 5% of the fermentables (as it is my recipe).
  • Sean Paxton claims they use 3 step mash is used with a protein rest at 122 and a saccharification rest in the "mid-low 150s". 153 seemed to be a good number in the mid-low 150s.
  • While Rochefort likely doesn't use a decoction mash, I've found that decoction mashes give better efficiency, better flavor, and better fementability for a minimal amount of additional effort.
  • The bittering hops are the "traditional belgian hops". I'm guessing Styrian Goldings. The flavor hops are a German hop. I'm guessing Hallertauer Hersbrucker. The hops are fairly subtle in this beer so those guesses are likely close enough if they aren't correct.
  • Rochefort centrifuges and bottles rather quickly but since most homebrewers don't have access to a centrifuge, 6 weeks of cold conditioning should suffice.
  • A starter should be used, but should be slightly under-pitched in order to get the yeast to produce the desire esters.
  • Still not sure on the amount of flavor hops vs bittering hops but IBUs should be 27 according to BLAM.
  • I'm tempted to pitch colder at 65 and let rise to 80 as I do with Westmalle yeast but I'm not sure if that will work with Rochefort yeast or if I'll get horrible fusel alcohols. For now, I'll try 68-73 as Rochefort does.
  • Rochefort ferments beers on top of older beers. I wonder if this is possible to replicate by starting with pitching into just 1/4 of the wort and adding an additional 1/4 more wort each day for three days. Probably not worth experimenting with this on the first attempt but might help with attenuation.

Sorry for the different formatting- the recipes came from different sites with different standards.

  • Side note: BLAM = Brew Like A Monk (kind of like the go-to resource for Abbey/Trappist/Belgian beers) – BryceH Jul 5 '16 at 17:14

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