Sunday, May 13, 2012

Golden Raisin Dubbel

One of the best places to get interesting and rare beers in San Diego closed its doors last year. South Bay Drugs in Imperial Beach on Palm Avenue got forced out of their location in an eminent domain dispute after inhabiting the space for 28 years.  The store provided prescriptions, minor sundries, and most importantly an excellent selection of craft beer.  The owner's son, Geoi, is an avid supporter of craft beer and his collection of beers was stellar.  Geoi shared many different rare and interesting bottles with me, but a few months before they were forced to vacate, he gave me a 3 year old bottle of Rochefort 8.  It smelled of candi sugar and maple with some small vegetal notes mixed in.  Its taste was sweet but far from cloying, with plenty of soft fruit (big raisin, fig, plum) flavors and even some caramel/toffee present.

Golden Raisin Dubbel in the chamber.
I made a dubbel yesterday with that specific beer in mind.  In working on the recipe, I wanted real complexity and big aroma/taste throughout.  The recreation of that raisin/plum flavoring was also important to me, as it made a huge impression on my palate, and lends itself well to the style when included in modicum quantities.  I was influenced significantly by Tomme Arthur's Dubbel recipe in Brew Like A Monk by Stan Hieronymus.  In tasting some of Tomme's beers for Lost Abbey I like the soft fruit presence, but think that it often gets taken too far.  Golden Raisin Dubbel should be dark and smooth with deeply complex flavor and a small alcohol bite to it.  The flavors from the golden raisins should be present from the start but mature and ripen with age; hopefully they won't be overpowering.  I chose to ferment with WLP500 Trappist Ale Yeast as opposed to WLP530 Abbey Ale Yeast in order to help accentuate the desirable fruit characteristics.  I anticipate aging this beer a little longer than most.

South Bay Drugs has relocated to Normal Heights and has gained new life.  Their new name is Bine & Vine Bottle Shop.  I have no illusions about my dubbel being comparable to that aged Rochefort 8, but I still need to set aside a bottle of it for Geoi.


  1. I opened this bottle yesterday while Aydan was watching a movie and I have a couple thoughts on the beer that I wanted to share.

    Aroma: Ripe figs, plums and a developed sweetness fill the nose.

    Appearance: Midnight brown, mysterious. Not black like a stout, thick dark tanish bubbles formed about and inch thick atop the glass.

    Flavor: Grape skin balancing with the sweetness of Raisins. (I'm glad that the raisins do not overpower the complexity of this beer.) Stone fruit flavors dominate, creating a very smooth, low alcohol bite.

    Mouthfeel: Lower, robust carbonation, on the thicker side which complements the style. Finishes very dry and clean.

    Overall: Cleanly fermentated. Well presented beer. Makes me want to brew more "outside the norm" category beers

    1. I appreciate that review and I'm glad that you liked it. You and I have had the conversation about going too far with raisins and similar fruits in a beer, and I think I used just the right amount of restraint on this one. I think in a rebrew, I'd try and dry it out even more.


Have something to say?