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Beer Review #163 Otto Ale

I briefly mentioned Otto Ale in my last post and today I am going to review it. Otto Ale comes from Victory Brewing Company out of Downingtown, PA and it is a mix of a rauchbier and a Belgian dubbel.  I honestly don’t remember by last dubbel review, but I do remember my last rauchbier review. Smokey beers are slowly growing on me, but we still have a ways to go before we can be considered friends. The idea of this beer came from a trip to Germany in 1987 by the owners of Victory Ron and Bill. I guess they thought that the two types of beer would make a good blend and decided to produce this beer.

Otto Ale pours a deep ruby color with a full off-white head. The nose is very smoky and roasty. It has a BBQ quality to it, but it isn’t overwhelming. I did get a slight bit of malt along with some Belgian yeast “twinge” but the smoke washed out most of what was there.

The taste is, not surprisingly, smoky and roasty. This beer is very light up front with bits of Belgian spices in there. I also found some deep, rich caramels as well. While this beer looks like it would be dark and heavy, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It sits very lightly in your mouth and has bold, but not overpowering flavors.

This beer is smoky, but not to the point where it is totally dominant. I really liked the balance struck in this beer between the smoky, Belgian spices, and the malt. Coming in at 8.1% ABV this is a great sipping beer that gets better with some warmth.

Belgian Dubbel bottling

08-28-01I brewed my Belgian Dubbel on the 15 of August and got around to bottling it on Wednesday the 26th. All of the fermentation was complete and the beer just smelled wonderful. This is the first beer I have bottled in the new digs so it was a bit of guess and check to find the proper routine. I did eventually find something that worked for me. I also happened to use a lot of new products when I bottled this time.

I started off by putting 5 gallons of water into my bottling bucket. I then added the correct amount of Iodophor Sanitizer. This is the second beer that I have used this stuff on. The first one would be the Tripel. I also tossed a bunch of bottles into the bucket to get them sanitized. 08-28-02After a minute or so (I actually left them in for 5 just to be safe) I pulled them out and put them on the dishwasher rack. Then I put a new round of bottles in and repeated the steps. Finally I threw in my auto-siphon, hose, and bottle filler. I poured a gallon and a half of the sanitizer solution into a smaller bucket just so I had some on hand.

08-28-03I then got the beer out of the closet and started transferring it to the bottling bucket. In all it took about 5 minutes to transfer all of the beer over. Once transferred, I put the bottling bucket on the counter with the bottle filler handing over the edge. Grabbing my bottles I put carbonation drops into them. This is the first time I have used these and I am anxious to see the results. The package said put 3 for low carbonation, 4 for regular carbonation, and 5 for high carbonation. These drops are made up of corn sugar, heading powder, and a few other ingredients. I opted for 4 tabs, mainly because I want to get the Tripel done from the same packet. 08-28-04

So now the beer is being carbonated and should be ready to drink by next weekend. The final beer came out to 5.9% which falls .1 points away from the minimum alcohol percentage for the style. Do I care? Not really, they are just guidelines. I am pretty happy with it. If Austin Homebrew Supply hadn’t shorted me the 1/2 pound of grain, I would of easily fallen into the correct range. A review of the beer should be coming once it is ready to drink. I already like it raw, I can’t wait to drink it carbonated.

Belgian Dubbel Recipe

08-14-02The evil homebrew monkeys are churning in my head. I already have the Triple going and I am planning on racking it to the secondary this weekend so getting the most out of my yeast sounds like a good idea. I have the space in my fermenters right now to make an additonal beer and I am still on my Belgian kick so this seems perfect. I am going to make a nice dark, malty, and spicy Belgian Dubbel.

Part of my want to make this beer (other than reusing yeast) came from the May/June 2009 addition of Zymurgy. In it they say, “It was a sight to behold: glistening ruby highlights; a thick, creamy head; aromas of malt and caramel; sweet, but with a dry finish; hints of dark fruit and spices.” O my, that sounds wonderful.

08-14-01I loosely based my recipe off of some research and some of the recipies that the magazine provided. I also only wanted to make a small batch, like a case worth. Below is the recipe that I decided on.

  • 5.5 pounds of Belgian Pale malt
  • 6 oz Belgian Special B malt
  • 4 oz Munich malt
  • 4 oz Caramunich malt
  • 4 oz wheat malt
  • 1/2 pound of Amber Belgian Candy sugar
  • .5 oz Styrian Goldings hops (60 mins)
  • 1 oz Saaz hops (15 mins)
  • WYeast 1214 (reused from Belgian Tripel)

I’m shooting for a gravity of 1.062 which is on the low end of the style guidlelines. A 6.13% abv will be a nice compliment to the Tripel and I am not looking for alcohol notes in this beer like I was for the Tripel. A bitterness of 20 IBUs falls right in the middle of the style guidelines. This beer is going to be darker than what the guidelines call for but I don’t really care that much. The upper end of the Lovibond scale is 17°L, this beer is expected to come in at 21°L so it isn’t a drastic difference. The only thing that should change a bit are those “ruby highlights” that Zymurgy talked about.

The Tripel is coming along nicely. There is a nice smell and spicyness to it currently. I am just waiting for the gravity to drop a bit more. I will update on the Tripel when I rerack it and a Dubbel brewday post should soon follow.