Westy Blonde Clone

Westvleteren 12 is said to be one of the best trappist beers in the world. It is produced by the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus in Vleteren, Belgium. On our last European adventure (and second adventure with Oliver), we visited the abbey-owned cafe and visitor centre called In de Vrede, which is across the street from the monastery.
We have tried all three of the beers: the blonde (5.6% ABV), the Westvleteren 8 (formerly called Extra; 8% ABV), and the Westvleteren 12 (formerly called Abc; 10.2% ABV). I personally love the Westvleteren Blonde the best. Due to my preference and because both the Westvleteren 8 and Westvleteren 12 are bottle conditioned (something we have yet to attempt), our next beer on the docket was to attempt to clone the Westvleteren Blonde.

This brew was adapted from The Mad Fermentationist and BeerSmith recipes.

 

Westvleteren Blonde Clone

Recipe:
6 lbs Belgium Pale Ale
3 lbs Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner Malt
½ lb Weyermann Acidulated Malt
1 oz German Northern Brewer (5.3 aa)
1 oz German Hallertau (2.7 aa)
2 oz Styrian Goldings (5.7 aa)
¾ lb granulated sugar
Yeast: Safale BE-134 Belgian (dry)
1 tablet whirlflock
Gypsum, if needed

Total grain bill: 9.5 lbs (10.25 lbs with sugar)

Process:

  1. Heat 4 gallons of water at 147°F (63.9°C)
  2. Mash for 60 minutes
  3. Check pH during mash, adjust pH to 5.2-5.5 using acidulated malt and gypsum
  4. Mashout at 165°F (73.9°C) for 20 minutes
  5. Sparge 3.5 gallons (13.25 L) to 6.5 gallons (24.6 L).
    Target SG=1.053
    If SG is a bit lower (1.047), add sugar to increase the SG.
    In our experience, 0.25 lbs of sugar increased SG by ~0.0025
  6. Boil for 75 minutes
    Hop 1 @ 60 minutes: 1 oz German Northern Brewer
    Hop 2 @ 20 minutes: 1 oz German Hallertau
    Hop 3 @ 12 minutes: 2 oz Styrian Goldings
    Target OG=1.063
  7. Rehydrate 1 sachet of yeast in 1 cup (250 mL) room temperature water
  8. Oxygenate wort in fermentation vessel as much as possible
  9. Pitch yeast at 68°F (20°C). Target volume = 5.5 gallons (20.8 L)
  10. Allow fermentation vessel to warm up to 76°F (24.4°C)
  11. Primary for 1 week, secondary for 2 weeks

BrewDay Notes:
We accidentally added 1 lb of acidulated malt to the water (good thing it was the first thing we put in the tank). We scooped out what we thought was half of the malt.
We therefore ended up with a pH of 3.2.
We sparged with 2¾ gallons (10.4 L) because we were concerned about hitting a specific SG. We sparged to 5.5 gallons (21 L) with a SG=1.054.
We transferred 4.25 gallons (17 L) of wort into the fermentation vessel with an OG=1.063.
After 5 days in fermentation vessel, we transferred beer into a corny keg and force carbonated to 7 psi. We then placed the keg into the kegerator for its secondary.

Tasting Notes:
Nose: banana, wheat, almond, hint of footy
Palate: pleasant sweetness, hint of clove, orchard fruit (apple, pear)
Finish: fairly dry, bit of “funk” though not unpleasant, no lingering flavors
7% ABV

Final Thoughts:
We love this beer. It is not exactly Westvleteren Blonde, but it is a great tribute and has a nice Belgian flavor to it. 
The ABV is a bit on the high side, but the beer is still an easy-drinker. 
We’d love another go at this. Next time, we would sparge with 3.75 gallons