Rochefort 10 is my favourite beer, it is all figgy and rummy, it is strong but it doesn’t burn. A sentence from a review I read has stuck with me; “it is a beer that cries out to be the last of the evening”. I have a small amount of it from last year’s visit to Belgium, it is around 1 year old. I decided to try to brew something similar. In another post I have enthused about Stan Hieronymous’ fantastic book “Brew Like a Monk”, and that is pretty much my sole authority for attempting to brew something like this beer. Here are the vital stats that Stan has managed to wrest from the monastic secrecy that shrouds St. Remy. The OG is 1.096. The ABV is 11.3%, which means a whoping 89% attenuation, the FG must be something like 1.011. I know from Mr Malty that Wyeast Belgian Abbey II is at least based on Rochefort’s yeast, althought it is likely that Rochefort’s yeast is more complex. However Wyeast state that the attenuation is only 73-77%. We shall see, but that’s a serious difference in attenuation.
As far as the rest goes, what we know from Stan is that the IBU is 27, the hops are Hallertau and Styrian Goldings, the malts are Pilsener and Caramel, and there is white and dark sugar and also wheat starch as adjuncts. Furthermore the colour was 90 EBC. On the basis of these facts I constructed the following recipe
Grains: 6KG Pils, .5KG Crystal (120L), .6KG Special B, .6KG Flaked Wheat, .3KG Black Malt
Adjunct: .5KG Demerara Sugar, .5KG Soft Dark Sugar (added to boil t-20mins)
1tsp coriander seed, 8 mins
Hops: 65G EKG (4.8%) 80 mins, 40G Hallertau Hersbrucker (3.2%) 10 mins
Wyeast Belgian Abbey II, 3L starter
Mash at 66c, 70 mins
I added the flaked wheat because Hieronymous said to use wheat starch, which I imagine is pretty much like flour. I had to use black malt to get the EBC up to 90. I would probably have used something like ‘Carafa’ in hindsight, which is debittered black malt I think. As it turns out I don’t think my version has acquired a harsh taste on this account.
My OG was 1.093 (so close enough), and I fermented this at the ambient temperature of about 18C in my 80L plastic boxes, which have proved themselves to be attenuation machines in the past. After about 10 days(it was slow out of the blocks, my starter was a couple of weeks old at the time) the gravity had dropped to 1.021, which was about in line with Wyeast’s guide of 77% attenuation. I roused the yeast and placed the fermenter on a heat pad, raising the temperature to 23C (real Rochefort Does this too, as Hieronymous notes), and within a day the gravity fell to 1.015, which was close enough for me. That makes the beer 10.1% ABV rather than 11.3, but again, I just want to be in the same general region as these monkish genii.
Tonight I bottled it, about 10 70cl champagne style bottles with corks and 29mm caps (as opposed to the normal 26mm caps), and the rest in small 33cl bottles. I will try to age the large bottles for several years. I took another gravity sample just to make sure (ahem), and it was still at 1.015. I opened a bottle of 1 year old Rochefort 10 to taste alongside, and I was quite happy, given that mine was only 2 weeks after inception, and the real thing was a year. My colour was spot on. I had the same rummy, figgy flavour. If anything, real Rochefort had more of a depth of flavour, more sugary body than mine. At the same time it was hard to tell with the difference in carbonation. What I can say is that there was not flavour in mine that was out of place, so I can only hope that it will develop a similar character to its idol over the coming months. If any of you are considering a Rochefort clone, this will at least get you in the right area.