1485 Hollow Glen Road, Julian
4646 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa
Last year, I had the pleasure of collaborating in the brewing of an English-style extra special bitter (ESB) aptly named Bitter Beer Writer. It was the idea of Tom Nickel, the owner and brewmaster at Julian’s Nickel Beer Co. Coming up with the beer recipe with him gave me extra appreciation for the brewer’s art. For the most part, he and I determined what we wanted the final product to look, smell, and taste like as well as the level of alcohol we wanted to hit. From there, he ran a scan of his award-winning brewing knowledge banks then suggested hops, a yeast strain, and malt varieties and percentages for the grain bill. Though my contribution to the brew day was solely manual labor, it was an educational experience I cherish. So, when Nickel brought up the idea to collaborate again, I eagerly jumped on board for round two.
We kicked around the idea of redoing Bitter Beer Writer, but I wanted to try our hands at a Belgian-style beer. At first, a dubbel seemed the way to go, something caramely and bready to go with the cooler temperatures during its winter debut. But as we discussed brewing the beer, we both started leaning toward the bigger end of the spectrum, craving bolder flavors and higher alcohol-by-volume (ABV). In the end, we opted to brew the largest of Belgian abbey ales, a quadrupel, and dub it Double Dubbel.
As with our previous collaboration, Nickel took the reins in recipe development. He had a healthy batch of Westmalle Trappist ale yeast bubbling away in one of his fermenters and figured it would be ideal to take on the multitude of sugars (brown sugar and candi syrup) and specialty malts (Special B, Midnight Wheat, Dark English Crystal). He was right. Even in the cold of a Julian January, that yeast tore through the wort, which was hopped with German Polaris and contained a touch of nutmeg (grated by yours truly), imparting their flavorful esters along the way. The result is a quad in the high nines, ABV-wise, with plenty of caramel and dark fruit notes.
After deciding to collaborate, I presented the idea of including Double Dubbel in the Beer to the Rescue campaign benefitting the Lupus Foundation of Southern California (LFSC). Nickel graciously agreed and, as part of that charity effort, this beer will debut at a special release event at one of his other businesses, O’Brien’s Pub (4646 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa) at 5 p.m. on Friday, February 6. I will be on-hand (duh, there’s an awesome quad there) with representatives from the LFSC, who will have literature on lupus and some really cool Beer to the Rescue t-shirts for sale. And stay tuned, some of this beer is being funneled into rum barrels for aging and will reemerge later this year as “Double Dubbel, Animal Style!”