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John's Westvleteren 12 Clone

Beer won "favorite beer" of June meeting and 1st place 2012 LACF. Lots of dark fruit, some bubble gum, also a little banana. Flavor about halfway between Westvleteren 12 and St. Bernardus ABT 12. It was big hit at 2012 AHA Club Night. Beer ages well. Should reach it's peak in 2015.
Brewed By: 
John Aitchison
Brew Date: 
Brew Type: 
Beer Styles: 
Classic Style: 
Belgian Quadrupple
Recipe Category: 
Batch Size: 
20.0 gallons
Boil Time: 
120 minutes
Original Gravity: 
1.092 O.G.
Final Gravity: 
1.016 F.G.
37.0 IBUs
20.0 SRM

55 LB Dingemans Belgian Pilsner

2 LB Special B

5 LB Cane Sugar inverted and boiled down to 3/4 gallon

5 LB Dark Liquid Candi Sugar

Mashing Instructions: 

Dough malt into 120 degree water.  Pull 35% of grist and decoct.  Decoction should rest 15 minutes at 147 degrees and boil for 20 minutes.  Add decoct to main mash and let rest for 1 hour at 150 degrees.  Raise temperature to 160 and mash out.


4 oz 9.0 AA Northern Brewer pellets 60 minutes

3 oz 4.5 AA Hallertauer pellets 20 minutes

2 oz 1.9 AA Saaz pellets 20 minutes

Extra Ingredients: 

Invert and concentrate sugar the week before.  Stir constantly and lower heat.  Sugar will become thin caramel.

Water should be very hard; similar to Dortmund or Burton-on-trent.  High level of Sulfates, Carbonates, and Salts


Wyeast 3787 and White Labs WLP 530 (both Westmalle Strains) should be added right away

Wyeast 1388 (Duvel) and White Labs 550 (Le Chouffe) should be added on day 3

Slurry from bottle of Westvleteren 8 added three weeks into fermentation when gravity falls below 1.025.


Fermentation started at 65 degrees.  Temperature raised 2 degrees a day until it reached 85 degrees.  Massive starters or starter beers used in all cases.


johnaitchison's picture

How do you make your own candy sugar?  Not hard, and fairly inexpensive.  Start by buying some Invertase.  You can get it easily on EBay or Amazon for under $5.00. And that much is good for a lot of beer.   Disolve sugar into water at the rate of 1 pound per gallon.  Use good water.  Bring the water up to 150 pounds and lower the PH to the 4-5 range.  Lactic acid works well.  Then add 1 teaspoon of Invertase per gallon.  In 20 minutes, your sugar will be inverted. 

Inverted sugar is metabolized much quicker by the yeast, and your beer will be much cleaner.  I usually concentrate my sugar at this time.  If I'm brewing a Tripel or other light beer, I boil it just until the first signs of either thickening or color change.  If I'm going for a big caramel flavor such as what Westvleteren 12 has, I'll continue to boil the sugar-water mixture until it thickens and caramelizes.  WARNING--TURN DOWN YOUR HEAT AT THIS POINT.  You'll need to stir constantly once it gets thick.  With the Westy 12 clone, it got so thick it wouldn't pour.  This took a couple of hours.  I had to pour boiling water into the pot and redisolve the caramel back into water. 

I did all this about a week before brew day.  It keeps well.  Just add your liquified sugar mixture into the boil.  And it tastes good too, I poured some over vanilla ice cream; that's another subject.

Drew Beechum's picture

It's strong stuff. Pay attention to the man!

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