This past weekend I decided to take a detour on the way to Munich Dunkles that involved a bit of Belgian ale yeast. Perhaps the detour is better named Chambly, Québec rather than Brussels, Belgium since this particular strain of yeast is the same used by that magical Canadian brewer of Belgian-style ales: Unibroue.

If you are not familiar with Unibroue then you owe it to yourself to go out and buy some Trois Pistoles and Maudite right now. No, you can’t wait – I don’t care if you’re at work or for any other pitiful excuse you might have. These beers are worthy of this level of urgency and ridiculous hyperbole.

So, what is a Munich Dunkles? It is a style of dark lager that is very rich and malty. It is most comparable to a Bock, except lighter in alcohol and a little lighter in body and richness. Like Bockbier, Munich Dunkles is typically brewed with a very large amount of Munich malt as the base malt. Munich malt has a much toastier, breadier, and richer malt tone than Pilsner or Pale malts due to the presence of melanoidins. Melanoidins are compounds that make toast taste like toast instead of bread. They are formed during Maillard reactions – the same reactions that cause color-formation (browning) when bread is toasted.

So the beer I just brewed is a recipe for a Munich Dunkles, but fermented with Belgian ale yeast instead of German lager yeast. The result should be something akin to an Abbey-style Dubbel, but richer and more straight-forward. Richer due to the rich Munich base malt, but more straight-forward and less complex due to the absence of Belgian specialty grains and of dark Belgian candi syrup. It will also be lighter in alcohol. If a style named Belgian Brown Ale existed, this would be a fine example of it, no doubt (and, no, Oud Bruin / Flanders Brown does not count, because I did not brew a sour beer).

I call my recipe Hump’s Munich to Brussels Dunkles.

Speaking of Belgium, the next recipe I intend to cook up will be a Belgian Dark Strong Ale that I call La Brabançonne.