Category Archives: Belgian

Session Brett IPA

Lately I’ve been making other people’s recipes rather than designing my own from scratch. My intuition has been a little off with recent beers. I’m still learning, of course, but I’ve not been impressed with some of my recent recipes. Every once in a while I’ll make a beer and afterwards go “what the hell was I thinking?” once it’s done fermenting. So I started looking to other brewers for inspiration, filtering their recipes through my brewing intuition. The past few recipes I’ve brewed from Brulosopher have been great, so I think I’ll continue on this path for a little while this year.

It’s been a while since I brewed something with Brett, so I did some searching online for some Brett recipes. This one came from Meek Brewing Co’s blog, for a Brett IPA. I scaled it down to 4 gallons, and adjusted the acid malt to get my pH right around 5.3.

  • 5 lb US 2-row pale
  • 1 lb Red Wheat
  • 0.4 oz Carafoam
  • 0.1 oz Acid malt
  • 0.3 oz Amarillo @ 60 min
  • 3 oz Amarillo @ 5 min
  • WLP650 Brett Brux (1L starter)

// Mash-in w/ 3.5 gal at 152F for 50 minutes, mash-out, sparge to collect 4.8 gallons. Boil 75 minutes, collect around 3.5 gallons 1046 wort. Brewed 1/15/17. //

The expiration date on the Brett vial was pretty close (Jan 27 ’17), so I made a starter; it took a good week for it to fully attenuate. Tasted good in the end though – plenty of funk with some fruit too.

1/19/17:  Airlock slowing down, gravity down to 1013. Incredible peach/mango aroma. Flavor is slightly tangy, but good fruity/hop flavors. Not much funk at all. Added 0.75 oz citra and 0.5 oz amarillo to carboy.

1/25/17: A little funk coming through! Crash cooled for 2 days then kegged. Tasting notes soon.

4/2/17  Keg kicked before I could get around to some real tasting notes. Overall the level of funk was was low and would’ve liked more. My old vial of Brett may have had something to do with this. The citrus hop character was pleasant but had a slight attack to it, would’ve preferred if it were somewhat cleaner – maybe not using Amarillo as the bittering hop and using something like Magnum instead would help with this. I would up blending this with another Belgian Pale Ale I had on tap to create a more balanced, hoppy, not-funky beer.

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Filed under All-grain, Belgian, Funky / Sour, Hoppy, Pale Ale

Belgian Single

I recently visited Cooperstown, NY and checked out Ommegang. I’ve always considered their beer as one of the best Belgian “US” breweries (yeah, they’re owned by Duvel, so what?). So I decided to make a fairly standard Belgian Blonde Ale after something I tasted up there.

  • 9.75 lb Pils (Dingemans)
  • 0.25 lb CaraRuby (Dingemans, 20L)
  • 1.5 lb Styrian (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz Styrian (5 min)
  • WLP570 Belgian Golden Ale (1L starter)

// Mash-in 4.25 gal at 152 for 60 minutes, 168 for 5 minutes. Sparge w/ 3.5 gallons to collect around 6.5 gallons of 1042 wort. Boil 90 minutes, collect just under 6 gallons of 1052 wort.  Chill overnight to 56, pitch decanted starter. Basement at 64F. Brewed on Grainfather 9/15/16. //

9/17/16:  Lots of blow-off. Great aroma from the airlock, though.

9/22/16:  Airlock starting to slow, took a sample at 1018. Very yeasty and still very cloudy, but great breaded flavor following. Moved upstairs to 71F.

9/23/16:  Definite increase in airlock activity after 24 hours, thin white foam layer on top.

9/29/16: Still bubbling once every 20s, but I’m happy with the flavor. Moved to the fridge to crash cool. Gravity at 1011.

10/27/16:  Came out well, a little ester-y, but very drinkable. Tasting notes soon.

12/5/16:  Keg kicked and I never got around to doing a proper review! However this beer was stellar. Crisp, refreshing, great balance of biscuity malts and floral expressive hops. The yeast esters went down and hops seemed to come out more with age as the beer clarified. Probably kegged a little too soon, but those “young” flavors could’ve been evaded had i filtered at kegging. Will definitely make again!

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Filed under All-grain, Almost SMASH, Belgian, Blonde, Malty

Belgian Amber Tasting

DSC_1032When it comes to brewing Belgian beer, saisons are usually my go-to. In my experience saison yeast can usually work in a wide range of temperatures (low 70s to low 90s) and still generally produce pleasant, peppery esters that make for a really enjoyable beer. Other Belgian styles I’ve had more difficulty with – dubbles, blondes, etc., because I just can’t get the yeast do what I want. The final product usually come out overly ester-y, bubble-gum, banana, things that I wouldn’t mind in smaller quantities, but the “real-thing” from Belgium is much cleaner with a excellent biscuity malt component that shines through. This beer was one step closer to what I would call a “passable” homebrewed Belgian beer.

Appearance: Light brown to golden/amber. Excellent slight off-white head. Fairly hazy all the way to the end of the keg.

Aroma:  Floral and banana esters with mild malt component, slight corn/off aroma occasionally.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a somewhat dry finish.

Flavor: Estery Belgian yeast is very evident followed by a fairly big malt body – crusty bread, slightly grainy. Hops provide bitterness to balance.

Overall: This recipe is a keeper – prominent biscuity malts are the front with moderate hopping to provide balance and bitterness. It’s getting closer, but I may have let the temperature raise up for too long. The first tasting of it before I raised the temp was much cleaner, and after I let it finish up at around 72F it had gotten overly ester-y. So next time I’ll just let it finish out at the lower temperature, however long that takes, with maybe only a day at the higher end. The corn-ish flavors/aroma may have been DMS from the pils malt and not having boiled long enough, although it was a very strong boil. Having it ferment out a little more would also be good, but I was in a hurry to get this carbed and ready for a party. It was well received, many people calling it a great summer beer.

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Filed under All-grain, Amber, Balanced, Belgian, Tasting

Belgian Amber

It’s been a while since I did any kind of Belgian beer. Generally speaking I’m never totally satisfied with how they turn out. Yeast is the biggest factor in that – pitching enough isn’t a problem, but controlling fermentation temps is not my strong suit. Fortunately, this time of the year is good in my house for a 2-stage fermentation – my basement is a cool 62F and first floor is mild 72F. I’m going to try to do this one right – pitch a big starter, start things out cool and then let it finish warm.

  • 11 lb Pils (Dingemans)
  • 0.75 lb Aromatic (Dingemans)
  • 0.75 lb caravienna (Dingemans)
  • 0.25 lb special B (Dingemans)
  • 1 oz Saaz @ 70 30 and 15 minutes.
  • Omega Yeast Labs Belgian A

// Mash-in 2 qt/lb at 148 for 40 minutes, raise to 158 for 10 minutes, mash out at 168. Sparge w/ 3.5 gal to collect 8 gallons 1038 wort. Boil 70 minutes, collect 6 gallons 1048 wort. Chill to 75F, shake to aerate, pitch 1L starter. Brewed 5/27/16. //

5/29/16:  Started fermentation at 62F, seemed to slow down, so brought it upstairs to 72F to finish out and gave it a good shake. Gravity at 1022.

5/31/16: Gravity at 1018. Slightly cloudy, but overall nice flavors. Soft esters with a nice rustic crusty bread flavor. Gave it another good shake.

6/1/16: Racked to keg. Gravity at 1016. No time to crash cool, since this will be for a party in 3 days.

6/6/16:  Came out well! Tasting notes.

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Filed under All-grain, Amber, Balanced, Belgian, Summer

Sour Wort Experiment: Hoppy Brett Sour

IMG_0835Making a good sour beer takes time. The bugs that create the complex funky and sour flavors work slower, and, to get a decently tart beer is going to take at least a few months to make using a traditional method of pitching bacteria into a low-hopped wort with ale yeast and Brett. This is an experiment to get those results a little quicker – 1 month at most. Recently I tried souring a batch after the boil by only adding lactobacillus (no yeast up front).  In theory, this should allow the bacteria to create lactic acid quicker and more freely – there’s no yeast or alcohol to inhibit its activity (along with very little hops). So far, after about 2 months, it has very little sourness. Then, I heard about a method of souring the wort right after the mash.

  • 5 lb Avengard Pils
  • 1 lb Dark Munich
  • 0.25 lb Caramunich 24L
  • 0.3 oz Magnum 60 min
  • 0.5 oz Mosaic 5 min
  • 1 oz Mosaic 0 min
  • 2 vials WLP 650 Brett Brux

// Mash-in 1.6 qt/lb at 152 for 50 minutes, raise to 160 for 5 minutes, sparge to collect around 3.25 gallons of 1.064 wort. Wait till wort dropped to 120F, then add 1/2 lb pils malt (uncrushed) to the wort in a mesh bag, stir it around until the bag saturates and stars to sink (it should eventually sink to the bottom). Cover the top of the wort with plastic wrap trying to keep out any bubbles. Put a lit on the pot and let sit for 3 days. After that, remove plastic wrap. It smelled pretty nasty at this point. Kinda musty, corny, stale funky bread. Maybe this was DMS that formed. Proceed with boil, hop additions, chill to around 85F with ice, oxygenate with 30s pure O2. Collect around 2.5 gallons of 1060 wort. Brewed 11/26/15. //

12/7/15  Airlock activity slowed down significantly. Gravity at 1018. Wonderful ripe peach, mango aroma. Taste follows, with a decent amount of lactic sourness. It’s acidic, but not face puckering. Maybe this will enhance as time goes on. The fruit flavors compliment it well. No funk yet. It’s still a little sweet, so I think two more weeks will probably be necessary to let it dry out.

12/30/15:  Kegged with FG at 1012. Same great tropical fruit flavors. Some brett funk has developed (there were a few small pellicles on the surface of the beer) which is a nice touch. Looking forward to seeing how some carbonation adds to the experience with this beer!

THE VERDICT

This was a great experiment that, for me, shed some light on what can be done using grain to sour a beer. I didn’t even maintain a warmer (110F) environment for the lacto and still got a decent level of sourness after three days in the kettle. The tropical hops were a nice touch (the final beer really tasted like it had mango and apricot added to it!) but I’d be curious to see what noble hops might do to create a more traditional sour. There was a small amount of Brett funk, which definitely contributed to the overall impression of the beer but wasn’t overly barnyard.  Since brewing this batch, I’ve read about a few more methods for quick souring which I plan to try out very soon. Until this, I would call this batch a success!

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Filed under All-grain, Belgian, Experimental, Funky / Sour, Sour

SMASH French Saison w/ Nelson Sauvin hops

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In an effort to experiment with some malts and hops that I’ve never used before, I threw together this SMASH recipe that showcases golden promise and Nelson Sauvin hops.

  • 6.5 lb Golden Promise
  • 0.2 lb Acidulated malt
  • 0.25 oz Nelson Sauvin 60 min
  • 0.25 oz Nelson Sauvin 30 min
  • 0.50 oz Nelson Sauvin 10 min
  • WYeast French Saison

// Mash-in 154 for 50 min. 1.25 tsp gypsum to mash. Sparge w/ 168 to collect 3.25 gallons 1.058 wort. Boil 60 minutes. Add ice to get down to 140, chill overnight to 64. Pitch yeast, no starter. Shake to aerate. Wort had big clouds of proteins suspended in it. Brewed 1/14/16. //

1/25/16  Fermentation was fairly active at first and stabilized to bubbling once every 15 seconds for about a week. Finally, after about two weeks, bubbling in the airlock slowed to about once a minute. Gravity at 1006. Very clean, crisp and dry saison flavors. I really like it. Not much noticeable in the way of hops, but we’ll see how it is once it’s kegged.

THE VERDICT

This ended up being just an OK saison. It came out weirdly acidic, which is probably  a result of me stupidly adding acidulated malt based on my initial pH reading. Still trying to get the hang of it. An overall dry and clean beer, with some gentle hop character that blended well with the saison yeast. I didn’t really get a strong reading on the Nelson hop contribution since the yeast is so flavorful, so probably not a wise choice of recipe to try out the new hop with.  Something just isn’t right about the beer, though. For a saison, it’s a little lacking in the ester department. This may be a trait of the French Saison strain, or, maybe it’s the golden promise getting in the way. I’d probably stick with a Belgian strain for the yeast.

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Filed under All-grain, Balanced, Belgian, Experimental, Saison, Small Batch

American Farmhouse Saison

IMG_0604

I’ve been dreaming of a crisp, dry saison for a little while now. I heard about WLP670 – American Farmhouse Blend – and got pretty intrigued about what kind of beer it would create. Some reviews have said that it is slightly cleaner (in terms of esters/phenols) than a Belgian strain, but does produce some funk/barnyard. One half gets the 670, the other gets a single vial of WLP656 Brett Brux.

  • 21.8 lb Avengard Pils
  • 0.5 lb Avengard Cara-8
  • 0.25 lb Acidulated malt
  • 1.5 oz Palisade (60 min)
  • 1.5 oz Palisade (30 min)
  • WLP670 American Farmhouse Blend
  • WLP565 Brett Brux

// Mash-in 1.6 qt/lb at 146-148 for 45 min, 158 for 10 min, 168 for 2 min. boil 90 min. Chill to 82 (coldest i could get it with the ground water in summer). Oxygenate with 60s pure O2 in each carboy. Collect 9.5 gal 1051 wort. Pitched starter of 670 into 5 gal, straight vial of the brett into 4.5 gal. Brewed 8/8/15. //

// Water: 2.5 tsp gypsym, 1.5 tsp CaCl2 in mash, 2.25/1.25 in sparge. //

Good fermentation within 8 hours of pitching the 670. Brett didn’t get started til within about 2 days.

8/15/15   Fermentation slowed quite a bit in the 670 (one bubble every 20s or so), took a sample at 1012. Really nice flavor – Great saison esters (not as perfume-y as the Belgian strain, but still very solid), and some light breaded malts. Getting a slight hefeweizen-like aroma as well – clove maybe? Earthy, herbal hops in the background with a slightly dry finish. Decided to let it go for another week since i’m going on travel for a week, and it could afford to dry out and clear up just little more. Brett still chugging away.

8/22/15  Both carboys stopped fermenting almost completely. 670 is at 1007. Similar flavors and aroma but crystal clear and super crisp malt flavor with the yeast complimenting it really well. Can’t wait to taste this chilled and carbed. 565 is still very cloudy, but took a sample anyway. Incredible aroma – slightly sour/funky with crisp apple and lemon, almost like a Berliner Weiss but less tart. Fairly sweet, but similar flavors to the aroma. Gravity at 1021 so it still needs time to work. On its way to a something spectacular, though!

THE VERDICT

WLP670 Version:

Appearance: Slight haze at first, but after two weeks in the keg it was brilliantly clear. Golden/yellow. Fluffy white head that doesn’t last very long.

Aroma: Slight peppery saison yeast aroma with a strong presence of bread pils malt and a hint of noble hops. Kind of reminds me of a pilsner. Not nearly as perfume-y and ester-y as a Belgian strain, but still has a light spicy character that reminds me of a Belgian single.

Flavor: Clean malts and saison yeast up front with a hint of hops midway through a sip. Clean dry finish that lingers with a little bitterness. Similar to the aroma – a pleasant crisp farmhouse style beer with more of a clean pils feeling rather than a saison, but there’s a touch of the spicy saison character that brings it back home.

Mouthfeel: Light and crisp, but still feels like a fair amount of body despite the low finishing gravity.

Overall: I really liked this strain of yeast but in the end it didn’t produce my ideal saison. Not enough yeast character as the classic Belgian Dupont strain, but I also fermented fairly cool and only gave it 2 weeks in the primary before kegging. I’ve read that if you give it longer there’s actually some Brettanomyces present that will start to eat away at residual sugars and create a more complex funk. That would be awesome, but I really wanted to have something on tap sooner than later. Either way, this produced a very clean Belgian style beer farmhouse beer that was crisp and very enjoyable in the summer months. The simple malt bill worked great so that the breaded pils malt and hops could also shine.

WLP565 Version:

Appearance: Super cloudy, a murky straw yellow. Pillow-y white head that last for about 30s.

Aroma: Slight funk, lemon, bright citrus without a particularly distinguishable fruit that I can think of.

Flavor: Very light pils malt and some barnyard accompanied by a similar lemon/citrus from the aroma. Not much funk. Slight acidity which adds a nice overall brightness to the beer, maybe even slight mineral-y flavor. Hops come through a little in the finish, but overall contribute some moderate bitterness and add to the dryness.

Mouthfeel: Thin and dry with spritsy carbonation.

Overall: Tastes like this could be the base of a great sour beer, but it’s not very sour and/or funky having used all Brett B.  In general it’s a fairly uninteresting Brett beer compared to the one i did previously with more American hops. The main observation I can glean from the comparison (since they were the same yeast and basically the same malts) is the difference in hops. This beer keep it pretty clean, crisp and earthy in terms of addition times and flavor, whereas the other showcased some big fruity Mosaic hops. Personally I think the Mosaic beer’s hop flavor and Brett funk complimented each other really well.

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Filed under All-grain, Balanced, Funky / Sour, Saison, Summer