Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Still reading, still learning, every single day... Or, let's get some Belgian type beer on!

Hello everyone,

I am currently sitting offshore in the Persian Gulf, the sun is shining and the sea is rough so all in all quite happy with my lot!

After the success of my Wild cherry Frabjous Saison i have been re-reading a brewing book on more exotic beers. Just when i think i have a reasonable handle on this brewing game and start to become a little complacent i realise that there is a world of beer and ideas out there that i am becoming boring.

As time is on my side i have been freewheeling thoughts in my head and taking ideas from this brewing book and my own experiences(these experiences include a 10 day sampling holiday in Brussels in 09). or maybe it was 08, can't remember due to the inordinate amounts of 'culture' i took onboard at the time.

The idea i am playing with was started by a yeasty bitter beer i drank in Brussels. Traditional wheat beers are as i'm sure you know anything but bitter. They are all about malt sweetness and yeast presence. Hops are not normally much of a feature. One beer i drank in Brussels was about 60IBU's but in all other respects was a wheat beer. I liked it that much that i drank the bar dry of its entire stock over the 10 day drinking holiday(sorry, research & study sabbatical). The bar was next door to my hotel and is in 'Around Brussels in 80 beers'. I will check for the name when i return home something 'art' i think.

The point i am making is that the Belgian brewer had with the simple (to me) addition of more hops transformed a 'normal' wheat beer into something quite different and wonderful (i'll try and find the name of the beer when i return home).

This thought has never left me as i really liked the idea that American brewers who were being showcased in the Hop Loft of Delerium Tremens could have directly influenced a Belgian brewer who in standard Belgian style ran with it and went totally 'off piste' with regard to wheat beer styles while over in America they are getting on planes or importing the Belgian beers and in turn being influenced by those beers. Isn't that a great thought? 

With this refreshing idea in mind and the flashbulbs still going off in my head from the ideas in the book i have decided to go with a beer along these lines. YOUR thoughts are much appreciated.

The beer will be a 15 gallon batch to eventually be split into three batches of 6/5/4 gallons. 

The base beer will be a 60/30/10 split of Pale Malt, Wheat malt & Torrifed wheat. I will be mashing high(70/72degrees, i want lots of residual complex sugars) for two hours and i will be aiming for  approximately 1.050 to 1.055SG in the base beer. There will be a 2 hour gentle boil to preserve the lightness of colour.

Hopping will be in a First Wort Hop style with single hop of cascade.(unlikely that there will be any dry hopping). I will be using quantities sufficient to achieve 60IBU's in the beer. The thinking is that the first batch will be fine at that level as it will have a bit of malt to support this bitterness level. Whereas the 2nd and third batches will have long maturation times allowing the IBU's to fade to a more acceptable level in what will be thinner though stronger beers.

Primary yeast will be a 60/40 split of Duvel & Chimay fermented at roughly 16 degrees to control side flavours. I am looking for a light Belgian influence in this part of the beer. First 6 gallons will be bottled after this stage to 3 carb vols using residual yeast held in suspension.

Remaining 9 gallons will be allowed to drop bright and will then be transferred to secondary fermenters.

At this stage i will introduce a Brett C culture to both secondary fermenters.

The 5 gallon batch will have a few orange peels from the trees in my village in Turkey dropped into it

The Brett C will be allowed to work on both beers for an extended period during which i will be feeding the Brett C with a pale spray malt.

I will then be making a couple of batches of candi rocks(for colour and alcohol). One batch will be stopped in colour at straw(5 gallon  fermenter batch) while the second batch will be allowed to darken to a deep red (4 gallon fermenter batch)

Once the 5 gallon batch has ran through the Candi rock i will bottle it using champagne yeast to 2.5 carb vols.

This leaves the 4 gallon batch which will as a final step be transferred into the 5 gallon fermenter and receive a 1 gallon strong minimash of Vienna malt with a 2 to 5% mix of chocolate malt for colour. At the same time i will add a small retrievable bag of multiple boiled whiskey barrel oak shavings for influence.

Final bottling on the more complex darker beer will be in champagne bottles with (hopefully) genuine corks and champagne yeast/sugar priming to 2 carb vols. 

So there we have it, 3 beers out of one base batch and hopefully all very different from each other and also hopefully all good! Thanks for taking the time to read through this. It has helped me to type it out as it has all been running around for a while in my head. I am sure i will change some aspects as i go forward as that's the beauty of NOT brewing within style. You do what you want and accept the consequences good or bad!

The book that helped to crystallize my own fractured thoughts and ideas and give me more ideas than i can possibly currently cope with is by Jeff Sparrow. Its called Wild Brews and really should be read by anybody who enjoys making beer of any style. it will push your mental envelope of what beer is and will make you question how you brew and why.( honestly it will)!

As with all literature, you should form your own ideas from it. In this instance i have read a book about wild brewing but have stopped short of trying for spontaneous fermentation. I also thought long and hard about oak barrels but at this moment in time i will just keep building my experience base. Possibly this time next year i'll have bought a couple of 10 gallon oak barrels and be finishing a red wine in them in preparation for the beers of 2015.........

Here's a link

I'd particularly like to thank Saudi Arabia for reading the blog as i saw a 30 hit spike from SA on the 30th September. I think that's great, a country where beer isn't and the people are still reading on how to make it. Good for them!

Feel free to comment on my multiple brew ideas, my skin is quite thick you know! :)

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