Thursday, November 12, 2015
Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Monday night after work, Izzy & I finally started on our Belgian Quad that we’d been planning for a few weeks… and are using some of the dry yeast that we got at NHC back in June. This is our first Belgian beer… and they’re often quite more in-depth and difficult to control than other types of beer. Historically, Belgian beers use multiple-step mashes… which is when you use the mash tun to extract the sugars, you’ll often add water to reach different temperature points during the mash to extract more of a variety of sugars for your wort. This process obviously requires a bit more math & fine tuning to get exactly what you want, especially on a homebrew level. We ugh… totally just went the partial mash method with malt extract, but also about four pounds of various specialty malts for various flavors and coloring… so that’s a bit of a cheat. Again, it’s our first time.
Another aspect of Belgian beers are the ingredients. Probably the “Belgian” beer that most people are familiar with is Blue Moon which is a Belgian-style wheat ale that also includes coriander & orange peel. Typically, true Belgian beers don’t use a whole lot of spices in their preparation… but it’s the yeast that gives different characteristics like the notes of coriander, orange, black pepper, white pepper, and the like… but often times there will be additions of these spices to emphasize the characteristics. In this particular batch that we did, no spices were used… but we did add Belgian candi syrup which is a distilled syrup of two of my favorite fruit sugars (fructose) from beets & dates. How could that possibly go wrong? (Please don’t look back to our Beet Beer that we experimented with about six months ago… we’ll fine tune that one next time around)
Also, the Belgian yeast is unique as well. For this recipe, we used the Abbey Ale dry yeasts that we were given at NHC that are for higher-gravity beers… which a Belgian Quad is, hopefully about 8-10% ABV if all goes well. These yeasts often give off notes of pepper, phenolic spiciness, and other different notes that say… a California Ale yeast would not. A little over a year ago, I did that side-by-side comparison at Southern Pacific Brewing where we sampled the same wort, but fermented with different yeasts… and the results were quite fascinating. I highly recommend it if you get the opportunity. The White Labs tap room in San Diego was a great place to try that with a WIDE variety of beers & yeasts. Another interesting aspect of the Belgian yeast is that they typically ferment best at higher temperatures in the range of 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. We’ve had a bit of a cold spell that started here in San Francisco, but our brewhaus (my living room) is still a pretty decent 60-65 degrees. We may have to raise the temperature a bit though and make sure we do what’s best for the yeast. If our starter was any indication, it loved the warm kitchen while we were brewing.
Anyway, the brew went pretty smoothly… and we’re SUPER excited about the results over the next few weeks. Belgian beers may be difficult to brew (when not cheating like we did) but they can often times be worth it. These beers often offer a different complexity that you wouldn’t expect from a standard beer… and hopefully we just do those Belgian monks that perfected these styles justice in our attempt. We’ll definitely keep you posted. Again, congratulations to all the winners of the California State Comp! Thank you to all the judges & stewards!!! Thank you to Karlo & Sami for hosting LTHD!!! Just a big thank you to everybody, especially if you’re still reading this blog thing… I find it therapeutic… but hopefully you find it at least mildly entertaining or informative. Have a great day everybody!!!