Doctor Duvel

I'm like a sommelier, but for beer.

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Location: Upstate New York, United States

Favorite Beers: Orval, Samuel Smith, Duvel, Hennepin, Oude Gueze, Chimay, Dogfish Head, Anchor Steam, and anything made by Trappist monks.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Belgian Yeast

So, I'm really excited about the prospect of brewing with the new Roeslare yeast strain. I gave my friend Brian a half glass of my Dubbel the other night, and he praised it for having a certain horsiness. This was brewed with Wyeast 3787 (Trappist High Gravity), so unless my sanitation is way off, it's not literally got Brettanomyces in it. I think it's a single strain and it's derived from Westmalle. It's a yeast, by the way, for which my admiration continues to grow as the beers I've made with it age. I can't wait to see how my Tripel comes out--It's bottle conditioning in NY but one bottle is at Jerm's in Oakland so we can give it a taste at the five-week point. Anyway, I think the good Belgian yeasts just create an earthiness that, with a characterful malt profile, can seem wilder in character than it is. For that matter my use of Styrian Goldings for a bittering hop probably helped--they're pretty earthy really. The recipe I used as the base for my substantially altered version had N. Brewer and I'm glad I headed for something more Belgian.

But at any rate, when I get back to NY, I'm going to make a pretty straightforward Belgian pale to keg and have with food, but before long at all, I must explore Roeslare, the Wyeast version of the Rodenbach yeast with its Brett and Lactobacillus. I was just fantasizing about De Ranke's Guldenberg, which is, or rather was, inflected by that yeast and has a simply stunning complexity. Why can't those beers be easier to find? Well, probably because they'd be less good if they were--stupid question. So there's no reason I can't just take off, build a complex malt profile, hop it carefully and let it go with that weird yeast and see what happens. The De Ranke brewers keep the wild character of the yeast marginally controlled by their high hopping--the lighter I hop probably the funkier the beer might ultimately be. Commerical models for me to work off would be Rodenbach itself (would require serious patience and really ought to be made in wood...), the ultra hoppy, Orval-on-crack XX Bitter, and Guldenberg, a hoppy tripel basically, but my notes seem to associate wininess and red fruits with it. That's gotta be the yeast.

So, sans ProMash, maybe a Guldenberg-ish beer would have a gravity of 1073 or so, IBU's higher than for style, like 50-55. So maybe something like:

Belgian Pilsner malt + Munich (or just use Dingemans Pale Ale??)
Some candy sugar
Some wheat for head
Some delicate character malt application: Biscuit, tiny bit of Caravienne?
Bitter with Brewer's Gold (trademark De Ranke hop) if I can find it (Chinook as sub???)
Flavor/Aroma with more of the same and substantial additions of whole-flower Hallertau.
Ferment with Roeslare.


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