Thursday, May 28, 2009

Belgian White

Hello all.  As promised, I am writing here more often than before.  I am currently brewing a batch of belgian white beer, similar to a Hoegaarden clone.  For those of you who don't know it, my girlfriend is currently on a trip to Europe right now (which would explain a lot of free time for brewing).  Her first stop was Amsterdam where she was greeted with a Heineken.  She wasn't a huge fan (no surprise) of this, so she tried a Hoegaarden, which she said she loved.  Now, she has always been a fan of white ales, so this was also not much of a surprise.  So, as a surprise (i keep using this word) for her, I decided to make a batch for her return.  

The recipe I got for this clone came from a beer message board, however, after visiting American Brewmaster, I decided to take the advice of the knowledgeable staff and tweak my recipe a bit.  Here is the original recipe that I found:

3.30 lbs. Light liquid malt extract 
2.00 lbs. Dry wheat malt extract 
0.50 lbs. Cracked unmalted wheat 
0.50 lbs. Rolled (flaked) oats 

HOPS (pellet) 
0.50 oz. Saaz for 60 min 
0.70 oz. E.K. Goldings for 60 min 
0.50 oz. Saaz for 15 min 

1.25 tsp. Coriander seeds (cracked) for 15 minutes 
2.00 tsp. Dried bitter orange for 15 minutes 

Steep whole grains in 1/2 gallon water @ 155F for 30 minutes. Rinse 
with 1 or 2 pints of 170F water. Remove grains, add 2.0+ gal water & 
extract, start 60 minute boil. Add hops and other ingredients as 

White Labs Belgian Wit Ale Yeast (WLP400)

Now, while a lot of people said they enjoyed this clone, there were a few things that I did differently.  First of all, the flaked oats don't give off any sugars when they are steeped alone.  They need a catalyst of another grain to get them started.  And since the wheat I got was unmalted, this wouldn't help either (however, unmalted wheat is beneficial not only for flavor, but for head retention, which is something that I might consider for future brews).  So, to get the flaked oats started, I added in a pound of pilsner malt.  I also decided to steep these grains for an hour instead of the recommended 30 minutes from my recipe to get the full reactions.  This left me with that grayish color that really screams Hoegaarden (see picture above).  However, once I added in my malt extract, my wort became much darker (even with light malt extract).  

As for the hops, I wasn't able to find EK Goldings, so I bit my pride and bought just plain Kent Goldings.  However, this shouldn't make a whole lot of difference, right?  As for the orange and coriander, 15 minutes was much too long to be left in the boil.  The clerk at American Brewmaster suggested I add them with 5 minutes to go and to also add in a gram of Camamile "to give it that juicy fruit flavor of Hoegaarden."  I placed these in a hop bag so I could immediately take them out after the last 5 minutes, because sure enough one of the complaints on the message boards were to strong flavors of orange and coriander.  

I also switched out the yeast for a Wyeast 3944 Belgian Wheat.

Anyway, I will let you all know how it turns out before too long.  I am still throwing some ideas around for what to name this one, but I will let you know soon.  And make sure to not tell Lauren about this beer!  Remember, the word of the day is surprise.  

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Apocalypse Wow Review and Label

Been too long since my last post.  I have tried many beers since we last spoke, but have forgotten most of them.  Whoops.  However, there is a whole summer of Saucer ahead, so there will be many reviews to come until I reach my 200th beer!

One review I can dish out is for my last batch: Apocalypse Wow.  I wasn't as proud of this one as my Pale Ale, but (as my roommate, Bryan, said) "it's not bad."  Still very dark (as was my intention) this beer has a very complex taste that was missing from the Hinesight.  The aftertaste bothered me a lot at first tasting, but upon aging for a few extra weeks, I find the flavors more defined.  The brown sugar an molasses came through much more than I expected, and kind of hinder the vanilla that I was originally going for, although it is there.  There is not a lot of head retention or carbonation in this beer either.  

Anyway, here is the label design: