Monday, June 12, 2006

Brewlog: Belgian Small Ale - Update

Last week, after a few "recovery" days - that is, letting myself sleep in past 5:30 AM - I finally headed up to Yreka to get the Belgian Small Ale that I'd brewed back in mid-April into some bottles. Now, I hadn't been around to monitor this one, but contitions were, apparently, good, and the beer fermented out to a final gravity of 1.000, which means there was perfect or near-perfect attenuation (the fact that alcohol is lighter than water means there'd have to be a slightly negative hydrometer reading to indicate full attenuation). That's the first time I'd ever recieved as such from a yeast. I think I'm a fan of WLP 570.

Anyway, the beer fermented out beautifully, and it dropped crystal-clear. The final product, before bottling (and carbonation) was very pleasing. Though the breadiness I'd noted in the unfermented wort hadn't really carried through, the final beer was successful, to say the least. My somewhat questionable decisions to use the decidedly non-Belgian elements of not insignificant amounts of dark adjunct grains and prominent hopping both played out well. The floral/spicy medley of the Styrian Goldings and the Saaz hops along with the slight bit of roasty, tannic bite from the grains give substaintial character to this otherwise small beer. They also marry exceedingly well with the yeast characteristics from the WLP 570 - I suppose this shouldn't be surprising considering that it is the
Duvel strain. There's a sort of clean, phenolic bite left by the yeast that compliments the roastiness and hoppiness. Behind it, there's just a twinge of mild fruit esters. All in all, it came out tasting kinda like a roasty saison.

I'm not really one to toot my own horn, and I've certainly had a lot of dismal failures when it comes to homebrewing, but I must say I think this beer is a resounding success, and I'm very pleased about that. Lots of flavor in a very drinkable, low-alcohol package. And a rather cheap recipe too. I'll take this over a big quadrupel or double-IPA any day.


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