Last week, we talked about the beginning of a special brew leading up to Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest. For the beer we are creating, it involves a 7-8-hour brewing process. So where does this brewing process take us? What do we end up with as a final product? Let me give you some particulars on this beer.
The beer that Tim Kelly and I brewed is generally known as a "farmhouse ale." Doesn't that mean it was made on a farm, you may ask? Originally, yes. These beers played a very important part in the agricultural history of Belgium and Northern France. In summer, the family farms were alive with workers plowing, sowing, tilling and finally harvesting the crops. Little time was left for producing other means of sustenance for the farmhands. So, in the winter/spring, they would brew up a strong beer that would store well to refresh the workers throughout the growing season. In Belgium, these beers were more aggressively hopped and called saisons or seasons. In Northern France, they were higher in sugar content and called biere de garde or beer to keep. The best of the beer was kept for the owners and those that were served to the farmhands were surely diluted to a lower alcohol content so that it would not hinder their labors but would keep them satisfied.
These styles have become very popular in the U.S. and many brewers have added their own innovations to the traditional ingredients. In our beer, a few tweaks were made to the grain bill and hops to bring this closer to an IPA. The malted barleys used were: Maris Otter, Munich, Carapils, crystal rye and flaked oats with Saaz, Styrian Golding, Nugget and Chinook hops, giving it a nice bitter profile. Of course, the yeast is a saison yeast which is usually fermented at a higher temperature than normal to release the esters or fruity flavors of the wort. Most yeast would die at this range of temps but this one loves the warmth, although it does its work slowly and extra time must be allowed for fermentation.
Tim predicts that this product will come out with a 6.5% abv with a pleasant bitterness, smooth mouthfeel and just a light residual sweetness. In the next issue, we'll do a tasting of the finished product and let you know how it came out. Better yet, stop by the Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest and taste it for yourself! Gezondheit!