Collaboration brew at Brewparts

Christmas is approaching and what is better then having your own Christmas beers? Indeed, having brewed several of your own Christmas beers :-). So the time is now to brew some Christmas beers. As it is more fun to brew together with somebody, my husband and me were invited at Brewparts to do 3 ‘collaboration brews’. Brewparts is situated in Broager, Sønderjylland and is a shop where you can buy beers from various countries. The beer choice is impressive! They also perform beer courses and sell ingredients for home brewing. If you want to check it out: Brewparts  or if you want to do a beer making course: Brewparts Brew Course.

We decided to brew 3 different beers: a Belgian Blond, a Belgian Dubbel and a Christmas beer. Brewparts has several Brewsters they use for their beer courses, so that was what we used for brewing our beers.

For me, it was nice to try out a different system than the one I have at home (Braumeister), as I am on the lookout for buying a new system. The Brewster is really easy to use, and is an all-in-one brewing system just like the Braumeister. However, the circulation of wort is different, as here a pump is attached separately to the outside of the brewing kettle. In the Braumeister, the pump is integrated, but the wort is not pumped over the malt but through the malt. That is why – in my opinion – the Braumeister is less efficient when it comes to sugar yield. Both systems are quite easy to clean though. With the Brewster, there is just more piping to clean.

And so we started our three brews on a Saturday morning. The malt bill was quite complicated, as I like to play around with adding different types of malt to optimize the flavor and body of the beer. For the Dubbel we used some Pilsner, Munich, Cara Belge, Biscuit, Melanoidin and chocolate malt. As hops we used Styrian Golding and Mittelfruh, for a soft bitterness.

The malt bill for the Christmas beer was very similar except that we used Munich malt as the base to get a full bodied beer. Here we also added some spices: sweet orange peel, cardamom, fennel seeds and star anise.

The last beer, the Belgian Blond, was made with pilsner and oat malt.

After brewing, the wort was cooled through the Brewster cooling system, which works with counter flowing cool water. And then we could fill the fermentation buckets. 

The Belgian Blond came home with me to ferment, but the other two beers were filled on a Fermentasaurus to be tapped in Brewparts.

The smarty thing with this system is that you can ferment your beer and tap it immediately afterwards, as you can carbonate the fermenter. Very easy in this way to ferment and immediately try out your beer :-).

The yeast we used was from Mangrove Jack’s. As this is dry yeast we rehydrated the yeast in boiled water that was cooled down.

We used the following yeasties:


M31 for the Christmas beer, M41 for the Belgian Dubbel and M47 for the Belgian Blond. Now it’s waiting for the yeast magic to be completed.

It was truly a pleasure to brew at Brewparts. They have excellent systems, all the malt and hop possibilities you wish for and great service. The beer choice is really amazing, with beers from all over the world. Nice note, they have a nice English beer collection as well.

We closed off our brewing day with the local Oktoberfest. Cheers!

Winter Glory – my first Belgian Dubbel home brew

I can smell it when I open the door every morning to walk to my car through the garden – autumn has arrived. The smells that come with it are the best smells in nature – a wet humus smell that greets me every morning to remind me that the long summer days are over and that winter is coming. And that means that it is time for ‘hygge’ and brewing some dark beer to get us through the winter days. Therefore I decided this year to try a Belgian Dubbel recipe. After having tried a Belgian Blond for summer, this is the logical next step in my Belgian home brewing adventure.
As I never tried a dark beer before, I searched some inspiration on http://www.beercalc.org for getting some ideas on which malt types to put in. I agreed with myself that the malt bill should be a bit complex to get a good sweet, caramel with chocolate impression in the final beer. So this is what I have put in: two types of pilsner malt as the backbone of course, Munich malt, biscuit malt, Cara belge and a little bit of chocolate malt. After maishing in, the color was clearly dark and the smell already amazingly christmassy.


This time I was home alone while brewing, so a good test for me to see if I could manage with me, myself and my crane to drain the final malt. 


My crane worked perfectly 😊. So ergonomic as it is a piece of cake now to lift the malt pipe. 

I measured pH at the start of maishing in and because the darker malts automatically drop the pH, I did not have to adjust pH. The pH was around 5.4, so perfect for maishing in.


For the hops, I was pretty excited as it was the first time I used hops from my garden. The variety that I harvested a week earlier was Styrian Golding. I air dried the hops in my brewery until they were ready to use.


Styrian Golding hops are grown in Styria, Austria and Slovenia. The variety is close to Fuggle hops and carries similar attributes. Styrian Golding is a aroma variety with low alpha acid content (typically between 4.5-6%). The aroma character is spicy and flowery with excellent bitterness.

My garden gave me 30 gram of the Styrian Golding hops:


As this was not enough to create a good bitterness level, I also added some Tradition hop.

After brewing, I cooled down the wort and the next day it was ready for fermentation. I had 40 liter of brew, as this time I also sparged 4 liter of water over the spent grains to get all sugar out. I also added 1 kg of sugar to the boil to get the beer a dry finish.

For the yeast, I used two different ones again: WLP570, my favorite by now for Belgian style brews and WLP500 to test it out. The last one is called Monastery Ale Yeast, and should be good for a Belgian Dubbel as well. I again aerated both buckets to be sure the yeast would get a good start. I made yeast starters and after 1 day, the added WLP570 kickstarted. The WLP500 needed 12h more before it also started fermenting.

Now it is waiting until the fermentationis is finished before I can bottle these two – hopefully delicious – brews.

To be continued…

Belgian Blond Ale – my signature style so far

The last two months I have tried to optimize my Belgian Blond Ale style beers. So far with good success as I had the opportunity to serve the beer for quite some people. The first one brewed in July was to celebrate a double 70 years birthday (the aunt and uncle of my husband) and the second one was for Håndbryggernes Dag last weekend. 

Both beers were brewed with pilsner and wheat malt, but the hopping regimes and spices added were a bit different. I learned that Citra hops give a nice fruity touch and that using cara pilsner malt gives the beer a more Belgian full taste.

The double 70 years birthday went well and the beers were a hit :-).


The beer also had a nice foam and the wheat gave it a summer haze.

People liked it so I was happy. It also went well with the delicious food we got presented. Especially the dessert table was my favorite:


People who say that beers don’t fit with dessert have obviously never had the perfect combination of sweet dessert with a light summer beer.

Also last week people liked my Belgian Bride Blond as I became 2nd in the home brewing competition in Brewers Inc. 

I will keep on optimizing the recipe, as I think I should add a bit less wheat and add a bit of oat malt to give it some more spice. But that is what home brewing is all about; optimizing recipes continuously and more importantly just have some great fun with it!

Belgian Bride Blond – my first beer brewed in my home brewery – for Håndbryggernes Dag

It has taken quite some effort and work, but 2 weeks ago the day came that my home brewery could be tried out :-). I was so excited, as now I have a crane to help me lifting my brew pot:


It will be much easier now to lift my brew pot and clean it properly. I just rail it over to the other side of my home brewery where we installed a huge sink. In the future we will also install a ‘shower’ place so it will be even easier to properly clean my brewing equipment 😊.


With my crane and the sink installed, I wanted to optimize one of my first recipes: my Bride Blond I brewed for my wedding. The reason for this is that people really liked it at our wedding and the one I brewed for my husbands aunt and uncle’s 70 years birthday was also really liked and very close to the original recipe (another blog post to come).

The original recipe was with pilsner malt, oat and wheat malt. The hops I used was Mittelfruh, as this hop variety gives a balanced bitterness with a clean aftertaste without giving too much aroma. In the current recipe I left oat malt out but used a mix of Weyermann pilsner malt and Cara pilsner malt. The wheat malt was 8% of the total malt bill. 

And then it was brewing time:


As all my former trials with producing a Belgian Blond resulted in good flavored beers but without proper foam, I decided not to filter my water anymore and to maish in at a higher temperature. I used a Britta filter before to filter out part of the Calcium, but I read that this can give cause to more salty beers without a proper foam head. One of my friends actually detected the salty flavor in my beer, so I decided to try something different and not to filter my beer anymore over a Britta filter.

I also maished in at 55 degrees Celsius now, instead of at 38 degrees Celsius. This to make sure that I would not have too much protein breakdown, so I would have a good foam stability in the glass. I also made sure this time to correct the pH, however this was not necessary, as the pH was around 5.6.


For the yeast, I used my favorite Golden Ale WLP570 yeast and A witbier yeast WLP400 to try a new style yeast. After brewing, I put the beer in two buckets and put them in my fermentation closet.
After cooling down the wort during the night, I aerated them properly the next day before adding the yeast:


The yeast bubbled happily away the next day and after 7 days the beer was completely fermented out. 

And that was the time to put it on keg … yes, I signed up for a crazy homebrewing challenge, called Håndbryggernes Dag at Brewers Inc https://www.brewersinc.dk/. For this day (2nd of September), I had to put 20L of beer on a key keg to make it ready to be poured at Brewers Inc.

I got the key keg from Maltbazaren and after watching some YouTube movies, my husband and me managed to fill the keg:


However, we filled the keg without carbonating the beer and after talking to one of my colleagues, I was afraid the beer could not be tapped. Luckily Erik from Brewers Inc could figure out how to do this and on Saturday 2nd of September, my beer was ready to be poured from tap. I was so proud to see my beer on the tap list (number 7):


I was so nervous to taste it, but that was not necessary, I was extremely pleased with the flavor, the foam and the body of my Belgian Bride Blond! The foam was actually really good, so not filtering my water definitely had helped.


A lot of people liked my beer that day and this resulted in a 2nd place in the Håndbryggernes Dag competition. If you want to see the video where they release the results, check out the Facebook page of Brewers Inc. 

Cheers!

Don’t worry Pale Ale – a 0.5% alcohol beer from Svaneke Bryghus

My husband and me have just been running and now we deserve a good alcohol free beer. It is getting a habit to drink alcohol free beers after our running trips. I am very pleased with the Drink’in the Sun from Mikkeller, but now I would like to taste some different brewery styles.

I found the Don’t worry Pale Ale from Svaneke Bryghus in our Superbrugsen and gave it a try. 


The beer is a Pale Ale style and you notice immediately the hoppy nose when you pour the beer. It is fruity and grassy aroma hops that steel the palet. However there is not much bitterness and the taste does not linger. The beer is also quite sweet, which is actually mentioned on the label. It is for sure a good try and better than what I have tasted so far. The only big minus is the sulfury off-flavor that shines through in the aroma. The big plus is the quite good flavor balance and mouthfeel. I’ll definitely try this one again on a more sunny day.

Château Lamothe-Cissac 2015 – to be drunk from now on

I blogged earlier this week about the Bordeaux wine Lamothe-Cissac that I bought at Philipson wine and wanted to age to see how it would evolve. Well, I tried it, together with my husband and my parents – that stopped over at our place on their way to Belgium. 

It was an amazing experience, as this wine was already so elegant to drink. No heavy tannins and with a dark fruit nose and aroma. Quite surprising to taste a 2 year old Bordeaux wine with such a good balance already. I don’t think we will age this wine for too long ;-).

Enjoying some of my favorite beers from Duvel Moortgat

One week ago, my parents visited us all the way from Belgium. It is always super nice to get family visit and especially when it is my parents, as they are so sweet to bring some of my favorite beers. Belgian beers indeed :-).

As we tasted the beers, suddenly I realized that there was a pattern forming in my beer taste. Yes, almost all of them are coming from the same brewery, namely Duvel Moortgat. And we are not only talking about Duvel, but also the brands they have acquired during the years. Here is a small list of some of my favorites:

La Chouffe
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La Chouffe is one of my all-time favorites. Simply so delicious. This beer is one of the best Belgian Blond Strong Ale style beers according to my opinion. The flavour is fruity from the yeast with a nice touch of coriander and a delicate hop balance and finish. Very refreshing in summer, even though the beer has 8% alcohol (v/v).

Vedett Extra Blond
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It was a long time ago I tasted the Vedett Extra Blond, that is why I asked my parents to bring this pilsner to have together with a good BBQ for example. The beer I tasted came out of a can (first time I saw Vedett on can I have to admit). The taste was typical Belgian style pilsner with a good malt hop balance, but the malty taste over-powered a little the flavor. In my view also a bit too light in taste, meaning not enough body in the mouth. Still good for a summer day, but not my favorite pilsner because of the lack of body and the slightly malty aroma.

 

Vedett Extra Ordinary IPA
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Another Vedett example, that I tasted for the first time this year on a holiday in Toulouse. I am very much a fan of IPAs, which I learned to know when I moved to Denmark 6 years ago. This beer style has really exploded in the USA since a long time. Also in Denmark in recent years, this style is very popular. The Belgian brewers hopped quite late on the IPA train, but now more and more Belgian Style IPAs are released. The Vedett IPA is a light IPA example, with smooth bitterness and fruity and herbal hop notes. Again a bit lack of body in my opinion, but nice on a sunny day on a terrace. The bitterness is soft, so a good IPA to get started on an IPA journey if you have never tried this beer style.

Wild Jo Blond
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A Belgian Wild Ale as De Koninck says on their website and yes, wild it is! This Belgian Blond is definitely refermented in the bottle with a Brettanomyces yeast (and maybe also used in the main fermentation). The taste is simply so balanced with the typical touch of a Brettanomyces (Brett). The beer is also dry hopped with European hops and that fruity/herbal aroma blends perfectly with the typical Brett flavor. Very much reminds me of Orval, which is another beer in my top 3 favorite beers. However, the Wild Jo is more balanced in my opinion, especially when drunk at a young age. I look forward to taste a more aged Wild Jo Blond, as I know from Orval experince that ageing Brett beers is always worth the effort and waiting :-).

 

 

 

Bride Blond – to celebrate two 70 years birthdays

The Bride Blond recipe I made in May/June turned out to be a very crispy, nicely fruity and a little phenolic tasting Belgian Blond style beer. At that time, I was asked to brew a beer for a double 70 years birthday party, so I decided to brew another Bride Blond beer, but adjusted the recipe a little bit to get more foam in the glass and to have an even lighter beer (in alcohol and maltiness).
I tried to read up on how you can adjust the foam stability in the glass, as I had foam, but it disappeared quite fast after pouring the beer in the glass:

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First Bride Blond recipe

 

One thing you can do is to add wheat in the malt bill as that will give you more proteins that together with the hop phenols will give you a stable foam. Another thing you can do is mashing at higher temperatures to get more maltodextrins in your final beer which will also help stabilizing the foam. Therefore I bought some body enhancing maltodextrins which you can add before bottling. I am still not sure if I will use those or not.

The color and flavor of my first trial were good, but I still wanted a little less maltiness in the final taste, so that is why decided to add wheat and more oat malt. The malt always smells amazing after milling.
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Then it was time to brew, so I used my favorite Braumeister again and this time brewed only 20 minutes at 63 degrees Celsius and 50 minutes at 73 degrees Celsius to get more maltodextrins in the wort.
For the hops, I also changed the recipe to get a little extra citrus flavor. I used Mittelfrüh as bittering hop and Mittelfrüh + Citra as aroma hops. I love Mittelfrüh for bittering as it is a very delicate hop with a balanced bitterness. Also as aroma it gives you a fruity, spicy and citrus aroma (source: https://ychhops.com/varieties/hallertau-mittlefruh). Citra is very know to give a citrus and tropical aroma.

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After brewing, I filled the fermentation buckets and managed to get around 35 liter final volume, meaning around 32 liter final beer.

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After filling, I cooled down the two fermentation buckets until the next day. I made a yeast starter with 5% light malt and the WLP570 Belgian Golden Ale yeast. I used one sachet per starter to make a fresh starter for every bucket. After overnight culturing the yeast, it was happily bubbling away and I added the starters to the fermentation buckets. I did this in the morning and in the evening, I had happily fermenting buckets :-).

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This time I also aerated the wort before I added the yeast, with a small pump and a stainless steel filter. I aerated for 30 minutes before adding the yeast and I could clearly see that the yeast was very active the next day.
Now it is waiting until the fermentation is over so I can bottle and referment to a hopefully even better Belgian Blond…

Bride Blonde – Belgian style blond ale

One of my first beers I made was our wedding beer, called Bride Blond. A typical Belgian style blond ale. The beer was a big success at our wedding so I decided it was time again to brew the same beer.

I have tried to brew a couple of Tripel and blond style beers in the mean time. However, after I got some comments back from the Danish beer judges (I sent in a beer for the DM i håndbryg competition), it was clear that I needed to change the malt types for the beers. The taste was too much caramel-like, as I used too much biscuit malt in the malt bill.

So that is why I went back to my Bride Blonde beer recipe. The malt bill for this beer is quite simple, only some pilsner malt with some malted oat and a little bit of munich malt as well. On top of this, I also added some light kandis sugar to get the correct alcohol percentage. For the hops, I used a mild bitter hop, Mittelfrüh, which has a nice delicate hop taste.

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On top of the simple malt bill and sugar, I also added some typical spices used in a lot of Belgian style beers: dried orange peel and koriander seeds.

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As usual, I used the Braumeister, my favorite brew system :-).

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I wanted to try 2 yeast types, that is why I brewed around 37-38 liter, so I could split the brew. The two yeast types I used were WLP 510 Bastogne Ale yeast and WLP 570 Belgian Golden Ale yeast. I wanted to see the difference between the two as the WLP 570 is more spicy and fruity while the WLP 510 is more clean in taste with a light acid after taste.

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After filling the wort in two fermentation buckets, I fermented the two different beers at 22 degrees Celsius. The fermentation took two weeks and then the beers matured for another week before bottling.

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The beers were bottled with some added glucose and went into the fermentation cabinet for another 2-3 weeks until it is completely ready. Now it is waiting to be tasted….

 

 

Hops and how to multiply them

I have now 4 hop varieties in my garden: Cascade, Saaz, Styrian Golding and Chinook. I ordered the rhizomes in December 2014 and planted them in March 2015.cropped-img_5197.jpg

The first year I did not expect a big harvest, but I have to admit that I got quite some nice hop bells in September 2015. Especially the Cascade had given quite a good harvest and I used that hop fresh in a hoppy saison version (Saison Maison) as aroma hop in the late boil.

In 2016 I got some ‘real’ harvest and also used that one in some of my beers, but then as a dry hop. I air-dried the hop bells and then used them in the boil. I actually bought a herb dryer now to make sure I have a good quality dry hop which I can vacuum pack afterwards. But that is a story for another time.

Now I want to show you how easy it is how to create new hop plants from your existing hop plants. I got the question from a friend who wanted some of my hops to plant it in his own garden. That is how I started to look up how you can multiply the hop plants in my garden. There is basically three ways:

  1. you multiply the hops by taking some part of the rhizomes
  2. you use the fresh shootings and put them in water to create new roots
  3. you use the fresh shootings and plant them immediately in fresh earth

I tried all three of the ways but only succeeded in the last two. My first attempt to multiply the hops by taking rhizomes did not succeed as I believe my plants are not old enough and it is quite difficult to find the rhizomes under the ground. I also was affraid to harm my hop plants in this way.

That is why I tried the two other options as soon as the first shootings came up. I read that the first shootings are hollow and therefore will break easily when the hops bells are forming in late summer. That is why you need to cut them out to let the next round of shootings survive and take over. They are much stronger and therefore better suited. They are also giving more yield.

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A hollow first hop shooting

 

After I had cut the first shootings, I tried the method of putting them into water and let them root. It took at least three weeks, but after that, the shootings clearly rooted. It took another month before they really started growing wild.

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I was so happy to see this :-). Now I only need to plant them out and hope they are growing.

I also tried the second method, trying to immediately plant them in fresh earth. I did not think this method would work, especially because I  had 6 seedlings, but only two survived. However, those two are also growing after at least 4 weeks of waiting.

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Two hop varieties decided to root: Saaz to the left and Cascade to the right.

 

So, yes, it is possible to multiply the hops in your garden. It is actually quite easy. Just take the first shoots and put them either in water or in fresh earth and off they go. I hope now that my friend can use them and that they will form beautiful new hop plants giving delicious hop bells in autumn :-).