Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Biere de la Voie

I think that most people get the idea that the French are mostly effeminate snooty wine drinkers. I'm sure that unless you're a big beer fiend/brewer, most Americans are completely unaware that the French really have a beer style all their own. I confirmed this the other day at work, when I quizzed six dudes about French beer (one of whom used to bar tend).

Biere de Garde is a style that is a close cousin to the Belgian farmhouse Ales. In theory it's the beer of the miners, farmers and drunken cycling fans lining the cobblestone sections of the Paris-Roubaix. In brewing practice terms, it's an ale that is fermented at low ale temps, and then lagered (garde being the French counterpart for the German word lager) for a period of time. It's got a malty backbone that would be similar to some Belgian beers, or even the German Altbier, and the hoppiness should tend to be a bit more spicy as opposed to fruity. Like some French brewer found some two year old hops in his hayloft, and decided, what the hell, I'll use them anyway. So then:

Biere de la Voie-

Fermentables-
Belgian Two Row Pale- 7 lbs
Vienna- 2 lbs
Munich Light- 1 lb
Crystal 40L- 3.5 oz- I had actually planned on 8 ounces, but this is what I had in stock. It was more of a coloring addition than for flavor, so no big deal.
Table sugar- 8 oz

Hops-
Fuggle- 1.25 oz- 60 minutes
Mount Hood- 1 oz- 10 minutes

Yeast-
Wyeast 1007 German Ale- 1000 ml starter. This was what Wyeast recommends for Biere De Garde, and I happened to have it to hand, so it worked out nicely.

Mash-
149/168- hot water infusion

Gravity target/actual-
1.058/1.058

Another ho hum brewday. Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy myself. Just that nothing went wrong. I nailed all my temps. I nailed my target gravity. I guess I'm going to have to start writing a little more about why I'm choosing what I am for ingredients, or else I'll have nothing to write about.

As far as the ingredients go, I pretty much went with a standard Biere De Garde grain bill list. Table sugar to dry it out a little. The yeast is not typically a high attenuator, but the low mash temp, along with the sugar should get me to 80%. I'm going to start doing a force fermentation from now on to figure out what my actual terminal gravity will be, but I didn't have the extra yeast to do so this time.

Speaking of the yeast. If you ever decide to use Wyeast 1007, use a blow off tube. I do not have one at the moment, and it went absolutely crazy with this beer, blowing the carboy cap off twice. I suppose I could have tried to harvest the yeast off my pantry floor, but it's probably not the most...ahem...sanitary place to get your brewing yeast. A true top fermenting yeast. On the bright side, our furnace died sometime Saturday night, and the yeast kept working even though the temps strayed down into lager territory. I haven't tasted a beer that I've made with this yet, but I like how it works in a technical sense.

3 comments:

Eric Wilmoth said...

I so need to come and drink some of your beer.

Kevin LaVoy said...

Well, then come visit bitch!

Eric Wilmoth said...

Actually, I've been invited to Chicago for New Years, so if you'll be around during that week I'll likely be in town several days before and after, and would definitely plan to spend a couple in your company.

I'll give you a shout soon and start making some plans...to drink your beer!