Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gay beers

If you've seen the movie "In Bruges," you will know exactly what "gay beer" stands for. If you haven't seen it, you should (this means you Grandma).

In the film, one of the main characters keeps referring to Belgian beers as gay beers, and his beloved English Pale Ales as regular beers. Truth is, the gay beers are the best beers (I know of at least 7 Germans who will be seriously disappointed by that statement, but it's true). My buddy Ed said before I brewed my first beer something to the effect that brewing is all about making a nice environment for your yeast. Belgian beers are about the character of the yeast driving the flavor and aromas more than any other. And despite the strict nature of the guidelines for beers in general, I feel like I have the most freedom to experiment with these.

Brewing here is highly contingent on temperature control of fermentation, of which I have none. So it's all seasonal. Belgian yeasts have a tendency to be able to deal with higher temperatures, so it is the time of year where Brauerie LaVoy turns into Brasserie LaVoy. Where I go from making Bölkstoff to making something a bit finer.

I'm going to do my gay beers in two parts. Ted has been doing series of beers with the same yeast, and I will try something similar here. The first part will be a series of Abbey style Belgian Ales, a single, a dubbel and a tripel. The second will be a series of Saisons. Some of what I'll be doing will be building on what I've done before. I've done a couple of dubbels, and a couple of Saisons. The overall approach will change a bit. Instead of expensive candi sugars from the home brew store for the higher octane brews, I will be using sugar concoctions that I cook up on my stove. I'm going to experiment with some different grains for the Saisons, especially with spelt (which is an heirloom varietal of wheat).

Needless to say, I am really excited about this. I was driving Kerry crazy last week mulling over whether to start these beers last weekend or not. I decided to wait, because I wanted to be fully ready for these. GAY BEERS!


nhudson said...

I finished up a Saison in a weeks time a few weeks ago. Just remember when doing any kind of Belgian mash at a low temp 144-146 for a good while 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Then mash out and sparge at 156-158. For a Saision just let it ferment at room temp or hotter. I had mine going around 80 degrees. For other Belgians pitch at 66-67 and slowly ramp the temp up 77-78 degrees. The book Brew Like a Monk is a great read and teaches these techniques. Good luck with the brew!!!

nhudson said...

Of course now that I read my comment I feel stupid cause you said you have no fermentation control. Yes you are right in saying they are good yeasts for hotter temps. Just ferment above 70 and they will turn out great.