Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Blended Belgian IPA - Step Two, Belgian Tripel

I had planned to brew a Belgian tripel this weekend, but with the girlfriend out of town and two and an half pounds of fresh hops in my fridge from my day of hop pickin, I figured what the hell I'd brew an IPA as well. Two brews in one day was not something I'd attempted before, and despite some minor setbacks it went off smoothly over a course of about 11 hours. I actually brewed the Tripel second, but seeing as all I've talked about lately is hops and IPAs, I figured I'd mix it up a bit and save the IPA for the next post.

My interest in Belgian beers has been growing recently and I wanted to branch out from the saisons I have brewed in the past. A tripel seemed a good beer to attempt as it is a style I enjoy and would work well for my planned blended Belgian IPA. I've also wanted to try my hand at brewing a Trappist beer (beer brewed in Trappist monasteries primarily in Belgium) as I've recently been doing a fair amount of reading on these historic beverages.

Belgian brewing epitomises much that I find magical about the craft of brewing. Style certainly exists, but the emphasis is more on experimenting and pushing boundaries than staying within them. Normal rules of brewing don't apply, or are polar opposites of much held as solemn truth. Using sugar in beer? That's for hillbillies, right? Unless you're brewing Belgium style, and then its pretty much required. The most important thing in brewing is cleanliness and preventing contamination, right? Unless you're in a Belgian lambic brewery, where they never clean, spiders are sacred, and the inoculating yeast falls from the rafters. If German style is the reasonable, orderly, calculating brewer of Apollo, then Belgian style is the wild, raucous, throw caution to the wind brewer of Dionysus. Guess which one I like better.

For this brew I had ordered a yeast that produces low amounts of isoamyl acetate, the banana-like ester that tends to plague some North American brewed Belgian beers that is a particular dislike of mine. This being my first tripel I didn't want to get too wild so I kept the grain bill simple and the hops noble, but as an added twist I used some pale Turbinado in the place of white sugar. Using unrefined sugars in beer is a mainstay of Randy Mosher, author of Radical Brewing, a book that is a must read for a developing brewer. When this beer is ready I'll blend it with the IPA and see what happens. Until next time...

Belgian Tripel

Malted Wheat

Styrian Goldings

Turbinado partially refined sugar

Wyeast Trappist High Gravity

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