Friday, February 24, 2012

Ale of Olympus Belgian Tripel

I may have finally gone too far. Several months ago when I suggested the idea to a few people of making a Belgian beer with saffron threads and chantrelle mushrooms, they were sceptical to say the least. But this idea wouldn't go away, and neither would the belief that it could be amazing, so after testing the waters with my first tripel The Unbeliever, I decided to go for broke.

The idea came from Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing, a fantastic book if you haven't read it, full of a lifetime worth of loose cannon home brewing. I love it. Anyways, inside Mosher has a recipe for Chantrelle Ale, which he describes as one of his most popular beers, despite its extreme weirdness. It was with this recipe that the idea got started. I figured if you could use chantrelles, why not add saffron? Although my recipe bears no relation to Randy's apart from the mushrooms, it was here the idea was born.

The first step was to soak the chopped chantrelles in vodka for a couple weeks, a process that produced a vivid orange liquid with an aroma both earthy and reminiscent of apricots. Once this was done, it was time to brew.

The tripel itself I made similar to my last recipe, but reduced the alcohol content to around 9% abv, and cut the hops way back to allow the special ingredients to be better displayed. The brew went off well and after primary fermentation I added in the saffron to the secondary, turning the beer a vivid orange.

The day before bottling I did a tasting to see how much of the chantrelle vodka to add. The tasting was similar to the blending of my Belgian IPA, but way less chaotic. In the end I decided the right amount to add was... well, I can't give away everything. I was amazed however at the way the chantrelles interacted with the saffron making the beer's flavour much more complex, and really turning this into an interesting and surprisingly drinkable beer, even at the bottling stage. We will see what time and carbonation do to this strangest of beers from Basement Breweries.

Ingredients: Belgian pilsner malt, wheat malt, aromatic malt, white sugar, Styrian goldings, Czech saaz, saffron threads, chantrelle mushrooms 

1 comment:

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