Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Recipe and Tasting Notes: Belgian Rye

Brewery: Bear Flavored
Style: Belgian Rye
Brewed: 11.20.2011
ABV: 7.3%

All my brews since the first two have been my own creations — maybe loosely based on a couple different recipes I had seen online, but definitely tweaked enough that I could call them my own. With this one — what I'm calling a "Belgian Rye" now for simplicity's sake, but originally gave the name "Arctolatry Ale" — I decided to totally abandon style guidelines, and basically threw a bunch malts together that I thought might combine into something interesting.

The combination ended up with surprising potential, though it'll need some tweaking. It's spicy, malty and Belgiany, so there you go — certainly one of the most unique beers I've brewed or even bought lately. Belgian yeast and rye malt seem to work well together — both have a unique spicy character, so why not? Special roast gives a nice malty backbone, though maybe a bit much. And since the final gravity finished a bit high (in layman's terms: too much residual sugar that didn't get fermented), this is, once again, a sweeter beer than I'd like. Sweet and spicy in other things is a great combo, but here, the sweetness should be more of an afterthought to keep things clean. The malts almost accomplish that, but then an overly-rich aftertaste kicks in that verges on sticky and cloying. Not that it makes my Belgian Rye unpleasant to drink, mind you — it's just very easy to pinpoint how it could be better.

The final ingredient, what I had hoped might be the secret ingredient, was a minuscule amount of cherrywood smoked malt — I thought maybe just that hint of smoked malt could give it an interesting but indecipherable hint of 'something.' It would seem that smoked malt, even in trace amounts, still adds plenty of character. (It's also fairly amazing how much actual cherry flavor the smoked malt imparts.) Some of the sweetness here I attribute to that malt, and the hint of smokiness seems to latch onto the rye, adding to the spice in the aftertaste, sticking to the tongue along with the rich sweetness. It's interesting, but I don't think it's for the better — there are too many smokey / spicy flavors competing for attention.

Carbonation came out very low for a Belgian-style beer — looking at my notes, I guess I just decided not to add all that much priming sugar for some reason — and a boost there would also probably give Belgian Rye a lot more brightness and zing. (What this beer needs is definitely more zing.)

Nonetheless, I think I'm a few tweaks away from a winning combo, and this isn't a bad start. Whenever I get around to brewing this again, I would cut the cherrywood smoked malt completely, bump up the rye just slightly, keep the special roast about where it's at and significantly increase the sugar addition to make this come out much drier and crisper. There's some acid malt in there that I thought might add a hint of tang, but that did nothing, and that can go too. Carbonation should be medium high, as with most Belgians.

I also need to experiment with Belgian yeast other than Belgian Ardennes, but that's a whole other story.

4 Gal., Partial Mash
OG: 1.072
FG: 1.018

21.5 % Belgian Pilsner 2 row
7.6 % rye malt
5.7 % acid malt
2.4 % special roast
1.6 % cherrywood smoked malt
57.3 % pale LME

Hop Schedule-
28 IBU
0.5 oz Summit @60
0.5 oz Summit @8
0.5 oz Palisade @5
0.5 oz Palisade @0

Wyeast Belgian Ardennes

1 comment:

  1. My kind of recipe! Rye malt, Palisades, and Summit. Fantastic hops


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