Friday, July 8, 2016

Spur of the Moment Bière de Garde

There comes a day in every homebrewer's time brewing where there are some extra grains lying around.  Usually it isn't enough to play a big role in a beer but sometimes it could be the perfect amount.  I had a few things left over from past beers and received some new yeast I wanted to brew with so I decided to make a spur of the moment Bière de Garde.

I have used Golden Naked Oats in another Bière de Garde and IPA late last year and earlier this year.  I still have a few pounds of it left.  I also had some Caramunich and a little Special B.  I thought these may be some perfect specialty malts to make a nice amber biere that I can drink late in the Summer into early Fall.

Recipe:  Spur
Brewer:  Gus
Batch:  14
Date:  7-1-16

Batch Size:  6.5 gal
Boil Size:  9.76 gal
Post Boil Volume:  6.76 gal  
Estimated OG:  1.056
Actual OG:  1.057
Estimated Color:  14.6 SRM
Estimated IBU:  23.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency:  74.60% (about 78% on this brew)
Est Mash Efficiency:  74.60%
Boil Time:  120 Minutes

81.5% Pilsner Malt (Avangard)
7.4% Golden Naked Oats (Simpson's)
5.6% Special B (Dingeman's)
5.6% Caramunich III Malt (Weyermann)

23.2 IBUs of Aramis @ 60 min

Wyeast 3864-PC Canadian/Belgian Ale

Mash Schedule:
Temperature mash of 149F for 75 min with a 10 minute mash out at 168F

Check out the contrast in the different grains.  Pretty cool.

This is my first time using a Belgian strain to ferment a Bière de Garde.  With Wyeast having Canadian/Belgian Ale 3864 out now as a PC strain, I decided to use it.  I'm hoping I can ferment in the mid 60s to keep any esters at bay and create a semi clean beer.  After primary fermentation is done, I will set it to lager for 4-6 weeks before bottling.  This time I also plan to use the same yeast to bottle condition the beer.  I'll do the same practice as with Bob's technique but this time using the Belgian strain.

I have to believe that in Northern France where these beers were historically brewed, that there were some farmers/homes using a Belgian strain borrowed from a neighbor who borrowed it from their neighbor who got it from a Belgian brewery.  All that is possible right?  In Phil Markowski's Farmhouse Ales book (get it here if you haven't already) he suggests using clean ale strains to ferment Bières de Garde.  I'm a large fan of White Labs WLP072 French Ale but it being a seasonal Platinum strain it's hard to come by.  I try keeping it around but my culture has definitely taken on a new life and probably has been infected.

Wyeast suggested this yeast for the style in the 2016 release description and I've wanted to use this yeast before when I was making a lot of other Belgian styles.  This way I'm killing two birds as it were.  I've read a few places where Belgian strains are recommended but I have yet to use one myself.  I made a small starter around 800mL for this one the night before.  The next day the flask was full of milky yeast.

Under letting the mash.  I really like doughing in this way.

The mash went very well and I sparged over about an hour to get my boil volume.  I also had better extraction in that my preboil gravity was 1.043 instead of the target 1.038.  Little better mash efficiency.  I boiled this one for 2 hours.  I'm now set on that being the minimum boiling time for the style for me.  I really like the results of going up to 3 hours but I didn't have the time for that this brew day.  I boiled and added the hops with 60 min left in the boil then ran through the heat exchanger and into my Speidel.

Awesome color on the first runnings.

I set the temp to hold at 64F for the first couple of days.  If the beer is slow to start fermenting I'll bump it up.  I'd like to keep the temperatures low to encourage a more clean ferment with lower amounts of esters from the yeast.  I'll ramp as needed to complete fermentation.  I really liked the flavor and aroma of the wort.  Sweet of course but there was some great malt aroma and a nice raisin character that I'm sure came from the Special B malt.

Nothing too exciting on this brew day.  I got to use up some older grains and I'm really liking the color that came out of using them.  I'll let this one sit in cold storage for 4-6 weeks then bottle condition and have tasting notes up soon!

Decent BdG I had on brew day.  A bit sweet and has a grape flavor for me.

Some extra reading that was shared recently on the Farmhouse Facebook can be found here.  I enjoyed reading some brewers talk about Bière de Garde as it's not really a popular subject now.  It could possibly become the new Saison eventually but I doubt it.

Also some pretty good guidelines for Bières de Garde.  I feel these are pretty accurate for the style.  More so than the BJCP's guidelines in the past.


7-2-16:  Fermentation started by 6AM.  Pretty vigorous fermentation at that!

7-3-16:  Raised temp to 66F.  Fermentation was still going but not as quite as busy as the day before.

7-5-16:  Set temp to 68F to hopefully finish the fermentation.  Still steady activity showing in the airlock.

7-12-16:  CO2 still off gassing from the airlock.  The yeast is still working!

7-31-16:  Pulled my first sample.  Really clear so I'm sure most of the yeast has flocculated out and fermentation is over.  I REALLY enjoyed the flavors of this one.  Malty and just a hint of sweetness but not a ton.  Few esters but nothing you typically get from Belgian yeast.  Gravity was sitting at 1.010 so I set the freezer tempt o 50F to start the lagering process.  I'll bump it down further over the next few days.  I'm thinking a portion of this will go into secondary with some brettanomyces but the majority will be packaged clean.

10-7-16:  Kegged and bottled.  Decided to package all clean with this batch.  Still some dark fruit notes and slight bit of yeast character but definitely seems very clean.

Tasting notes here!

Good things!

Andrew "Gus" Addkison
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