Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A quick homebrewing update...

How the time does fly...

Since someone was so kind to ask, the chocolate cardamom ale ("Lune de Miel", see here and here) has aged fairly well. The chocolate flavor hasn't really come through, though I think it gives the beer a slightly thicker body and just a hint of non-hop bitterness in the background. The cardamom has become a bit more assertive, creating a mildly astringent sensation on the pallet (not unlike what can happen with chamomille, which is something I've also brewed with).

Personally, I think it's just a bit too sweet--or rather, it lacks the necessary depth of flavor to make the sweetness less overpowering. (Think, for example, about Ommegang, which is very sweet but sufficiently complex that you aren't overwhelmed by the sweetness.) However, it is still very refreshing, with a nice mild estery presence. A good warm-weather alternative to lagers and blondes.

I think if I revisit this ale, I will probably add some orange peel and maybe look at making the grain bill a bit "meatier". Any suggestions from folks with some experience in Belgian styles in particular (Ben, I'm looking in your general direction) would be welcome and much appreciated.

Hope all's well with everyone around the Beer 'Sphere...I've been busy looking for another job, and I think I have finally found one. More on that later...


  • At 6:55 PM, Blogger Adam said…

    It sounds like you want to support the sweetness. If you didn't want to do that you could try fermenting it out with a more alcohol resilient yeast. Not sure that would go well with the belgian style though...hmmm.

    I know that pitching champagne yeast in my barley wine to finish the fermentation changed the character tremendously. Now its not overpoweringly sweet...instead its drier and the hops comes through more.

    Yours truely a semi-novice extract brewer.

  • At 8:39 AM, Blogger Ben, aka BadBen said…

    I can't comment on the grain bill, since I don't know your recipe.
    You have two choices to balance your Belgian-style ale, next time around. You can either dry it out, or balance the sweetness with sour or bitter.

    Usually, sour is the choice with many Belgian styles. This can be accomplished with orange/grapefruit peels, certain juices (in small proportions), or spices/herbs. For instance, I've used diverse ingredients such as pomegranate juice, kumquats, lavender, etcetera to change the balance somewhat. As far as spices go, a little goes a LONG WAY...especially with a spice as pugnacious as cardamon.

    The other method to less-sweet can be had by drying it out, somewhat. You can be brave and use a strain of Brett., or do what I do in most cases...use more fermentation time, temperature variation and a stronger yeast. For instance, I brewed a Belgian strong dark ale a few months ago, and I'll finally transfer it to kegs today. During secondary fermentation, I added Trappist Ale yeast and some boiled fermentable sugar (Jaggery), and let it be for a month. Then I raised the temperature to 85F for 5 days, let it sit for 5 more, hen I transferred it to tertiary fermentation and let it sit for another month.

    With Belgian styles, patience is definitely a virtue. I've never brewed a Belgian that didn't have AT LEAST 2 months of fermentation/conditioning time.

  • At 11:54 PM, Blogger Brian said…



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