The pilot brewing system arrived about a month ago and I immediately put it into service brewing test batches. Here’s a quick rundown of some things we’ve been working on:
Thai/asian spiced Belgian witbier: The idea for this beer came to me when I heard about the Bruery’s Tradewinds Tripel, which is a tripel spiced with fresh basil leaves. I’m a big fan of Thai food, so I thought that ginger and lemongrass would work nicely in a witbier. For the spicing I used fresh lemongrass and ginger root, along with a blend of Indian coriander and normal coriander. The Indian coriander has a much brighter, fruiter quality than the regular coriander, which has a heavier, woody aroma. This beer turned out really well and there’s a good chance some version of it will make it into Westbrook Brewing’s main lineup.
Table Saison: Saison is one of our favorite beer styles, but most of the examples around today tend to be fairly high (7% or greater) in alcohol content. So, we thought it would be great to have a really flavorful saison that won’t knock you out if you drink two (or more) glasses of it. To make it interesting, we hopped it with the Sorachi Ace hop, which has a really great lemony, grassy character. This one also came out really well. I think it would make a good summer seasonal.
Belgian IPA: This is a tricky one. I’ve brewed several versions, ranging from a standard American IPA fermented with a Belgian yeast to a Belgian tripel with American hops. The problem is that Belgian yeasts have characteristics that sometimes don’t blend well with or get obscured by the assertive American hop varieties. The next iteration of this beer will probably be a strong golden ale base with mainly English/continental European hops. I plan to split the batch 4 ways and ferment it with 4 different Belgian yeasts to see what happens.
Quadruple/Belgian Strong Dark: This is a fairly standard quad, around 12% abv. Rather than use a lot of specialty malts like some recipes do, I stuck with mostly pale and Munich malts, with dark candi syrup added for dryness and flavor. A beer like this is a great base for experimentation, and right now I have some souring with a blend of cultures I’ve grown from various bottles of commercial lambics and other sour beers.
100% Brett Blonde: This is basically a Belgian blonde ale, but fermented entirely with Brettanomyces Claussenii, which is a strain of “wild” yeast isolated from an English stock ale. This beer smells extremely funky, but has a surprisingly mellow, pleasant flavor with just a hint of sourness. A lot of people who say they aren’t “beer drinkers” who have tried this beer seem to like it a lot.
Maximum Strength Golden Ale: South Carolina’s legal limit for the alcohol content of beer is 17.5% by volume, so naturally we need to brew a beer that’s right up there! The first version came out to a little over 16%, but can easily be bumped up on the next go. We added honey, Muscat grape concentrate, and unrefined dark sugar during the fermentation, which gave the beer a really beautiful deep gold color. There’s some honey-like sweetness up front, but the beer finishes dry enough to be dangerously drinkable.
Those are just some of the highlights; we’ve got a lot more up our sleeve!