Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Belgians

I am a relatively new convert to the wonders of Belgian beers. All I have found in researching what makes them unique is references to the positive brewing climate in Belgium, and the long tradition.

I would like to know, a bit more scientifically speaking, what makes Belgian beers so damn good?!
My theory is the yeast strains are unique, and lend a load of subtle, intertwined flavors to the brew. The malt and hops don’t seem to me to be very different, although the ABV is normally a tad higher than some. Is this right?

Yeast is definitely the secret ingredient for Belgians. Other ingredients that often differentiate some Belgians from other beer styles are Special B, Aromatic, and candi syrup.

Even within different Belgians, yeast can be the factor that differentiates styles. From the Belgian Strong Ale section in Brewing Classic Styles:

Read Brew Like a Monk, if you haven’t already. He covers a lot of the fermentation processes, etc, of the Trappist breweries. It’s a really good read.

I have always said Belgians do everything wrong brewing and make the best beer in the world. Need some yeast? Open a window. Add more sugar than anyone would dream of. Ferment way to warm. Use stale hops. Add unusual spices. Sure is some great beer though.

Thanks Brewing Rover. I emailed a link to Amazon and Brew Like a Monk to the Mrs. I am tough to buy gifts for so there was a hint. It is about time I read it.

[quote=“KISS Brew”]Yeast is definitely the secret ingredient for Belgians. Other ingredients that often differentiate some Belgians from other beer styles are Special B, Aromatic, and candi syrup.

Even within different Belgians, yeast can be the factor that differentiates styles. From the Belgian Strong Ale section in Brewing Classic Styles:

[quote]
You may have noticed that the grain bills and fermentation temperatures of the pale styles in this category are fairly similar. The biggest difference from beer to beer is mainly the starting gravity and yeast strain used. The brewing process has an effect, too, but fermentation is the most critical aspect for brewing many Belgian beers.
[/quote][/quote]

+1 to this ^^^. There are several factors, but yeast is the biggie. Belgian strains lend wildly different flavors to a beer compared to more ‘standard’ yeast strains.

[quote=“BrewingRover”]Read Brew Like a Monk, if you haven’t already.[/quote]+1 One of the best brewing books - tons of useful info and interesting to read, too.

Thanks, guys, I will look that up. As an afterthought, has anyone here brewed in a non-Belgian fashion, but with Belgian yeast strains, and what results did you notice?

Go out and buy yourself a Belgian IPA. Very untraditional Belgian beer, but damn tasty! I brewed and had one on tap about a month ago. Well, I kicked the keg about a month ago and was very sad to see it go. I came up with my recipe after drinking Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch Belgian IPA. There’s a lot of different flavors going on. Malty, hoppy (I like a blend of American citrus and spicy German hops) and then the Belgian yeast lends another whole layer of flavors. Crazy good, crazy complex beer IMO.

I think the essence of Belgian brewing is a lack of rigid style guidelines. It’s like the “un-Germany”. It’s almost as if their brewing traditions evolved to give the Rhineheitsgebot the finger! The trappist monks certainly have some specific styles but other than that, it’s pretty wide open. Ferment pretty much any recipe with a Belgian yeast strain and you’ll get those signature esters. I love a good “bubble gummy” dubbel. I did a 10 gallon batch of a basic pale ale recipe and fermented 5 with Northwest ale and 5 with Belgian Saison, you’d never have guessed they came from the same wort!! Try it out, you’ll learn a ton and probably make 2 tasty brews in the process.
The rule is, there are no rules!!

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com