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I'm a Biere de Garde newbie

Gang: On another board, we’re talking about this style. I picked up some hops that were new to me (Hallertau Select, Hallertau Opal, Brewer’s Gold, French Strisselspalt) and some people mentioned making a Biere de Garde. I have mentioned that I am not a fan of Belgian beers but I have been told that this style does not have that complex, spicy, funky, phenolic, bubble-gummy, barnyard-like thing going on. I did some research on the style and read some very interesting articles (including THIS
http://allaboutbeer.com/article/bieres-de-garde-frances-road-less-traveled/
one) and came up with a recipe that is a little lower in OG than a typical Biere de Garde. It seems to be a pretty open style so it seems like anything goes. Also, in May & June, White Labs releases their WLP072 French Ale which is supposed to be very good for this style and is still clean, low esters, etc. Can anyone give me any direction or poke holes in this recipe?

[b]Biere de Garde

7 lbs Rahr Pale Ale malt
2 lbs Best Malz Munich 10L
8 ounces Belgian CaraMunich 45L
8 ounces Brown Sugar
1 oz Brewers Gold pellets 5.9% for 60
1 oz French Strisselspalt pellets 2.8% for 1
White Labs 011 Euro Ale yeast

OG: 1.056, FG: 1.014, IBU: 25, SRM: 9, ABV: 5.4%
[/b]

I would mash on the low side (149-ish) to get the dryness required for the style and the brown sugar is there for a bit of flavor but also for the dryness. The WLP011 is supposed to be clean but ‘different’. Thoughts?

I’m no expert, but will chime in with my 2 cents anyway. I’d suggest looking into the belgian candy syrup instead of brown sugar. Perhaps they are the same thing one liquid one granules, but my limited experience says go with the belgian syrup for a cleaner finish.
I’m also a fan of wyeast 3711. I used it twice and got few esters or peppery spice. I fermented on the low side. I recommend it for it’s silky finish - there’s none like it and I think it would complement your hops well. The best of this style have a lot to them yet deliver it with a light “digestive” finish.

I’m interested in the other board. The people on this forum are the best, and other forums are full of dough heads, but am wondering where else to listen when the going gets slow here. - sorry, don’t mean to jack your topic.

Great article btw.

Thanks for the reply. I have mentioned to some of my close brewing buds (both personal and digital) that I have tried numerous Belgian beers and do not care for them. Leffe Blond, Kwak, Chimay, etc. I have tried many and do not care for the character I get like the ones I mentioned in my OP. 3711 was bounced around by some brewers but others said to try something else because 3711 can create some flavors that one would easily associate with Belgian beers. This led to the suggestion of WLP011 and also WLP072 which is only available in May and June. I will check out the candi syrup too. The other board (my main board) is HERE

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I’m a big fan of the style (even though I’m a hop head) and personally, I think of a Biere de Garde as a big, malty beer with a higher ABV then you listed. You definitely want it to finish with a low FG so mashing low is a good idea, but I’d up the OG into the 1.065-1.075 range, but that’s just my opinion.

I’ve used 3711 many times, but never for the style. If you do go that way, be sure to keep the temps very low so you don’t get many esters. That yeast will kick off a lot if the temp rises. On the plus side, it will finish very low.

One key to the style is a longer than normal cold conditioning. You pretty much want to lager this beer for a month or two.

You may want to check out this link for yeast sources

http://www.mrmalty.com/yeast.htm

Mr. England put that together and he has a lot of credibility with me. Unfortunately, there’s no info on 072 on that link.

WLP011 doesn’t look like a saison type source. I’m no fan of funk either and if you ferment it cool, 3711 will finish clean, crisp and silky.

[quote=“dobe12”]I’m a big fan of the style (even though I’m a hop head) and personally, I think of a Biere de Garde as a big, malty beer with a higher ABV then you listed. You definitely want it to finish with a low FG so mashing low is a good idea, but I’d up the OG into the 1.065-1.075 range, but that’s just my opinion.

I’ve used 3711 many times, but never for the style. If you do go that way, be sure to keep the temps very low so you don’t get many esters. That yeast will kick off a lot if the temp rises. On the plus side, it will finish very low.

One key to the style is a longer than normal cold conditioning. You pretty much want to lager this beer for a month or two.[/quote]
I typically make beers in the 5% range because I just don’t enjoy bigger beers like many in our hobby. For that reason, I often make styles by keeping the OG in the range that I prefer. A style that absolutely needs a higher ABV may be out of my reach if that ‘hot’ flavor is a part of the style. But for my tastes, I would like to keep the ABV lower but I did bring it up a bit higher than I would normally make. Also, I make a lot of lagers so allowing the beer to sit a bit is no problem at all.

[quote=“jtb”]You may want to check out this link for yeast sources

http://www.mrmalty.com/yeast.htm

Mr. England put that together and he has a lot of credibility with me. Unfortunately, there’s no info on 072 on that link.

WLP011 doesn’t look like a saison type source. I’m no fan of funk either and if you ferment it cool, 3711 will finish clean, crisp and silky.[/quote]
Thank you for the link. I was under the impression that Saison and Biere de Garde (while similar) are not the same style which is why other strains were suggested to me. If I were to use 3711, what temp would you suggest fermenting at? I often ferment my ales cool (in a tub of water and sometimes with frozen water bottles to keep the temp in the 60-65° range) so keeping the temp down is no problem. Also, I want to make it clear that I’m looking to make a beer that is outside my experience and I don’t necessarily want to reinvent it… but if the style is not my cup of beer, I don’t want to make 5 gallons of it either. It occurs to me that the malt and hops can be futzed with all day but it’s the yeast that will drive the character and I am not familiar with any of these yeasts. I brewed with Wyeast 1214 one time and thought I might zuke… too bubble-gummy. Cheers guys.

IMO Saisons and BDG are very different styles. A BDG will not have the same Belgian esters that most Belgian beers do. BDG should be more malty and on the sweeter side, where as a Saisons should have more esters and spicy flavors. Both should finish with a low FG leaving a more boozy and thinner beer, but a BDG is much maltier to help balance that out.

I think 3711 could work, but again, I’d ferment low (where you normally ferment) in the low 60’s. I really like 3711 for Saisons because of the amazing esters it produces, but I wouldn’t think they’re appropriate for a BDG.

I checked my notes and I fermented it at 67. At that time I was fermenting with ambient temps and was happy to have it at 67 as I didn’t want any funk. It would be great at 64-65.
My FG was 1.004. The last points are slow in shedding, but the yeast keeps chugging along. That’s the silky dry finish I reckon. The White Labs french ale is probably similar, but am not familiar with its particulars at all.

The WLP072 French Ale is described as “clean” and “low esters” which sound good. My goal here is to make a style I haven’t made and maybe get some good things from it without the risk of making 5 gallons of something I won’t like. I could try some commercial examples but I still wouldn’t know what yeast to use. I find myself using American Ale yeasts (1056, 1272, 1764, 001, 090) and British ale yeasts (1968, 1028, 1099, 1469) and German/Czech lager strains (2124, 2206, 2308, 2278) almost exclusively and one reason for that is that I like clean profiles… clean, neutral yeast and clean hops. It makes it tough to branch out yeast-wise.

I checked my notes and I fermented it at 67. At that time I was fermenting with ambient temps and was happy to have it at 67 as I didn’t want any funk. It would be great at 64-65.
My FG was 1.004. The last points are slow in shedding, but the yeast keeps chugging along. That’s the silky dry finish I reckon. The White Labs french ale is probably similar, but am not familiar with its particulars at all.[/quote]

Not to argue or nitpick, but 3711 won’t add any “funk” to a beer. “Funk” comes from Brett. 3711 will lend spicy, peppery flavors. Maybe even some citrus according to Wyeast, but I mostly get spicy. What it will do is really enhance spicy hop flavors and and spices you may add.

I checked my notes and I fermented it at 67. At that time I was fermenting with ambient temps and was happy to have it at 67 as I didn’t want any funk. It would be great at 64-65.
My FG was 1.004. The last points are slow in shedding, but the yeast keeps chugging along. That’s the silky dry finish I reckon. The White Labs french ale is probably similar, but am not familiar with its particulars at all.[/quote]

Not to argue or nitpick, but 3711 won’t add any “funk” to a beer. “Funk” comes from Brett. 3711 will lend spicy, peppery flavors. Maybe even some citrus according to Wyeast, but I mostly get spicy. What it will do is really enhance spicy hop flavors and and spices you may add.[/quote]
So does it have that complex, barnyard-like, phenolic, estery thing going on? I wish I could describe what it is that I don’t like about these strains but someone once suggested I try Leffe Blond because they said it was the “least offensive” of the Belgian beers. I was offended. :lol: I just did not care for something in the character of the yeast.

It doesn’t give that flavor that you are speaking of which I can only characterize as “Belgian” flavor. It’s more of a spicy flavor. And IMO, yes it is quite strong. I’ve never fermented cool with 3711 because when I use it I’m really looking for those flavors to shine, so I ferment warm. I usually start around 70F and let it climb up into the 80’s. I have to think fermenting cool (60-64) would help suppress those flavors, but judging by what you’re looking for, you may want to stay away from that yeast all together. And again IMO, that yeast wouldn’t be a good match for BDG. You would want a more neutral Belgian or French yeast strain. For a BDG you really want a malt forward, sweeter, smooth beer. Typically they are stronger and a little boozy, but I don’t see why you couldn’t tone that down a bit.

Yeah, I think you’re right on. The WLP011 is a low-attenuater & high floccer so it would leave some residual sweetness behind but the lower mash temp could bring out some dryness along with the sugar. I’ll be honest, the WLP011 is not exiting me as much as the WLP072 but I’d have to wait for that one. Maybe someone makes a nice French yeast that is available all the time? The homework I have been doing is fascinating and the Alsace region beers along with the Nord-Pas-de-Calais beers sound like they would be fun to try to make. Everything I read tells me that these French beers are NOT like Belgian beers and my guess is that the French Ale yeasts might give it a unique character. Thanks for the help guys… much appreciated.

I just looked over Wyeast’s site and this sounds like a very good match for what you are trying to do and like.

http://www.wyeastlab.com/rw_yeaststrain ... cfm?ID=130

I’ve never used this yeast so I can’t comment directly, but the description sounds right on.
I’d definitely still keep the temps in the low 60’s.

I’ve used Belgian Abbey II and 3711, and I suggest 3711. I am familiar with the beers you like and the farmhouse funk - and many call it funk - not just from brett - that you don’t like. I doubt you are able to get Lift Bridge’s Farm Girl - but that is a very clean “farmhouse” ale. My saison made with 3711 tasted just like it but a bit cleaner. I then made NB’s saison de’noel - fermented a bit cooler 63-64 and got little to none of the spiciness and no farmhouse nastiness. Belgian Abbey II - my experience with that is not so reliable as my ferment temps were higher - I got a bit of booziness I did not care for. French ales are under-rated - as the tone of your article suggested - so too - I think 3711 receives the same judgement.

I thought the Abbey strains had that bubble-gummy booziness too but of course, I have not brewed with it. Maybe I need to talk to one of the local brewers who is into Belgians and ask him about it or even pay him a visit and try some of his beers made with the various strains so I can tell what their like. I appreciate the replies guys… thanks again.

Of course everyone tastes different, but I really think we’re mixing terminologies here which is confusing me. “Funk” is used to describe wild or sour beers that have used Brett. Neither 3711 or 1762 will lend a “funk” flavor. They may lend a distinct Belgian yeast flavor (phenols and esters), but that is very different than “funk”. Having said that, I personally think 3711 as a very spicy characteristic not common to Biere de Garde. I’ve never used 1762, but Wyeast says:

An excellent yeast strain for use in Belgian dark strong ales. This strain has a relatively “clean profile” which allows a rich malt and distinctive ethanol character to shine. Delicate dried fruit esters can be produced when used at higher fermentation temperatures or in a high gravity wort.

which is exactly what I’d want in a BDG.

But with all yeast, you’ll get wildly different flavors depending on fermentation temps, so I’m sure you can limit the amount of Belgian esters with reducing ferm temp.

EDIT: I will add I think we’re just using different terminology and are really talking about the same thing.

[quote=“dobe12”]Of course everyone tastes different, but I really think we’re mixing terminologies here which is confusing me. “Funk” is used to describe wild or sour beers that have used Brett. Neither 3711 or 1762 will lend a “funk” flavor. They may lend a distinct Belgian yeast flavor (phenols and esters), but that is very different than “funk”. Having said that, I personally think 3711 as a very spicy characteristic not common to Biere de Garde. I’ve never used 1762, but Wyeast says:

An excellent yeast strain for use in Belgian dark strong ales. This strain has a relatively “clean profile” which allows a rich malt and distinctive ethanol character to shine. Delicate dried fruit esters can be produced when used at higher fermentation temperatures or in a high gravity wort.

which is exactly what I’d want in a BDG.

But with all yeast, you’ll get wildly different flavors depending on fermentation temps, so I’m sure you can limit the amount of Belgian esters with reducing ferm temp.

EDIT: I will add I think we’re just using different terminology and are really talking about the same thing.[/quote]
Yes, I think you’re right. I say ‘funky’ to describe flavors that I do not care for but that’s not very descriptive. The phenols and esters and ‘complex’ flavors I’m referring to are flavors that any beer drinker would associate with Belgian beers. I am not referring to Brett beers when I say funky. I just emailed my buddy (Belgian brewer) and he says he has 3711 up & running at all times in his brewery and he thinks it’s a great yeast. I don’t know if it’s meant for Biere de Garde or not but maybe I could try one of his beers. He also said he tried WLP011 and did not care for it… something I was concerned about because I think it’s also known by Wyeast as 1338 (or 1388?) Euro Ale which I tried once and did not care for. Hmm… decisions.

I prefer a BdG to not have any of the typical “Belgian” character and 3711, while fantastic for Saisons, adds too much clove and pepper for my tastes (for this style, love it in Saisons). I’ve made BdG a couple times using WY1007 then lagering for at least 3-4 months and the end result is spectacular.

A-ha. A new perspective. “Clove” is something that I am not in favor of and I recognize it as something that comes through in Belgian beers. If 3711 creates that character, I’m not about it. I could see 1007 although I would consider it to lean so much to the German side of things. Shadetree, I appreciate the feedback.

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