About a month ago Josh Hubner and I brewed a beer. This beer was more ceremonious than all of the other beers we’ve ever made. After this brew we each got to check an item off our bucket list: take a homebrew recipe and brew it on the big boy system. Next week, we’ll have a release party for our beer.
Originally, Josh and I brewed a Belgian IPA for a homebrew contest in the summer of 2011. “Wandering Belgian” IPA, brewed at Lost Rhino Brewing Company, is similar to that first beer we brewed in 2011 but more in concept than palate.
Josh and I owe our sincere thanks to Head Brewer Favio Garcia for allowing us to experiment in his brew house. To be fair to Favio, Josh and I had already done the experimentation in small-scale batches. Over the course of four test batches we altered the malt bill.
We altered the hop schedule. We tinkered with adjuncts and partial decoctions and decided candi sugar was the way to go. We brewed commercial clones to see how beautiful the interplay between one malt, some candi sugar, American and noble hops, and Belgian yeast can be.
Obviously, our ale was not made in Belgium. However, our malt was. Belgian Pilsner 2-row pale malt and a couple sacks of Canadian “Superior Pilsen Malt” made it in the mash tun too. A tiny amount of German acidulated malt, to balance out the Ph of our all-Pilsner malt bill, is undetectable in the finished product. We also used Belgian Amber Candi Syrup. It didn’t make the beer much darker—taking it from a straw to a golden color—but does contribute a drier finish. Lastly we used American hops, both “noble” and domestic varietals.
We used Columbus and Hallertau to bitter the beer at the beginning of the boil and kept adding them throughout. We used two whole-leaf kilos, Cascade and Saaz, in the hopback. To dry hop we used 11 lbs of Cascade.
“Wandering Belgian” IPA is over 6% alcohol by volume (it started at 15° Plato, ~1.061 OG, and is likely ~1.013 FG) and over 60 IBUs. It has a great bouquet formed by the interplay of yeast and hops. There is a lingering bitterness, from the hops, that breaks through the yeast-derived flavors—little fruit, little spice, and little hints of bubblegum. It’s got a dry finish and is a modestly complex beer.
It will be released at Smoke & Barrel on Wednesday October 17, so stay tuned for details and we'll see you at the release.