Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's been done before

This is a strange beer but perhaps less strange to me than other people because I have done this experiment before. Stone Cali-Belgique IPA is a curious mix of their standard IPA with the addition of a Belgian yeast strain. I managed to do something similar quite by accident a few years ago when I brewed a hop driven pale ale using Amarillo and accidentally pitched a packet of Saf Ale T58 instead of the far more suitable S05. Both the packets are pink you see, and I hurriedly grabbed the wrong one. The result was a very strange beer that I didn't really enjoy. Much the same can be said about this IPA. It is immensely bitter, which is no surprise considering it comes from the boys at Stone, but there is little in the way of hop aroma because the pungent flavours produced by the Belgian yeast strain dominate everything resulting in a very bitter, funky beer that tastes a bit like bread along with other flavours I can't define. Curiously this beer tastes of the off flavour that has plagued my own beer over the last few months. This revelation has given me a great deal to think about indeed.

6 comments:

e.s. delia said...

One thing I find not so pleasing is the Belgian-style IPAs or American Tripels. (Leave it to us Yanks to hop the hell out of anything!) For the most part they taste off-kilter, with assertive hops and a strong dose of candy sugar that just don't seem to match. You just don't get the kind of balance you might find with a well-done Double IPA, where the heavier malt sugars serve to balance out the bitterness.

Boak said...

We've just written about this one. We thought it was very interesting...

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

If you are getting 'your' off flavour from this beer perhaps you have a bacterial issue with your beer rather than an oxidation one. A phenolic infection will make everything you brew taste strangely Belgian.

Thom said...

Kieran, that's exactly what I'm concerned about. I tightened everything up for my last brew in the hope that this is the case.

The funny thing is I have faintly tasted this flavour in a number of commercial beers and home brewed beers where the flavour should not be. This led me to believe that the flavour might be a process issue rather than contamination of some sort.

The off flavour is not phenolic - I would have spotted that one a mile off, it is more kind of funky and a lot like the beer under discussion here. The implication is I have a wild yeast problem, but many others do to if that's the case.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

I would be looking at the infection possibility. What do you ferment in? how do you sanitise? a good soaking in caustic soda for glass, plastic and stainless equipment is always good.

Thom said...

I use glass carboys for fermenting which I clean using a hot oxi cleaner and then sanitise with Starsan. Not much will survive that, but the fermenters are not the issue if I do indeed have a contamination problem. I have something of a cobbled together brewing set up which has other problems I need to address. It is far from ideal.