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Oh Montreal, how I love thee.
Delicious food, friendly people, hip fashion, beautiful architecture, and of course, GREAT BEER.
This was my 3rd time visiting Montreal, and every time seems to get better and better. I’ve become much more obsessed with beer since my last visit, so I did some digging around to find out where we should go to sample some of Montreal’s amazing selection of beer…
245 Sherbrooke O, Montréal, QC, H2X 1X7
We dropped into Benelux on our first night in town. We loved the beer and the outdoor patio so much, that we went back a second time the next night! It isn’t much to look at, decor wise, but it has a very friendly atmosphere, and the beers are impeccable. Every beer I tried, not just here, but also at the following 2 brewpubs, were incredibly clean. Very fresh and well cared for. I could tell that the draft lines are well kept and sanitized. I’m very sensitive to dirty draft lines and always feel like garbage the morning after, even if I only have 1 or 2 pints. Not so with Benelux, and I definitely had more than 1 or 2. My favourite was a Continue reading
It’s been scorching here in Toronto this summer, with temperatures reaching as high as 42°C/108°F in the shade one day! As a result, the Belgian Style Witbier I brewed a few weeks back is finding a very happy home in my pint glass. Don’t get me wrong, the heat is great, my garden is loving it and growing like crazy. Downside is, our central air conditioner is broken, and hot, uncomfortable nights don’t always make for restful sleeping. No A/C also means my Belgian Witbier was fermenting in the 73-75°F range, with it hitting 77°F one day!
Belgian yeast strains can usually handle, if not enjoy, higher fermentation temperatures. Stan Hieronymus describes many fermentation schedules for wheat beers in his book, “Brewing with Wheat” being in the 73°F range, so I was hopeful that things would still work out.
Man, did they really work out.
The White Labs – Belgian Wit (#WLP-400) yeast I used in this beer is rocking the classic fragrance that is such a signature in Belgian witbiers. Unlike some German wheat beers that can be heavy on the banana or clove, it’s very balanced. Primary fermentation was quite slow, taking a full 2 weeks for the krausen to finally drop. I did some research on White Labs’ site after noticing that it was taking its time, and many others noted the same thing. The consensus was to just sit tight and be patient, as it would be worth the wait. Worth the wait it was. Continue reading
Posted in Books, Brew Reviews, Brewing, How To, Recipes
Tagged Adjunct mash, ale, all grain, beer, Blegian Beer, decoction, fermenting, homebrew, recipes, step mash, White Labs, Witbier
As with all experiments, they don’t always work out the way you hoped they would.
Have no fear though, when things go wrong, it provides you with another opportunity to get it right.
In my first attempt of cloning a Guinness Dry Irish Stout, I started off by using Jamil Zainisheff’s Dry Irish Stout recipe from Brewing Classic Styles as a base. That beer turned out fantastic. I made no water adjustments to it, and the final result was quite delicious. For the second round I wanted to try and match the highly alkaline water of Dublin, as well as add some acidulated malt to try and emulate the Guinness ‘twang’.
Water chemistry in brewing is a very complex subject, one that I certainly haven’t mastered. Most home brewers would say don’t even bother messing with it, but I want to find out how to make the best beer possible. I don’t want to make ‘good’ beer, I want to make ‘great’ beer, so I will mess with everything I can until I find out how to, even if that means having some casualties along the way.
The mineral concentrations as listed in Bru’n Water for Dublin are: Continue reading
Posted in Brew Reviews, Brewing, Recipes
Tagged ale, all grain, beer, brewing water, Guinness, how to, recipes, residual alkalinity, step mash, stout, water adjustment
With the onset of summer and the occasional 40°C weather up here in Toronto, it’s about time I get a nice cold keg filled with a summertime favourite: a Belgian Witbier. There’s nothing like the refreshing taste of that orange infused bubbly goodness on a hot summer day.
Witbiers normally contain a large amount of unmalted wheat, either raw or flaked. When using such a large amount, it’s a good idea to give your mash a short protein rest around 122F to help loosen things up. I’ve just finished reading Randy Mosher’s book “Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass” in which he talks about “white beer” as being one of his favourite styles. He also talks about how it can be a difficult beer to brew well and offers some insight from his trials and errors. He suggests an American style “adjunct mash” (or a ‘double mash’ as it’s called in Dave Miller’s Homebrewing Guide) as the best way to get that real creamy, lubricious body that is a famous characteristic of good witbiers. After researching some historical brewing texts, he claims that this was similar to how some brewers would have made these greatly varied beers in the past in order to deal with the large amount of raw wheat in the grist.
The recipe I chose uses the following grains: Continue reading
Posted in Books, Brewing, How To, Recipes
Tagged ale, beer, Belgian Beer, Belgium, fermenting, homebrew, how to, pilsner, recipes, Witbier
If you’re anything like me, you’re always seeking out how to brew a better tasting beer. There seems to be endless possibilities and learning opportunities that can be had when brewing. Thankfully home brewers and craft brewers, by nature, like to experiment. Perpetually fiddling with recipes, equipment and the overall process is what we do.
A fellow home brewer tipped me off to a recipe he thought was amazing called “Lake Walk Pale Ale”. It showcases the famous Amarillo/Simcoe hop combination that I’ve read so much about. Unfortunately, up until recently, Simcoe hops have been very scarce around these parts. I’ve since scored a pound of them, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try it. An interesting twist to the recipe is the use of ‘home-toasted’ malt. I had read about roasting your own grains in “Radical Brewing” and “Brewing Better Beer“, but hadn’t really thought much about until now. Since we are so incredibly fortunate to have access to a myriad of different malts from all over the globe, some would say, why bother roasting your own?
I say, why not? It’s something else to do that involves brewing!
You can achieve any number of roasts at home. Try roasting them dry, or try roasting them wet to get a caramel/crystal type malt. You can also play around with the temperature and the length to get flavours that you want. For example, Randy Mosher’s “Radical Brewing” outlines the following flavours you will get at various temperatures: Continue reading
Posted in Books, Brewing, How To, Recipes
Tagged ale, all grain, American Pale Ale, beer, DIY, grain, homebrew, how to, malt, Pale Ale Recipe