I've been wanting to do a Bière de Garde (BdG from now on) for a while and now that the keezer is full of German bier for Oktoberfest it seemed like a good time. This beer will hang out in the fermenter for a month before keg lagering for at least another month which puts the enjoy after date at around 11/8.
Full recipe is on BrewersFriend but here's the TL;DR:
- Brewday: 2018-9-8
- Fermentables: Pilsner, Munich, Special B, Brown Sugar, Table Sugar
- Hops: Magnum, Saphir
- Yeast: SafAle K-97 (clean German ale yeast)
- OG: 1.073; FG: 1.009; ABV 8.4%
- Kegged: 2018-10-8
Grains: Pils, Munich, and Special B
Milled. I know I write this on every brew log, but the crush could be finer.
Bag out. I got lousy efficiency (again!) I think for 2 reasons. 1- the crush looked a bit more coarse than before, and 2- I used too much water for the mash and ended up with a bunch in the sparge kettle (no sparge). Had that couple of liters of sugar been in the brew kettle instead I might have been closer to my expected 67% instead of 58.
Floor manager steve and Kevin Fussybutt
I didn't have any Saaz which would have been more standard so I used the last of a bag of Saphir I had in the hop freezer.
Brown sugar added at the end of the boil. I also added 500g of regular sugar later because my efficiency sucked and it's a French/Belgian beer so I can get away with it. After 2 solid months of making German beers it's nice to get crazy with the rules here and there. Total sugar additions were < 10% of the total fermentables.
Chilling and ready for the fermenter. This is going on an Altbier yeast cake of K-97.
And away we go...
2018-9-9 (+1) a few hours later....
2018-9-9 (+1) - Well that was a mess. Remember kids: when using K-97 always use a blowoff! I'll rack the beer into a smaller fermenter for storage in a couple of weeks and give this one a good cleaning. For now it's happy and burping away in the sanitizer jug.
2018-9-15 (+7): time to transfer to a secondary for a couple of reasons: need to free up the fermenter for another batch, and it needs a thorough cleaning after the yeast explosion earlier.
2018-9-15 (+7) - took a FG reading with some extra which came out to 1.010 putting the BdG at 8.3% ABV; it might drop another point or two in the coming weeks.
2018-9-15 (+7) - and away we go... for a couple more weeks
2018-10-8 (+30) - one month from brew day - into the keg for cold storage for another month+.
2018-10-8 (+30) - uncarbonated sample. Pretty hot and boozy but the dry malt character is there. Needs time to smooth out. I've made Belgian Golden Strongs in the past and they always start off really boozy then clean up over time. Since this needs a lot of time in storage, I'm in no rush to carbonate so put it on 12psi serving pressure which will slowly bring up the carbonation level over the next 2 weeks.
2018-10-19 (+41) - mostly carbonated sample. Booziness already fading. Lots of caramel and molasses yet still dry. Has a bit to go but shaping up nicely.
2018-10-31 (+53): Finally fully carbonated. touch of booze, but getting there.
2018-11-18 (+71): And... there. No more booziness. Clean finish. Sweet caramel in the nose and finish. Definitely a sipper. Maybe a dessert beer. Cleaned up nice.
Wait. What's all this then? Are those... medium charred American oak spirals soaking in Wild Turkey 101??? To be continued...
2018-12-2 (+86): Oaked Bourbon testing (a couple of weeks after soaking in the image above). How much is too much? When does the oaky bourbon character show up before overpowering?
2019-2-3 (+149): Nearing the end of the keg so this might be the last shot. Probably the most perfectly clear beer I've ever made. Still has a bit more molasses character than I would like, but it's ok. Next time I'll simplify the recipe down to just pils malt, special b, and sugar. And probably use a different yeast.
2019-2-3 (+149): For comparison, and before the keg kicks for good, I cracked open this example from De Steeg here in Denver. BdG is not an easy style to come by and several of the examples I've tried don't seem to fit with the BJCP description of "malty yet dry, with clean flavors and a smooth character" and will often have esters or phenols from an overly assertive Belgian yeast. Not so with De Steeg's offering which tastes like a stronger Belgian Pale and has the clean malty character I expected.