Friday, December 01, 2006

Belgian Amber

In May this year I brewed a Belgian Amber (aka. #33) at 6.6% abv. I originally intended it to be a Dubbel, but it ended up a bit too light in colour, hence the Amber designation. I used the much hyped liquid dark candy sugar that you now can get in homebrew shops, particularly in the U.S., but also here in Europe. The hype started because Stan Hieronymus wrote about it in his book Brew Like a Monk and later in a blog posting. Up until then people had thought that the Belgian brewers had used [expensive] crystallized candy sugar. According to his book the real ingredient is liquid, not crystallized, dark candy sugar.

The Belgian Amber was brewed with the WLP500 yeast from White Labs. This is supposedly the Chimay strain. I've brewed with it once before and it is indeed very characteristic with a lot of banana character, even when brewed at temperatures around 19-20 degrees C. After six months the banana aromas are now gone. It was a bit disappointing at first, but the beer has finally mellowed out and become a really nice Belgian style ale. The beer itself is slightly sweet and nicely balanced by hops.

In the near future I'm planning on making a stronger and darker Belgian ale, something resembling Westvleteren Abt 12 or St. Bernardus Abt 12. More about this in a little while.

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