Here are two of my recent brews, two excellent summer styles, both of which turned out really well, and just as I had hoped. First a Belgian style Wit (white), and also another Belgian style, a Saison.
When I was developing both of these I took inspiration from two excellent books: Stan Hieronymous’ Brewing with Wheat for the Wit, and Phil Marowski’s Farmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition for the Saison.
First up, the Wit. Wits are white beers, the most common one around is Hoegaarden. They are white because they’re very pale, and cloudy. This is mostly due to the use of raw wheat, unlike German wheat beers, which tend to use malted wheat. I think the raw wheat makes Wits a little sharp, and less bready than their German cousins. somewhere around 40% wheat or even more is normal for this style, the rest is generally a pale type of malt. I used Bairds Lager malt. For the wheat I used simple rolled wheat flakes which are used in baking, and you can probably get them in a health food shop. I also added some oats, for a bit of body and head, it was recommended in the book. This style tends to have very little hop character, so I bittered to only about 14 ibu with Marynka, the Polish Saaz related hop.
36L ‘Infantile Wit’ OG 1.042 85% efficiency 4.3% abv
Grain: 3 KG Lager Malt, 1.5 KG Flaked Wheat, 1 KG Wheat Malt, 250G Porridge Oats
Hops Etc: 25G Marynka 60 mins, 7G Fresh Orange Zest 5 mins, 15 Chamomile Flowers 5 mins.
Yeast: White Labs ‘Belgian Wit’ (WLP400)
Other: Water treated with Acid Malt (in mash) (150G) to acidify, and 15G Calcium Chloride (in mash), 5G Gypsum (in water).
This beer has turned out very refreshing, dry, (it finished just below 1.010), though I would add a little more chamomile next time as it is barely perceptible, this may change after bottle conditioning for a few weeks.
My second beer is a Saison. The beer is supposed to be dry and refreshing, and not too strong, though nowadays some examples are reasonably strong. It was made on farms in Belgium and used to quench the thirst of the seasonal workers, which is the origin of the name. I modelled mine on Dupont’s saison, which is something of a classic in the style. The name is a nod to Brasserie à Vapeur’s Saison de Pipaix , another favourite. I used the Slovakian hop ‘Dana’, since it is a variant of Styrian Goldings, which are a classic for this style. I used a yeast that is supposedly originally from the Dupont brewery.
34L ‘Saison de Richaix’ OG 1.057 90% efficiency, 6.5% abv
Grains: 7KG Pilsner Malt
Hops: 20G Dana 60 mins, 25G Dana 30 mins, 40G Dana 5 mins
Yeast: White Labs ‘Belgian Saison I’ (WLP565)
Other notes: I mashed low, at 65c, so this beer would dry out. The mash was treated with 5g each calcium chloride and gypsum. I added 150g acid malt to the mash to adjust the ph. I fermented extremely high, at temperatures well in excess of 30c, in fact, at 33c for the first 24 hrs. FG reached 1.008
Unlike other yeasts, 565 thrives at these temperatures. It feels wrong, but you have to try it. The beer is neither hot nor estery as you might imagine, rather it is full of lemon and spice, complimented by the lemony/herb flavour that I have found Dana tends to provide. Tasty summer beers, now all we need is a sunny spell!