Back in January I brewed another batch of Chimay-clone Belgian with the help of Tim. As the brewing progressed, however, it turned out I was brewing something completely different.
The first clue was while Tim was reading the ingredients out loud. When he said “one ounce black patent malt” my head jerked up as I distinctly remembered carefully measuring out one pound of the stuff while I chatted with Matt at Vermont Homebrew Supply. Normally an ounce of the stuff helps give the Belgian it’s distinctive golden color, but a whole pound is enough to make it stout-black, and give it an astringent bite. Sure enough, the liquid that came out of the grains was completely opaque, and looked very much like a stout.
The second clue was when I was starting the boil, and getting the hops together so it could be added add the right times. I remembered picking Hallertau and Goldings out of VHS’s cooler, but instead of those hops I found I had a bunch of Czech Saaz. This truly was becoming a Franken-ale. After doing a little research it turns out the Saaz isn’t too far off from the other hops, and is even used in some Belgian ales.
So now it’s 2-1/2 months later, and it’s time to start thinking about bottling my little Franken-brew. Since the keg was free I decided to use it, and a half hour later it had enough CO2 in it to taste-test. It poured out dark, like a stout. I closed my eyes to taste it, fearing the worst. It was surprisingly drinkable, the lightness and mouth feel of a Belgian, but dark as night. I’m thinking that it’s enough of a Belgian to improve with age, and even an hour later my second glass has lost most of the back of the tongue bite that was in the first tentative sips.
The label, of course, pretty much made itself: