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Old 03-30-2009, 06:59 AM   #1
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Default So many domestic "Belgian" ales are too phenolic

Having recently relocated to within a mile of Russian River BC, I'm becoming familiar with their house flavors. The not-sour Belgian styles, like Damnation, Mortification, and Benediction all have an inescapable and unpleasant phenol profile. I just opened a bomber of Stone Cali-Belgique IPA, and it has the very same profile. It's just not good beer.

In contrast, Real Ale Devil's Backbone (from Texas), Houblon Chouffe, and Westmalle Tripel (both from Belgium) are like intoxicating candy!

I know Westmalle and Achouffe use the "same" yeast (that we know as WLP530). What is the crap that Stone and RRBC insult me with?

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Old 03-30-2009, 07:11 AM   #2
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Probably vastly different brewing technique. Also, the strains available from white labs and wyeast were cultivated from Belgium many moons ago.

Since the Belgians tend to top crop the same yeast for years on end they will be mutating over time while the local stuff will not. (well differently and more controlled due to cultivation in a lab).

my 2 cents on the matter

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Old 03-30-2009, 07:27 AM   #3
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Hrm, well, I used WLP530 once and it DEFINITELY had that Westmalle candy-concord-grape thing.

I've also sampled Fossil Fuels XP, brewed with the much-hyped 45,000,000 year-old yeast -- I found it even MORE phenolic and just as unpalatable as the aforementioned icky beers. Gah, plastic and dirt when I want hops and malt (ok, the cool yeast-derived flavors can come too).

This is definitely a yeast thing, I just want to know what yeast it is I dislike so much.

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Old 03-30-2009, 07:57 AM   #4
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OK, besides the actual strain there are:

Vessel size.
Vessel proportions.
open or closed fermentation.
pitching rate.
fermentation temps.
As well as recipe.

These all make a difference in commercial beer production.

The first three do not really apply to HB'ing as the pressure difference's are not too high. But when making hundreds of gallons at a time then they do. I'd elaborate more but I'm tired.

BTW if you like Belgian beers then "brew like a monk" is a good read.

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Old 03-30-2009, 01:11 PM   #5
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I agree with Denny, I don't think it is so much the yeast as the yeast handling.

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Old 03-30-2009, 01:18 PM   #6
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Makes me wonder if you are getting the Cali beers too "fresh." It's gotta take some time for those Belgian labels to make it over the pond and we all know what a back woods hinterland Texas is.

Maybe let one sit for 6 - 12 months and see if the phenolics fade to acceptable levels.

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Old 03-30-2009, 09:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmb View Post
Makes me wonder if you are getting the Cali beers too "fresh."
It may be, though the Devil's Backbone was on draft.

Are phenols known to fade with age?

The point of the thread was to express my annoyance of GOOD breweries putting out lousy beer with this weird flavor that they are seemingly trying to pass off as authentic or desirable. It's perfectly forgivable in the Fossil Fuel.

It has to be a yeast strain thing, because the Fossil Fuel is brewed with the same wort in the same brewery alongside their flawless, if forgettable, pale ale.
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Old 03-30-2009, 09:44 PM   #8
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Its an economic thing. Breweries pay tax up front here in the US. Now say you own a brewery and produce a bad batch. Do you throw it out(you have already paid the tax to produce it and bought the ingredients), or do you sell it and hope more suckers than EACs buy it.

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Old 03-30-2009, 10:00 PM   #9
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Hm, good point.

Last night I had a draft pint of Bear Republic Racer 5 that stank and tasted of stale, cheesy hops. Wonder if there are people out there who like Dorito beer?

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Old 03-30-2009, 10:03 PM   #10
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Thanks a lot... now I need to come up with a nacho beer recipe.

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