So many domestic "Belgian" ales are too phenolic

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944play

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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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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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944play

944play

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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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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.
 

Tonedef131

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I agree with Denny, I don't think it is so much the yeast as the yeast handling.
 

mmb

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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. :D

Maybe let one sit for 6 - 12 months and see if the phenolics fade to acceptable levels.
 
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944play

944play

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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.
 

beerthirty

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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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944play

944play

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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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Thanks a lot... now I need to come up with a nacho beer recipe. :mad:
6lbs of PLAIN tortilla chips
6lbs of Pils malt
1lbs of sugar

2 oz of very stale tett hops for 60 min

Safbrew 33 yeast

Not sure how to add the cheese flavor without adding yeast killing preservatives. I guess you could dry hop some blue cheese?
 

Pharmguy

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You have to add equal parts salsa that is very stale, you will get it.
 

carnevoodoo

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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.
It is funny how different your palate is than mine. The Cali-Belgique is a pretty brash beer, but that's Stone for you. As far as the RR stuff, I think that it is very drinkable, and more to the point quite good. Would I say Damnation = Westmalle? Not at all. But the beers like Rejection, Benediction, and Rejection are all good beers. We all taste differently, and perhaps the blend of American hops and the phenolics don't sit well with you, but I assure you that more people enjoy these beers than not.
 
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Damnation is a Belgian Strong
Mortification is a Quad
Benediction is a Dubbel

Real Ale Devil's Backbone is a Tripel
Houblon Chouffe is a Belgian IPA or the Belgian Specialty Category.
Westmalle Tripel is a Tripel

I can only assume that you like tripels.

How about comparing an apple to an apple?
 

carnevoodoo

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Damnation is a Belgian Strong
Mortification is a Quad
Benediction is a Dubbel

Real Ale Devil's Backbone is a Tripel
Houblon Chouffe is a Belgian IPA or the Belgian Specialty Category.
Westmalle Tripel is a Tripel

I can only assume that you like tripels.

How about comparing an apple to an apple?
that's funny, because Tripels are the last of the Belgians I reach for. I think Dubbels are my favorite, if I were to narrow it down to a style, which almost seems silly now that I am typing it.
 
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944play

944play

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I do like tripels.

Let's take Damnation vs. Duvel. Damnation is sweeter and has that dirty funk I don't like. Duvel is fruitier, crisper, drier.

There's just something about my palate that just hates whatever this particular phenol is. It's definitely not ALL phenols that I dislike, because clovey weissbiers are some of my absolute favorites. I also dislike Goldings -- way too earthy! I appreciate them in moderation; 3rd St. Aleworks here makes a killer bitter with a restrained but distinct hit of Goldings, but IMHO they ruined New Belgium Mighty Arrow.

I'm about to toss my keg of SMaSH, but I'm not sure if it's because of the T-58 or the EKG. It's definitely not the Munich, yum!
 
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944play

944play

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If I pour it out, it's not good beer. I'm entitled to hold my opinion in unnaturally high esteem on the intarwebs.:D There were people next to me at the pub the other night who claimed to like the Racerveeta 5.
 

carnevoodoo

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Well, being wrong sucks sometimes, but its ok. Those are good beers.

Also, don't blame Racer 5 right off the bat. Make sure you're drinking in a bar that knows how to clean its lines properly. I am more and more suspect of bad lines in bars as I really get to understand how everything should taste. I would say I have a pretty refined palate, and that is the one thing that gets me the most often.
 

TurboBrew

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+ 1 on the dirty beer lines. Go to a bar full of BMC drinkers and order a maredsous on tap. Fizzy cardboard.
 
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