The fire was put to the mash tun at 0700. The backyard was quiet and still, without a breeze of any kind. The sun was already hot, making the heat of the propane cooker insanely oppressive for an early morning in May. Forty feet away in the pond, a mallard hen and her new babies swam quietly away, having noticed my intrusion into their breakfast swim. A short time later, as the temperature climbed steadily in the strike water, the dog walked near the side yard fence and a wild turkey flushed, not fifteen feet away from me. I watched as it flew high across the pond and lit in a tree a couple of hundred yards away. A peaceful and pastoral setting for a fine Memorial Day.
I love Michigan.
I decided to brew a special beer for this holiday. It's a Belgian Golden Ale. This style of beer began about a hundred years ago, when Belgian brewers were trying to compete with the newly successful Pilsners. They came up with a golden ale, fermented at ale temps and cooled for the secondary fermenation, then stored (lagered) for a month and a half for a smooth and highly drinkable beer that was light in color, like the pilsners, but big in taste and alcohol content. Perhaps the most famous commercial version of this style is the wonderful Duvel, brewed by Moortgat Brewery, though there are many Belgian and American versions to speak of.
The Belgians were doomed in their attempts to stem the tide of the popular Pilsners. As anyone knows today, the Pilsner lager is the most popular beer in the world, by far, and has been since the late nineteenth century. Beer afficionados, however, wouldn't trade a common pilsner-or even a fine Czech or German example-for any of the wonderful Belgian Golden Ales. These beers are a party in your mouth. The light, highly quaffable taste belies the 6% to 11% ABV, while a feast of subtle flavors delight the taste buds. I can't wait until I crack one of these babies in a couple of months!
Here's the grain bill:
21 Lbs. of Belgian Pilsner malt (Dingemans)
2.5 Lbs of Belgian Carapils (Dingemans)
1 Lb. of cane sugar
1/2 Lb. of light D.M.E. ('cause I had some left over from the starters)
2.5 Oz. Styrian Goldings (60 Min.)
2 Oz. Czech Saaz (20 Min.)
2 Oz. Czech Saaz (0 Min.)
2 Tbls. Irish Moss (finings)
Corn sugar to prime at bottling
Split ten gallons into two five gallon batches and ferment with two different Belgian yeasts: Wyeast 1388 Belgian Strong Ale and WLP570 Belgian Golden.
A barbeque is scheduled for 3:00 PM at the Beerme residence in honor of our veterans. I can't think of a finer beer to celebrate the occasion than this one. Makes me think of the poppies at Flanders field in Ypres, Belgium, celebrated in the poem by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McRae in 1915. Too bad it won't be available until after July Fourth. Well, I might cheat and try one around that time...just for evaluation purposes, you understand.