The weather the past couple of weeks has bordered on perfect for Iowa in mid-August. I am talking about mid-70s during the day, abundant sunshine, and temps that drop into the 50s at night. Perfect for sitting around a patio fire and enjoying a few homemade beers.
Lefse Blonde Ale
The Lefse Blonde recipe kit from Northern Brewer really intrigued me because it was described as “this Belgian-style blonde ale features the same generous malt profile and spicy yeast character of stronger Dubbels and Tripels, but its more modest gravity means you can enjoy a couple and remain upright and hard-working past Compline.”
For the past month or so, I have found myself imbibing stronger and stronger beers which usually means my nights end earlier and my mornings start later. Or at least start a little slower. Nothing starts later when you have two children below the age of six in the house.
The first pour was promising:
According to my iBrewmaster calculations this beer have it coming in at ~5.2% ABV and a modest ~26 IBU. The alcohol in the estimate seems a little high after having had a few pints, however I know that some beers drink lighter than the stated alcohol level would have you believe. Based on mouth feel alone I would have pegged it at around 4% ABV. Oh well.
The real winning aspect of this particular beer in the heat of Iowa in August is that it is effervescent. It’s not just about the bubbles, but having long lasting bubbles in the brew helps.
The recommended yeast was Wyeast 1762 Belgian Abbey II, which according to its description is known for its dry finish. True to the description the Lefse Blonde really does finish dry and clean. Not quite lager-like, but much cleaner than American style pale or amber ales.
This is a real winner of a recipe.
Phat Tyre Amber Ale
The Phat Tyre Amber Ale kit, also from Northern Brewer, intrigued me for a different reason. By the name you can guess that it is a take on New Belgium’s classic Fat Tire Amber Ale. I remember a time when Fat Tire was not distributed widely in the Midwest and people treated it like some kind of golden liquid from a faraway land. My father may have talked about a time when people bootlegged Coors from Colorado, but for my generation we bootlegged Fat Tire Amber Ale from Fort Collins.
It looked right after an initial pour:
Something however is just not right with this beer. Even though it used the same yeast as the Lefse Blonde—Wyeast 1762 Belgian Abbey II—the flavor was very different. I am not talking about the malt profile or the hops, but the flavors that the yeast is primarily responsible like those arising from esters. Thankfully, the beer does not have that banana smell that I cannot stand. Nothing will ruin my mood more than having a batch turn out to have banana aromas or flavors. It does not go down the drain, but it quickly becomes the beer that I serve my guests.
Part of the problem may be that the room in which the beer was fermented probably had temps a little higher than normal. Another issue may be that Belgian-style beers or ones that use Belgian-style yeasts are prone to developing different flavor profiles over time. I may just need to allow the beer some extra time in the bottles for the flavors to really mellow or even out. At least that is my hope.
Right now I have a batch Le Petite Orange in the carboy. It is about halfway through its primary fermentation, so I am quite a few weeks away from any tasting.