Thursday, May 16, 2013

Belgian Bonanza! The JAB May 2013 Meeting Recap

Starting back several months ago our illustrious club secretary, Tim Roets, contacted several companies about supplying us with ingredients for a Club Belgian Brew-Off.  Wyeast, Whitelabs and all jumped on board and provided multiple yeasts, candi sugars and syrups for this event.  For the last few months we have been encouraging Jack Of All Brews members to brew us up some Belgian style beers and I'm impressed with how many people decided to take up the challenge!  We had 17 different homebrewed beers to try (a few people did more than one!) 

I took a trip to Belgium last Fall and had the time of my life.  Since coming back I have a new appreciation for the myriad styles of Belgian ales, with many of them not fitting into any particular category.  What better way to celebrate that unique lack of style with an open category Belgian Brew Off?  For this event I brewed up a Belgian Dark Strong ale using a D90 and D180 candi syrup in the batch.  I also brewed up a Wit as part of my Hefe-Wit experiment.   I didn't even break into my homebrewed sour collection! 

I had won a 6 foot sub from Subway from a benefit and thought this would be a great time to cash it in.  When Sj brought in the 3 foot cardboard carrier I was shocked by how big the sub was...and then she brought in the second half!  I figured that we would be eating leftover subs for days.  That entire thing was quickly devoured by the hungry piranha feeding frenzy that is Brew Club!  Not to mention bags of chips and jars of spicy pickles. 

Ever notice how Steven in the foreground of every JAB group picture?

For our tasting we started with the lighter and lower alcohol beers.  My Wit was first, mainly because it was on tap and easy to serve.  Dave brought his fabled 3.2% ABV Tafelbier, and a tart cherry version as well.  We moved to Saisons with the high point of Wayne's really tasty Petite Saison.  We had 4 Dubbels, a mystery Belgian, a golden strong, a grand cru, and two dark strongs.  I was surprised we didn't have any tripels.  Overall we had a huge amount of beers to try and most were very good.  JAB members are becoming darn good brewers in my humble opinion!  The overall clear winner of the Golden Mash Paddle was Dave for his cherry Tafelbier.

Dave the proud winner!

We finished up with tasting Dave's sour barrel aged version of the Surly wort from the AHA rally several years back.  Well worth the wait!  We also ended up trying some good commercial Belgian style beers like Ommegang's Gnommegang, Iron Throne, and Art of Darkness.  Also tasted were: Boom Island Hoodoo Dubbel, Pour Decisions Salinity (not Belgian but pretty interesting,) Lost Abbey Lost & Found and Inferno, and the Kasteel Donker.  Yes Donker.  I am now going to use that as a dirty word for all eternity.

Dead Belgians?

We had a great meeting with nearly 30 members in attendance and a huge range of homebrewed and commercial beers to try.  I have to say that some of our homebrews were better than some of the commercial.  Thanks to Tim for getting this rolling, though I feel bad that he wasn't there to enjoy the spoils of his labor!  Also our new JAB work shirts arrived just in time for the meeting and they look really sharp.  Thanks to Tim, Mike and Steven for making that happen.

We are nearly ready for our next JAB barrel beer, and we need volunteers to help brew up some beer for it!  We aim to do a lambic and details will be on our JAB facebook group if you want to take part.

Also next month we will be assigning hops for our JAB yeast experiment!  More details to follow....

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