It’s been a nice hot summer and we are introducing our Belgian beer style series. The series, which will roll out throughout the summer, began with Hall Pass, our Abbey Single, and now Nova Scuti, our Belgian Blonde. Still to come will be a Belgian Tripel and our Belgian Wit, Strunk and Witte.
Belgium is a relatively small country that has created a diverse selection of beers. Take for example the following Belgium beer styles that have come out of Belgium. There are Trappist Beers (Singles, Dubbels, Tripels), Abbey Beers (Blondes, Pales, Golden Strong Ales, Dark Strong Ales), Farmhouse Beers (Saisons, Grisettes) and Sour Beers (Lambics, Gueuzes, Flanders Reds, Oud Bruins). It’s a country where until recently brewers brewed to their region’s palates and, perhaps because of this regional focus, these varied styles have persisted.
For this post,we are focusing on our Belgian Abbey/Trappist series along with a quick plug for the Farmhouse/Wit beers we’ve done. Let’s sit down on the grass, crack a growler of Hall Pass, and get down to business.
So what are Trappist, Abbey and Farmhouse beers?
Abbey Style Ales
Trappist beers aren’t so much of a style as they are an AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée aka controlled designation of origin). Clear as mud, right? Well, you know how Champagne can only be called Champagne if it comes from that region in France? Same thing is true for Trappist beers, but Trappist beers must be brewed within the boundaries of a monastery. Up until recently, there were seven Trappist breweries: six are in Belgium and one is in the Netherlands. With the rising tide that is craft Belgium beer, we have seen four more open around the world. So what’s a brewery that’s not in a monastery to do when they make a Trappist-style ale? Call it an Abbey style ale.
Abbey style ales are not a single style but a category of Belgium beer that is brewed by commercial breweries but share properties of Trappist beers. Just to clarify, Trappist breweries can and do brew what were once considered Abbey-style beers like Blonde Ales and commercial breweries brew Trappist styles like tripels. Confused yet?
Our Belgian Summer series of beers all fall into the Abbey category, while our Saisons (Allumé and Ombre Noir) and our Wit (Strunk & Witte) fall into another category, the Farmhouse ale.
Generally when someone says “Farmhouse Ale,” what they probably mean is “Saison.” I feel like Saison is a style that people like to put in a corner. (Nobody puts Saison in the corner!). There’s really so much more to Saison than being straw colored and highly effervescent with spicy/citrus notes. Saisons can be straw colored, amber hued, or black as night. They can be citrusy and spicy, dark and spicy, or oddly fruity. It’s not so much a style as it’s a catch-all. Enough on the styles: let’s crack open that other growler of Nova Scuti and talk about what we are offering this summer.
What’s coming to the Lineage Pub?
Abbey Single – An Abbey single, aka Patersbier, is a table beer meant for monks to drink on daily basis. Most Trappist breweries make one that is a lower alcohol version of their flagship beers. For example, Chimay’s Abbey Single’ called Doree’ is a lower alcohol version of their Dubbel. Westmalles Abbey Single is a lower alcohol version of their tripel. Lineage Brewing’s Hall Pass follows Chimays route by using a Dubbel as a blueprint, but using the Ardennes yeast strain instead of the Chimay strain. It’s malty, slightly fruity and infinitely drinkable on a hot summer day.
Belgian Blonde – A Belgian blonde is golden colored, has light spicy mixed with light fruity aromas, and is lower in alcohol and sweeter than a tripel. Our Nova Scuti uses pilsner and Munich malts and a small amount sugar to dry out the beer. We deviated slightly from the norm by adding a bunch of Australian Galaxy hops at flame out. The hop addition didn’t add bitterness but it did add some wonderful juicy tropical fruit notes that work well with our Ardennes yeast.
Belgian Tripel – The Belgian tripel was first created and popularized by Westmalle. It’s straw in color, high in alcohol (close to 10%), yet easy to drink due to the sugar added to lighten the body. The last beer in our summer Belgian series will be a traditional tripel with the exception that our yeast is different than what Westmalle uses. The beer is almost entirely Pilsner malt with sugar added to lighten the body and if the stars align should come in a little over 10% ABV.
Belgian Witbier- Who doesn’t love a good wheat beer with some citrus and coriander added to it? Wit (or witte) was originally brewed in Hoegaarden and nearly disappeared until a postman named Pierre Celis brought it back from the grave. Belgian Witte is a hazy straw colored beer that has wonderful spicy yeast aromas/flavors mixed with citrus from either crushed coriander or citrus zest. Our version, Strunk & Witte, is relatively traditional, except that we use some acidulated malt to tart up the beer along with crushed coriander and the zest from oranges and lemons. Look for it sometime in mid-August.
Saison- Last year we did a black saison called Ombres Noir and a more traditional Saison called Allumé. Ombres Noir was dark like a stout but had a nice floral/mineral quality derived from the yeast. These yeast flavors and aromas were then paired with black cardamom to add an alluring smokey-spicy quality to the beer. Allumé, our more traditional Saison, was straw in color, effervescent with the same floral/mineral quality found in Ombres Noir.
If you want to try out a few, come in for a sampler, or get a nice tall beer. These are thoroughly enjoyable after a hard day’s work or on a hot Ohio day. You don’t have to be in Belgium to appreciate what the Belgians have done for beer.
“BJCP Style Guidelines.” 2016. Beer Judge Certification Program. http://www.bjcp.org/stylecenter.php.
Hieronymus, Stan. 2005. Brew like a monk: Trappist, Abbey and strong Belgian ales and how to brew them : culture and craftmanship in the Belgian tradition. Boulder, Colo: Brewers. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/474704435
“The History of Belgian Beer.” 2012. Global Beer. http://www.globalbeer.com/content/history-belgian-beer.
Markowski, Phil. 2004. Farmhouse ales culture and craftsmanship in the Belgian tradition. Boulder, Colo: Brewers Publications. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/689920626
Rajotte, Pierre. 1992. Belgian ale. Boulder, Colo: Brewers Publications. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/27187478