Beer styles Belgium homebrewing

Brewing Without Reference to Styles

We’ve just brewed a… something.

For once, we didn’t set out to make a tripel, an IPA or a stout — we just looked at the ingredients we had, thought about the beer we wanted to drink, and off we went.

It uses a Belgian saison yeast (because that’s the only one we had in) and borrows some aspects of our tripel recipe (because we liked how it turned out) but it doesn’t fit the parameters for an ‘average’ tripel as set out in Stan Hieronymus’s Brew Like a Monk, or those for a saison or ‘super saison’ given in Farmhouse Ales by Phil Markowski. It uses English pale malt (all we had), Tettnang hops (because… why not?) and a bit of white sugar.

We’re not claiming to have done anything especially innovative (although it does have some unusual secret spices) — all we’ve done is tinker with the variables a bit. It’s going to turn out to be a Belgian-inspired blonde beer of some description, and that won’t set the world alight.

But, still, it felt liberating. We’re going to do this more often.

Lots of commercial breweries defy or even define standard styles: Orval, for example, isn’t anything but Orval, love it or loathe it, and sits awkwardly among the other Trappist beers which have fallen into line with each other.

Many newer breweries, on the other hand, seem to us to trot out one of each from the recipe section in Homebrewing for Dummies and, for a bit of variety, take two standard styles and cross-breed them. The beer might great, but will this approach produce classics? Will it create genuinely new, individualistic, original beers?

5 replies on “Brewing Without Reference to Styles”

Ha. Yes, a category in which sit (a) Orval and (b) a bunch of beers that are nothing like Orval or each other…

How can you say noone in Belgium brews saisons like yours? 😉

A week or 2 ago i was at beer festival where i could taste true Belgian Stout (Hercules from Brasserie Ellezelloise). But there’s no such style like “Belgian Stout”, there is Irish or American, there is Sweet and this one made with oats. Should it be banned from production? C’mon, we’re all consenting adults, one does not dare to brew beer outside official style classification. 😀

Czesc Zgoda – don’t worry, we wouldn’t dare to accuse Belgian breweries of following styles… As the Orval example shows, many Belgian classics don’t fit into neat style guides. Hercule Stout is one of my all-time faves (tho a bit temperamental…)

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