Extra Dark Blending Beers

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 6.59.33 PMOne of the great things about homebrewing is the ability to have a variety of beers on tap at once. If you enjoy having more types of beer at your disposal, one option is to make beers that are meant to be blended. In the best cases, you can have two beers that taste great on their own, and additionally make a tasty blend.

Another alternative is to brew a beer you like, then brew another beer that darkens it. There are a variety of beers that are basically darkened versions of an existing beer style. For example, schwarzbier is basically a darkened Pilsner, dunkelweizen is a darkened hefeweizen, and black IPA is a darkened IPA. If you can brew a very dark beer, you can use it to blend into lighter beers to make the darker variation. [Read more…]

Blending Beers

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A gueuze is the only major beer style that must be produced by blending, but there are many other blends you could try.

Very few homebrewers produce blended beers. Unlike winemakers, we are used to formulating the recipe, brewing the batch, and drinking the beer as is. However, there are several opportunities for brewers to make a blend from two beers and have all three beers — the two original beers and the blended beer — fit within established style guidelines. And of course, if you’re willing to throw out the style guidelines, there’s no limit to the types of beers you can create. Here are some of the more conservative blends a homebrewer could try. He or she could brew two 5.0-gallon (19-L) batches and end up with 3.3 gallons (12.5 L) of three different beers.

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Blending A Gueuze

IMG_3111When it comes time to blend their gueuze, traditional lambic producers have a brewery full of barrels to select from. They can sample from their barrels, select those to contribute to their gueuze, dedicate others to fruit beers, and tag others for continued aging (or the drain). You, in contrast, will have three buckets (if you follow the plan in the accompanying article). Still, if your three beers turned out well, you can still blend of very fine gueuze at home.

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Go For The Gueuze

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A chart of the plan to brew sour beers each year and blend a gueuze in the fourth year. An extra bucket of lambic each year will allow you to make a kriek or framboise. (Click on the chart to enlarge it.)

Traditional lambic makers brew during the cooler months of the year, and take the hot summer off. Spring is a great time for homebrewers to begin a sour beer. The main fermentation can complete at normal ale temperatures, and then the beer can sour over the summer. During this time, the temperature of the fermenter can rise (within reason). The added heat will help the souring bacteria do their work more quickly.

One type of traditional lambic is gueuze — a blend of young and old lambics. “Young,” in this case, means one year old and “old” means either 2 or 3 years old. Today I’ll lay out a plan for a homebrewer to brew lambic-style ales for three years, then blend a gueuze from 1, 2 and 3 year old lambic in the fourth year. If you’re wondering who would ever do such a thing, I know one homebrewer who did it — me. (And, my resulting gueuze won Best of Show at the Austin ZEALOTS Inquisition that year.)

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