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Another Brunette? A Blonde? A Redhead?

Posted by homebrewdad on 2/08/2012 at 05:28:52 AM


While my homebrew pipeline is far from rolling along at full power, I do have a nice start on it.  My first batch - the Yorkshire brown ale - is bottled and sitting in my closet while undergoing the process of carbonating; in another two weeks or so, it shold be ready to drink.  My second batch - the imperial nut brown ale - is enjoying the cooler locale of my basement, and is two and a half weeks into primary fermentation.  This is a big beer that will take some time to mellow out, so at the four week mark, I'll rack it to a secondary fermenter and leave it for at least another month before bottling. 

Once I siphon the imperial out, I'll have an empty six and a half gallon carboy... that will never do.  If I hadn't broken one of my five gallon carboys, I'd have even more room to brew... but that is a moan for another day.  My brthday is coming up this weekend; I'll surely be asking for beer making supplies so that I can get my next batch going. 

I've spent a good deal of time wondering about what that next beer should be.  Since my own beer intake level is pretty low, my intention has always been to share my brews with neighbors and coworkers; some variety might be a helpful thing there (and I would like to experiment some with different styles of beer).  Brown ales are my favorite style, but I'll have two different varieties on hand already, and honestly, brown ales are not a great starting point for most non craft beer drinkers (I've been told more than one person that they just didn't care for dark beers, though they couldn't name a dark beer that they had ever tried).  With that being said, I'm not interested in attempting a pilsner to try to lure the Bud/Miller/Coors drinker.  While I'm sure that I could do something with more flavor than a BMC, the fact is that I started homebrewing because I want to drink beers that I enjoy.  It might be one thing to do some sort of light beer style batch specifically for a gift, but in my current situation, it just makes no sense.

I'll save you the bother of reading all of my pros and cons for trying different brews, and boil it all down to my three finalists - which are likely to be the next three beers that I brew (in some order or another).

First off is my brunette - a clone of Chimay Grande Reserve (aka Chimay Blue).  I fell in love with this Belgian beer last summer while on vacation at St. George Island, Florida; it took me several days to screw up the courage to spend $14 on a single (albeit very large) bottle of beer, but it was well worth it - this trappist ale is the absolute Holy Grail of beer, as far as I am concerned.  This ale has wonderful aroma, a creamy mouthfeel, and an amazing, smooth, complex flavor.  If I could brew up a clone that came even somewhat close to the original, I would be extremely proud.  However, this is another big beer (the alcohol by volume is somewhere around 9%), and would likely take months to fully mature.  If I were to brew this one now, I would be stuck with one drinkable beer and two that I could only stare longingly at.

Next up is my redhead - an Irish red ale.  Back when I knew nothing about beer, I discovered this style via Killians (which is not a true Irish Red), which led me to Smithwicks, which helped to introduce me to a greater variety of beers.  Irsh red ales are very drinkable and approachable, and would make a nice change from my browns.  Austin Homebrew Supply has an Irish red kit that ranks among their best reviewed beers, and there are a couple of recipes at that look very appealing.  Furthermore, an Irish red should be a pretty quick beer to get from "grain to glass", as they say - it would be ready to drink in a relatively short period of time.  If I pushed it, I might even have this one ready by St. Patrick's Day... not that I have ever actually celebrated St. Patty's aside from wearing green in order to avoid being pinched.

Finally, we have my blonde option.  Specifically, I'm thinking about a Leffe Blonde clone.  Leffe is a crisp, flavorful Belgian brew that I first discovered at Walt Disney World's Food and Wine Festival (Disney *and* beer - two of my biggest interests - at the same time?!?  Yes, please!).  I think that the light color and easy drinkability of Leffe would make this another great candidate for sharing with those who might not have had much exposure to good beer, and it would be very different from either of my brown ales.  Furthermore, there is a recipe for this at that gets rave reviews.  Finally, this brew shouldn't take terribly long to get to a drinkable stage.

After weighing the pros and cons of each choice above, I have decided to go with the Leffe Blonde clone.  The only catch is that the recipe I'm using is an all grain variety, which I lack the equipment for.  However, with the help of Beersmith, I have converted this to a partial mash.  This will be more complicated that the two extract brews I have done so far, but will give me more control over my final product, and should yield even better beer.  I'm having to do a little substitution of the hops (the ones called for in the recipe are currently unavailable at my preferred supplier), but I am still pretty excited about it.  If it turns out well, I may never brew another batch of extract beer again.

Tags for this post: brunette, blonde, redhead, beer, ale, chimay, leffe, irish, red, style, homebrew, brew, homebrewing

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I know it's probably a bit late for this, but I just stumbled over here from HBT... I'd say go for the Leffe Blonde clone! At least that way you can get the uninitiated to approach it with open arms, free of preconceived prejudices, and give it a try. From there they can learn the joys of some funky yeasts and get a sliver of the joy that the Chimay brought you. That'd be my choice!

posted by Chris on 2/16/2012 at 02:15:02 AM

Thanks for the input, Chris. I have decided to go withthe Leffe Blonde clone. It is indeed accessible for the non craft drinker, it is refreshing, it is a nice change of pace from my dark stuff.

I'm hoping to pick up ingredients and start it either this or next weekend.

posted by homebrewadad on 1/10/2015 at 10:11:18 PM