The first of the beers that we just ordered is a Belgian amber ale; a continuation of the series we began with the Belgian pale. We expect to continue with a Belgian brown ale and a Belgian stout. It is entirely a tribute to Ommegang's Rare Vos, which is the most highly esteemed of all beers in our mod. However, we're not going to try anything overly complex, such as the various spices that may or may not be in the real Rare Vos. Just malts, hops, and yeast.
The second is a spur-of-the-moment decision that I cobbled together from two recipes I'd been working on: a raspberry red ale, and an American stout. Raspberry stouts being known to work well, I mentioned it as a possibility when we were ordering, and it produced great anxiety amongst the hearers that they were not drinking such a beer at that moment. It has a fairly complex malt bill, with pale chocolate, dark chocolate, roasted barley, and Crystal 75 all making an appearance. I dropped the American hops from my stout recipe and included 35 IBUs of Kent Goldings, which is fairly low for the gravity, which I estimate at 1.074, which yields an estimated 7.3% ABV. The raspberry flavor comes from over three pounds of raspberry puree (a deseeded can of 100% fruit), whose addition made this beer the most expensive we've decided to brew.
The third beer is an even more improvised recipe than the second. At the last minute, we decided to a brew a Belgian Golden Strong Ale (think Duvel). I'd never even considered such a recipe before, but I did a little research and threw one together. 80% base malt and 20% sucrose, fermented with a White Labs yeast that is said to be Duvel's. Single hopped with Saaz. (I later learned that Duvel also uses Styrian Goldings, but ah, well, we weren't really brewing a Duvel clone anyway.) If we get this one right it will be delicious and widely appealing (though we may not wish to share).
Here are the other recipes I'm developing:
1. The Mon Oncle bier de garde, an amber or brown French-style ale. This has gone through a number of incarnations, but the pun was so satisfying I had to keep working at it. The main idea is to make a very malty, yet very dry beer. My formulation of this recipe owes much to Jamil Zainasheff and Michael Tonsmeire. I'm using a mix of Munich and Extra Pale LME, aiming for about 30% Munich. In addition I add a couple of ounces of Carafa (I) for a hint of roasted complexity, and 3/4 of a pound of Dark 2 Candi Syrup, for increased attenuation and bit of a dark Belgian character. Jamil recommends a Euro Ale yeast, while Tonsmeire used a Kolsch. Upon reviewing the two, I found that the Kolsch was consistently considered more attenuative, so I chose it. I call for all Northern Brewer hops (the only hop used in Anchor Steam), for its distinctive earthy character, at about 30 IBUs, which is at the upper end of the style guidelines.
2. I've recently decided that I definitely want to start doing partial mashes, which is the practice of doing a small mash as well as using extract. This has opened up several possibilities for beers I would not have been able to brew to my satisfaction before. The first is a Honey Ale, which includes both honey and honey malt. The honey malt should be mashed, so I'll perform a partial mash with 1/4 lb of honey malt as well as 3 pounds of Maris Otter, a flavorful English base malt. The twist to the beer is that I'm late-hopping it with 2 ounces of Centennial, for only 23 IBUs, but a lot of hop flavor.
3. I've always wanted to brew an English bitter, but I wouldn't be satisfied with an all extract bitter, because I want a flavorful base malt like Maris Otter. The ordinary bitter I'm working on should be very low in alcohol (OG: 1.039), but very flavorful with a heavy dose of English hops.
4. I would like to try making a sour beer, but don't want to deal with the long times and possibility of contamination, so I decided that a sour mash might be a good idea. I plan to do a sour mash on 2 lbs of 2 row and 2 lbs of wheat malt, and then add an additional 2 lbs of extract in the boil. The resulting beer will (hopefully) be a Berliner Weisse, a very low alcohol (2 - 3%) sour wheat beer.