dsc01590Another gorgeous winter day in the Twin Cities. Temps in the mid 30’s with not a cloud in the sky. For me, that means brewing in the garage. Gotta take advantage of these kinds of days when I can, as they’re few and far between.

In preparation, I spent a couple hours yesterday pouring over recipe websites, flipping through homebrew books, and generally trying to figure out what in the heck I wanted to brew. I have a pretty decent variety of homebrew in stock at the moment, and wasn’t really feeling like making yet another stout or your run-of-the-mill IPA. I really kind of wanted to do something different, a beer that didn’t necessarily adhere to any particular style. Something that promised to be unique, memorable and of course very tasty.

I called up my buddy Sam Calagione at Dogfish Head, and asked him if he had any ideas for me. Well, actually, when I say I called up Sam, what I mean is that I opened up his book “Extreme Brewing”, flipped to the recipe section, and found a very interesting one for a Port Barrel-Aged Belgian Brown Ale. I’m a sucker for any kind of beer that’s barrel-aged, whether it’s in bourbon, port, or scotch casks (e.g. my J.W. Lees Harvest Ale collection). So this recipe really jumped out at me, offering a unique challenge that hopefully will result in an enjoyable beer. 

Here’s what I’m using for the fermentables and hops: 

1.5 lbs Carapils (steeped)
6.6 lbs LME (boil at 60 min)
1 lb dark Belgian candi sugar (boil at 60 min)
1.5 oz Kent Goldings (boil at 60 min)
0.5 oz Saaz (boil at 20 min)
8 oz molasses (boil at 10 min)

I’ll use Wyeast 1388 Belgian Strong Ale yeast strain for the primary fermentation, and after I transfer to secondary will give it a shot of Wyeast 5335 Lactobacillus yeast strain to provide a sour, almost acidic quality common in most lambics and guezes. Kind of a departure from your standard brown ale, but what else would you expect from Sam Calagione?

Now here’s the best part. While primary fermentation takes place, I’ll marinate a quarter pound of medium roast American oak chips in a red tawny port wine, and then pitch them into secondary to give the beer that distinctive barrel-aged characteristic. I can already smell the rich, oaky goodness.

Should be a nice beer. I know at the very least I’ll have fun making it.