L-R: Nathan Smith, Rodger Davis, and George Kumparak.
I was able to make it briefly down to Triple Rock on Wednesday to see Nathan Smith brew his Pro-Am beer for GABF. My timing was good as he just finished pitching yeast and had time for a beer and a chat along with brewer George Kumparak and Head brewer Rodger Davis.
As Wednesday was my birthday and I had the attention of the brewmaster, I thought I would let him, ahem, know that. Rodger didn’t dissappoint…although he may have pulled out his backroom special brews anyway. I had no idea that Rodger had a barrel program going on in the back room of Triple Rock but oh boy. Got to try his “Kaiser Soze” which is a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout (sorry, didn’t get specifics….but it was great). We then tried an amazing Rodenbach-ish style sour. It was blended from two different wine barrel aged beers (one of the barrels was Grenache). Thank you Rodger.…and I digress….
Below, is some information about Nate’s pro-am beer. Hopefully it won’t jinx his chances for a medal this year. It will be served at Triple Rock probably in about 2 plus weeks-ish. Be on the lookout for “five and dime Tripel” soon.
Also click on the pics for a larger view of the photos.
“The beer is a Tripel based around one of my favorite modern interpretations of the classic Belgian Tripel, Gregory Verhelst’s Tripel from La Rulles brewery in Rulles, Belgium (http://www.larulles.be/). The idea is a spicy, dry, complex Tripel at about 8.3%ABV with some interesting hop complexity driven by American hops. The homebrew recipe is as follows:
It was in many ways my favorite beer that I’d homebrewed over the last year and I’m happy Rodger and George were down to brew it at Triple Rock. It did moderately well in competition, 3rd place at the World Cup of Beer in the Belgian Strong Ale category this year, and scored very well in others but failed to place.
The yeast really drives so much of the flavor in a Tripel, The ester profile is driven by WLP510 the Bastogne top fermenting yeast which ferments a bit “cleaner” tasting than the typical WLP510/WLP530 Trappist or Abbey strains. I get moderate fresh pear and apple fruit esters, muted phenols out of WLP510/Bastogne and less dark fruit/plum character than Trappist/WLP510 or less pineapple/tropical fruit character than Abbey/WLP530. But, these yeasts are infinitely complex, and how the brewer treats them from brewery to brewery can often act completely different, that’s what I get out of those yeasts in the way that I treat ‘em. I grew up all of the yeast for the batch at home from homebrew batches. A bit insane, but I think will help us achieve the results we want.
I just got word from Rodger earlier today that the fermentation was taking off as expected, which was great news.
The hops are all American, instead of a hoppy Belgian style beer like Houblon Chouffe or La Freak, the goal is to have the American hops blend with the esters in the flavor & aroma, and since this yeast leaves a bit of a gap in the normal phenol profile of a Belgian beer, that gives a space for the Amarillo hops to lock in. Amarillo has such a oily, resinous, citrusy character, a little bit goes a long way. Kind of like orange peel and coriander in a Belgian wit, the small amount of American hops in the finish are a subtle spice addition and shouldn’t jump out of the glass screaming their presence. This just might be one of the tougher parts to get right on the commercial beer, hopefully it will scale up as intended! We’ll know more here in a few weeks.”
Thank you Nate for the detailed information and to anyone who tries brewing Nate’s recipe, I’m sure he would love to try your efforts!
Good luck in Denver this year both Nathan and Triple Rock!