Each brewer has tuned the recipe to express a bit of their own brewery's personality. The version of Ghost in the Kettle brewed at Barley Forge is a dry Farmhouse Ale fermented using a wild yeast isolated from a tangerine tree in the Beancurdturtle Brewing yard, with a little extra herbal/spice character, and dry hopping.
I recommend you head down to Barley Forge and get you some of this delicious stuff.
Sometime in March-ish of this year I somehow got in a Facebook conversation with Dany Prignon, who is the man behind Fantôme. I mentioned that a collaboration with him would be the highlight of my brewing experience. His response, “Daniel. Too much! I am just a brewer.”
As the year went by plans emerged for me to collaborate with two breweries in Spain. So a trip was planned with stops in other countries – including Belgium – along the way. Dany, to my surprise, asked if I was going to visit him at Fantôme. I said I would love to, as long as it wasn't a burden to him as I speak no French. And I made it clear; I am just a brewer – not a famous brewer, maybe a good brewer – but just a brewer.
Dany answered, call him when we get to the train station Gare de Melreux-Hotton near Soy Belgium. He would come pick me, my wife, and my mother in law up at the station. How could I refuse?
So after a two hour train trip from Brussels to Hotton, Dany picked us up as promised. We received a casual, entertaining, and thorough introduction to the small and functional brewhouse and surrounds. My mother in law helped on the bottling line for a short while. Tried many good beers. Spent the day talking about one thing and another. Had a hearty Belgian lunch at Restaurant Le Jacquemart Hotton with Dany and friends (I still have to do a Yelp review).
And of course I asked him many beer related questions; what grains and hops he liked, how he managed his yeast, and so forth. And you might think these are the secrets to making Fantôme Saison – but that’s not the case.
Here are the important things that I learned:
A good brewer can make extraordinary beer in a simple and functional brewhouse.
A good base beer can be the backbone to express amazing things – seemingly different beers – if you know how to layer complexities with creative herbs, spices, and other special ingredients.
Even if you’re “just a brewer”, passion and creativity – and maybe the help of a friendly ghost – can bring magic to your beer
It was a fantastic day, a wonderful learning experience, and a great pleasure to meet Dany and make a friend of such an authentic, humorous, and charming person.
Thanks Dany! My wife, mother in law, and I are all happy to have made a friend of you.
Something new for Beancurdturtle Brewing. Project labels. Because (at least not right now) we don't sell beer. The beers we make are of two kinds.
A pilot batch - a proof of concept. The beer is a unique recipe, crafted to meet the equipment capacity of a specific brewery and fit with the typical inventory, while simultaneously embodying the concept for the beer and expressing a little personality of the brewery and/or the region where the brewery makes its home.
A sample recipe - which is a seasonal or specialty ale that usually uses new processes, creative ingredients, or exacting old school techniques. These beers are intended to demonstrate that great beer is always grounded in tradition and process, enhanced with something unexpected but not overwhelming.
The brewery that makes the beer will design their own label when they bring the beer to their customers. Sure, Beancurdturtle Brewing will get credit on the final label - but the beer is crafted so the brewery that brews it can proudly say that they own the concept, and the personality of the beer expresses something about them, and their home.
So I'm facilitating a small tasting education and beer/food pairing for friends who sold tickets for a charitable cause. I'm a trained facilitator from a past career and I'm a sucker for charitable causes.
I've done the training and pairing before - I recommend the beer and food pairing, serving order, do a tasting and evaluation 101 thing, and walk the guests through the courses with a little education on how to choose pairings. It's always a great combination of serious learning and fun.
Usually I'll slip a couple of my own beers into the mix. I assume that a few of the guests will become craft beer fans, and there's no harm in pimping my brand so to speak.
Here's the lineup:
Beancurdturtle Brewing, Nelson Ate a Persimmon
Palate and mind opener (no food pair)
Allagash Brewing Company, Allagash White
Napa cabbage and radicchio chiffonade salad, with lime juice coriander walnut oil dressing
Ballast Point Brewing Company, Sculpin IPA
Sharp cheddar Mac and cheese with shaved bresaola
Brasserie Dupont sprl, Saison Dupont
Mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes on pesto
Brasserie de Rochefort, Trappistes Rochefort 10
Torch seared, sous vide boneless beef rib on crostino with coarse sea salt
Epic Brewing Company, Big Bad Baptist
Chocolate dipped Coconut Macaroons
Beancurdturtle Brewing, Black Lingerie Batch 3, Closer (no food pair)
I'm going to a Guys' Night thing tonight. I know the guys of course, so they are all craft brew fans. I'll be bringing two versions of one of my favorite beers, and the tribute beer, BCT Quad 2013, that I brewed for my annual Quad last year.
Incidentally, you can find Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel on tap most of the time at a great place for good beer and good food in my neighborhood, The Globe - Belgian Gastropub.
You can always count on me to bring the light beers.
On the horizon of West of Africa to be more specific.
Right now I'm firming up an opportunity to put together a concept collaboration with a small Artisan Brewery and Winery on the Canary Islands. It won't be a huge project - but it will be a fun one if it works out. The first concept I'm proposing is a peppery and clean session-ish Saison, gently touched with spices grown on the Canary Islands and in West Africa.
Once I get confirmation from the brewer - and more information regarding available spices, malts, hops, yeast and such - I'll share more about the brewery and the beer. Assuming the first concept works out well - there's a very interesting possibility of using one of their kiloliter open fermenters for a wild ale some time in the future.
Beancurdturtle Brewing Saison 1833 is a session Saison at 3.5% ABV, brewed with heirloom grains, lactobacillus delbrueckii, brettanomyces bruxellensis, and a Belgian yeast strain. The acidity from the lactobacillus, and the funk from the brettanomyces are a perfect compliment for pan con tomate, Spanish boquerón stuffed olives, and queso de cabra con romero.
Lunch is served at Beancurdturtle Brewing. Wish you were here.
Someone told me today that what was happening at Beancurdturtle Brewing wasn't really clear, because I hadn't made an announcement. So, here goes...
Thanks to the generous support of Sublime Imports, Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC is an actual Gypsy Brewer. As real as any other Gypsy Brewer like Mikkeller, Pretty Things, and such - just fewer batches. I traveled to Spain in late November and concept collaboration brewed with two craft breweries to produce two fine beers that will be imported into the US. The Beancurdturtle Brewing logo will be on the label of beers at your favorite bottle shop, and the beer will be on draft at some exclusive craft beer venues.
The first, named "Valencia Saison", is a Saison with Valencian orange peel, rose hips, and orange blossom honey. I tried this off the fermenter, and was really pleased with everything about it. It's already conditioning in bottles and kegs - and the feedback from people who have tried it is very good. It should be available in the US, in two to three months, in limited markets. This beer was brewed at Premium Beers from Spain, the makers of unique and delicious craft beers like La Socarrada and Er Boquerón.
The second, as yet un-named, is a hybrid Robust Porter targeted to complement the characters of the Rioja wine barrels that it is now aging in. It should be chocolaty caramel rich, and carry the berry (red wine) and wood characters from the barrels very well. When it will be imported is based on the whims of the barrel. When the character is right, it will be bottled and kegged, and imported into the US. I'm going to guess around June. This beer was brewed at Mateo & Bernabé, an excellent craft brewery in the Rioja wine region of Spain.
So there you have it. My "Super Hobby" has transitioned into Gypsy Brewing thanks to Sublime Imports. So how can you be sure to get your hands on one of Beancurdturtle Brewing's beers? When you are at your favorite bottle shop or craft beer venue, ask them when they will be getting some of the great beers from Sublime Imports. A push from the bottom up will create the incentive necessary to get the distributors to take notice.