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Ghost in the Kettle - The Barley Forge Release
Ghost in the Kettle - The Barley Forge Release

On tap tonight at Barley Forge Brewing Co., their version of Ghost in the Kettle, a four way collaboration. The beer is a Saison/Farmhouse styled ale designed by Beancurdturtle Brewing, and brewed at Barley Forge Brewing Co., Brasserie Saint Somewhere, and Brasserie Fantôme.

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.

Santé!

=BCT=

Brasserie Fantôme
Brasserie Fantôme

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.

À votre santé!
=BCT=

Now, the photos…

Gare de Melreux-Hotton
We come bearing gifts to Gare de Melreux-Hotton.
Brasserie Fantôme
Brasserie Fantôme
À votre santé
À votre santé
Just fun stuff
Just fun stuff
Just fun stuff
Just fun stuff
Just fun stuff
Just fun stuff
Dany Fermenters and Me
Dany Fermenters and Me
My mother in law bottling
My mother in law bottling
An energetic lecturer
An energetic lecturer
A hearty lunch at Restaurant Le Jacquemart
A hearty lunch at Restaurant Le Jacquemart
Fantôme Saison at Brasserie Fantôme
Fantôme Saison at Brasserie Fantôme
Fantôme Saison at Brasserie Fantôme
Fantôme Saison at Brasserie Fantôme
Dany told me why this one is funky, and very likely one of a kind
Dany told me why this one is funky, and very likely one of a kind

 

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I will be putting together some fun posts with more details and photos as time permits. But for now a summary, and some photos.

Summary...

  • 21+ days.
  • 150+ miles walked.
  • 6 breweries visited.
  • 3 beers brewed.
  • Much good food.
  • Many friends made and met.

Special thanks to...

  • Dany Prignon at Brasserie Fantôme, who we spent a day with. Wonderful guy and great host.
  • Alberto at Mateo & Bernabé & Friends, who we brewed two beers with. An American Double IPA, and a White IPA - both to a level that will blow away the Spanish market.
  • Pau and Toni at Cerveza Artesana Spigha, with whom we brewed a Robust Porter with Spanish Coffee. Another specialty beer in the Spanish market.
  • My friends at La Socarrada Cervesa Artesanal, with whom we are planning the next batch of Valencia Saison and giving barrel aging advice.
  • Txema and Pau at La Boutique de la Cerveza, a great bottle shop in Valencia Spain.
  • My beer "friki" friends, in Valenci - Manu, Carlos, Eva, Andreas, and Christina. For remembering us and being fans.

Enjoy some random photos for now...

Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
De Halve Maan (Straffe Hendrik)
De Halve Maan (Straffe Hendrik)
Brasserie Fantôme
Brasserie Fantôme
Cerveza Artesana Spigha
Cerveza Artesana Spigha
La Socarrada Cervesa Artesanal
La Socarrada Cervesa Artesanal
At La Boutique de la Cerveza
At La Boutique de la Cerveza

 

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Cheers!
=BCT=

Porter Alcoiana Project - Pilot Batch
Porter Alcoiana Project - Pilot Batch
Black Lingerie - a sample recipe
Black Lingerie - a sample recipe. And in this case, an evolving reserve recipe.

 

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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)

That will do nicely!

Cheers!
=BCT=

Beancurdturtle Brewing Nelson Ate a Persimmon & Black Lingerie for a tasting.
Beancurdturtle Brewing Nelson Ate a Persimmon & Black Lingerie for a tasting.

 

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Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel from Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan

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.

Cheers!
=BCT=

Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel and BCT Quad 2013
Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel and BCT Quad 2013

 

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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.

Cheers!
=BCT=

 

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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.

=BCT=

Spanish lunch with BCT Saison 1833
Spanish lunch with BCT Saison 1833

 

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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.

Mash ingredients for Valencia Saison
Mash ingredients for Valencia Saison.

 

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