Award-winning homebrewer Paul Zocco (Zok) shared this bière de garde recipe, modeled on Jenlain Ambrée from Brasserie Duyck located in far northern France, just to the west of Belgium. This bière de garde version is possibly the definitive representation of the style. Amber in color, this beer shows a strong malt-forward character with notes of caramel and toffee. Though some hops flavor exists, it is very subtle. Some drinkers have mentioned corky and musty notes, which are probably due to the aging qualities of this style of beer and possibly the cork used in its bottling.
This recipe is scaled to 5 gallons (19 liters) with a brewhouse efficiency around 80 percent. Zok recommends using soft, low-mineral water throughout the brewing process.
ABV: 7.5 %
12 lb (5.4 kg) Pilsner malt
1 lb (454 g) Crystal malt 90°
1 lb (454 g) CaraMunich malt
1 oz (28 g) Northern Brewer pellets [6.9% AAU] at 60 minutes
0.5 oz (14 g) Czech Saaz [3.7% AAU] at 5 minutes
There are many choices. If you don’t have a favorite, try Wyeast 3726 Farmhouse Ale or White Labs WLP570 Belgian Golden Ale.
Mash the crushed grains at 150°F (66°C) for 60 minutes. I use the rate of 1 pound (454 g) of crushed grain per quart (946 ml) of water that is heated to 15°F(8°C) higher than my targeted mash temperature because there will be about a 15°F (8°C) drop in temperature when the grains are added. Mix well and adjust the mash temperature with hot or cold water. Mash in an insulated vessel for 60 minutes. Vorlauf until the wort runs clear. Sparge with 168°F (76°C) water until you get 6 gallons (22.7 l), which will be boiled down to 5 gallons (19 l). Boil the wort for 60 minutes following the hops schedule. After chilling the wort to below 80°F (27°C), pitch the yeast.
Ferment at the recommended temperature for your yeast strain (refer to the yeast lab specs, roughly 65–70°F/18–21°C). Transfer the beer to a secondary fermentor after 10 days of primary fermentation. Continue fermenting at 65–70°F (18–21°C) until all signs of fermentation are gone, usually another 2 weeks. On bottling day, condition with ¾ cup of corn sugar (dextrose) or 1¼ cup of dry malt extract (DME). Rest bottles at 65–70°F (18–21°C) for 10 days until you achieve carbonation. Then enjoy.
Partial-mash brewers can calculate the amount of dry or liquid malt extract (DME or LME) to use in place of the base grain. Though DME is a bit more malt rich, use the same calculation. To get the amount of DME or LME to use, multiply the base grain amount by 0.75. Your OG will be basically equivalent. For a partial-mash brew, mash the Crystal and CaraMunich malts using the method described in “Directions” and simply sparge the runnings into the kettle along with the DME or LME.
Podcast Episode 21: New Belgium's Wood Cellar Director & Blender Lauren Limbach
Jamie is joined by American sour beer pioneer Lauren Limbach of New Belgium Brewing, and they talk about the evolution of New Belgium’s sour beer program, from the earliest days two decades ago to the advances in analytics and technical process today.