It’s Only Wit But We Love It! Brouwerij Maenhout Collaboration

qiuxiaHeadshot
From Qiuxia

What does “collaboration” mean in the fast-paced, and ever changing craft brewing world? There are plenty of one-and-done collaborative beers out there. They appear fast and disappear even faster.

Boom Island Brewing is no stranger to the collaboration beer scene. Last fall, we released our first collaborative beer, Kollusion, a Russian Imperial Stout,  with a small family brewery in Pittem, Belgium, Brouwerij Maenhout.

 

Kollusion
Our first collaborative beer finally met! The best part was the side-by-side tasting.The beer was an instant success on both sides of the pond. Thijs sold his batches within days, and we had to carefully guard our bottles and kegs so it lasted a little longer.

 

I always thought real collaboration should have a lasting impact, and it should come from something deeper than a quick flash-in-the-pan event. This is why I am moved by the friendship and creativity of Kevin and Thijs.

The inspiration of Lemon Drop Wit comes from a memorable trip and an evening of fun in the small town of Pittem, Belgium. Last April, we traveled with a group of beer lovers for our Belgian beer tour. Before the trip, Kevin and Thijs was already talking about another collaboration. They both felt that even though the first collaborative beer was great, they would have benefited more from brewing together. Since we were going to Belgium, Kevin decided to skip a day of the tour (he actually skipped Zythos Beer Festival!)  and go brew with Thijs. But what beer should they make together? How about Witbier? A beer style almost expired and later resurrected by Pierre Celis who created Hoegaarden.

The interesting story is, Witbier was the first beer we released in Minneapolis and Thijs in Belgium has never made a Witbier! To make it more “American”, Kevin decided to dry hop it with a hop variety that is not available in Belgium, Lemon Drop. Here is where the story gets juicy. Since we ran out of time to ship the hops to Thijs for the brew, the only choice we had was to bring the 11 pounds of hops in our suitcases. Luckily, we had a group of adventurous and willing tour folks, all the hops arrived safely (hopefully, no border control people are reading this).

Skip ahead to their production day, we go to the party later that night.  Kevin was invited to a special fundraising rock concert “Pure Rock” in the township, benefiting a local non-profit group for people with disabilities. Interestly enough it was organized by Thijs’ brother, Ward. The entire town was there and Kevin was welcomed by everyone (who said Belgians are boring and shy). We get so much done when we are having fun! By the end of the night, the name of beer, the label concept and taglines were all in place. We have a new collaborative beer!

Next day, when the tour group arrive at Brouwerij Maenhout, we were greeted by two good friends who have shared some amazing experiences together and the result is our second collaborative beer, Lemon Drop Wit – It’s only wit, but we love it!

Come celebrate the release Lemon Drop Wit, Friday, October 26 at 4pm.

The Beer:

 

Wit
Lemon Drop Wit, It’s Only Wit But We Love It!

 

The Lemon Drop Wit has a slightly peppery taste from the spelt, along with a velvety and hazy mouthfeel from the yeast.  It’s pale and cloudy and enriched with coriander and lemon zest. Lemon Drop Wit weighs in at 5.5% ABV, a modest 16 IBU, and is amazingly delicious.

 

Playing It Safe No Longer an Option. We are Kicking Ass and Taking Names

From-Kevin

This is a series of beer which I have been wanting to do for quite some time. The series itself consists of four Belgian style beers which break free from tradition in one way or another, or maybe in more than one way. We collaborated with local artist / illustrator and creator of our amazing mural of a Belgian cityscape, Shawn McCann, for the label art. I feel that Shawn was very successful in bringing a taste of Belgium back to Minnesota for this series. All of these beers are brewed as a single batch, and for us that means 12 barrels or 372 gallons.

The original idea for the series started out as a metaphorical representation of some of my favorite regions of Northern Belgium through beer. After a visit last fall to the wonderful Mouterij Dingemans, an opportunity came my way to do a collaborative beer featuring their malt for the 2017 Craft Brewer’s Conference. The Dingemans facility produces the definitive Belgian malt, both base malts and specialty malts. It is located just a few miles north of the great port city of Antwerp. My wife and I had the wonderful opportunity to visit with Karl Dingeman and get an insider’s glimpse of the malt facility on our last trip to Belgium. Karl is the 5th generation of the family owned operation and what a terrific guy! Antwerp also happens to be where my wife and I were when the idea for Boom Island was first hatched. Hence the “Born in Belgium, Crafted in Minneapolis” line. Antwerp is a beautiful city with a very rich history of not only producing malt, but also brewing beer. Which brings us to Brouwerij De Koninck. In my opinion, the definition of a Belgian Pale is the Antwerp Pale Ale brewed by Brouwerij De Konink. De Koninck started its brewing operations all the way back in 1833. In Antwerp, a glass of De Koninck is referred to as a Bolleke. Bolleke is simply the goblet shaped glass in which this beer is served. To order this beer, one would say “een Bolleke, alstublieft” or “one glass, please”. The waiter will know exactly which beer to put into that one glass. Our Belgian Pale “Silvius” was inspired over a few “Bolleke” of De Koninck. So, creating a special beer for CBC 2017 and highlighting Mouterij Dingemans was an idea that came to me very naturally.

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Kevin with Karl Dingemans after tour of the maltery.

Take our Belgian Pale recipe and bump it up to what would basically be an Imperial Belgian Pale (if there was such a thing) and then rewind the clock back to 19th century Antwerp when all the beer was delivered and served from oak. Our “Bolleke Plus” was then oak aged for 10 weeks. Finally, it was bottle conditioned as all Boom Island beers are produced. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until April for that one as it will be released at the Craft Brewer’s Conference in Washington D.C. first and we will release it the following weekend at the brewery here.

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A glass of Bolleke with a shot of yeast that fermented the beer. The local favorite.

We wanted to release the series at the beginning of this year so we needed another beer to be first in the series. From there I traveled south of Antwerp just past the city of Boom (Yes, Boom is an actual place in Belgium) and then on west to the town of Melle for two beers that were to be inspiration for the first brew in the Breaking Boundaries series. Of course the two beers, Duvel and Delirium Tremens, reign from these two areas and are today both really define what a “Belgian Golden Strong” is.

Duvel started its journey as a brewery in 1871 and brewed up a batch of what was then called “Victory Ale” to celebrate the end of World War One. It later became Duvel which means “Devil” in the local dialect of Dutch. On our last Belgium trip back in the fall, we had the wonderful fortune of meeting the brainchild behind the “Pink Elephant” on a visit to Brouwerij Huyghe in the town of Melle which is just on the outskirts of Gent. Wonderful conversations and a very generous amount of time was spent with the Master Brewer following a private peek at the entire facility over a faucet of Delirium than will literally, never run dry!

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Kevin with the creator of Delirium Tremens 
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A nice glass of the famous beer at the brewery

With an intimate knowledge of these two beers, I put some thought into how to warp that classic style without disrespecting tradition. Not exactly possible to make an Imperial version. It is already sitting at 8.5% ABV. Oak it? I was already planning to do that with the other one. Then the thought came to me. These beers are nice and floral on the nose, then deceptively high in ABV. But, that aroma is coming from the yeast and perhaps a bit of spicing (in one example, at least). The hops however, are traditional in both examples. Mostly Saaz and Styrian Goldings. Great hops that really shape Belgian brewing tradition…But, what if I think from the other side of the planet and then to the southern hemisphere, grab some crazy cool floral and tropical fruity New Zealand hops. Dry-hop the heck out of it adding fruity hops to an already floral nose. I must tell you, the result is truly terrific. I can’t wait to share it with you! This one of course, is a nice straw blond with a nice bottle conditioned effervescence at 8.5% ABV.

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First two beers of the series. Art by Shawn MaCann.

These are the first two of four. I can share with you that the third installment will be an Imperial Wheat Wine fermented with Black Currant. Basically a Witbier jacked way up, then fermented with a really intense dark fruit. The fourth and final installment will be very strong and hoppy.

I am confident you will enjoy these four beers and thanks for the continued support!

Prost,

Kevin Welch