StrongRevised

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

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Keeping up the Belgian Tradition

From-Kevin

Kriek, barrel aged sour beer fermented with cherries. Krieks originated as a variation on another Belgian style of spontaneously fermented beer called Lambic. Lambic producers originated from the area just to the south and southwest of Brussels. It is believed that the region evolved such a tradition of initial open fermentation, then wild or mixed fermentation, in wooden barrels because of the abundance of natural yeast in the air from the many local fruit orchards. Today some breweries which are not in the Lambic region produce Kriek but use other wild or mixed fermentation processes such as a vatted Pale or an Oud Bruin.

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Belgium is fairly unique in the respect that using fruit to ferment alongside wort created from grain has been a tradition for hundreds of years. I like to think of it this way. Belgium is a wonderful little country wedged between Germany which is famous for beer, and France for its wine. (There is a reason why many great Belgian beers come corked and caged, just like Champagne.) The Belgians have taken the best inspiration from those around them and put it all together to bring us the most diverse tradition of brewing we know historically. Today of course, we know American craft beer to push all boundaries. But the Belgians have been doing this for hundreds of years!

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Kevin and Liefman’s brewer

On to the Boom Island Kriek. This beer pays respect to that Lambic tradition of making beer with cherries. Since we are not producing it in the Lambic region of Belgium however, you will not find the words Lambic (or Gueuze – which means blended Lambic) anywhere on our labels. These are registered terms just like Champagne. Our wort, just like Lambic, was produced by what is called a Turbid Mash. This means during the mash, liquid is drained off, boiled, then returned to the pot to gradually raise the temperature through multiple steps. Our wort is then boiled with old, brown oxidized hops. This is also standard in producing Lambic. The old hops have lost most of their aroma and bitterness potential, but still maintain their preservative qualities. This is important to fight back Lactobacillus. But doesn’t Lactobacillus cause sourness? Lactobacillus could cause some sourness, but Lambic brewers have found the acid it produces lacks the depth and complexity which is found in a barrel aged Lambic.

This brings up a little tangent. A relatively common practice these days here in the US craft beer scene is referred to as a “kettle sour”. This is a technique which does use that very microbe, Lactobacillus, to sour the wort over the course of 24-48 hours before it is boiled. Once the desired ph is achieved, the wort is then boiled to kill off all the bacteria. The remainder of the brew process is a “clean” fermentation and the finished beer can be achieved in a matter of weeks. This allows a brewer to quickly produce a couple of German style beers like Berliner Weisse and Gose. One can find many pleasant and tasty examples of this type of beer on the market.

The Belgian approach however is quite different.  As our process continues, we have incorporated a turbid mash and then boiled the wort with oxidized hops. The wort is then cooled and moved to a stainless conical fermenter where it begins fermentation. The top is left open so the now fermenting beer can interact with the ambient air. Next comes the important part. Toward the end of the primary fermentation, the beer is moved into oak wine barrels to rest for more than a year. These recently emptied barrels had been home to sour beer produced by the same method for up to 4 years. The porousness of the wood harbors the litany of microbes which slowly soured the beer in the barrel over the course of at least a year and usually more.

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Cherry Picking in South Minneapolis

Hand picked tart cherries are added to the barrel and after a year the fermentation kicks back into action. After a couple of months, the sugars from the cherries have all been consumed and the beer is ready to bottle. Fresh yeast and a small amount of fermentable sugar is then added to the flat beer at bottling time. The bottles are corked and caged (the Belgians learned this carbonation technique from the Champagne makers of long ago) and a final fermentation takes place in the sealed bottle creating natural carbonation. This is the short story of how our Kriek is produced

 

 

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Stats:

Kriek – 4.8% ABV

Appearance : Light-Red Rose.

Flavor : Slightly tart, nutty and acidic, with a light effervescence and dry cherry halo.

Proost!

Kevin

New Boom Logo

Cuvée de Boom

From-Kevin
Cuvee
2016 Vintage Barrel Aged Cuvée de Boom.
As the name implies, this is a beer which reflects the role that winemaking has had on the beer culture of Belgium. Cuvée de Boom is roughly half Pinot Grigio and half Belgian Blond. The Cuvée is corked and caged then refermented in the bottle in the very same method as Champagne. This year, we aged the Cuvée on French oak for 6 weeks to give it even more depth from the wine perspective. It comes in at 12% ABV and has a beautiful white grape flavor which is accentuated by notes of oak as the beer warms. Slightly deeper yellow than Champagne and has a light white head of foam that sits atop the liquid.
There is a limited quantity of Cuvée de Boom made specifically for this year’s Boom Days, July 15-17.  Make sure you stop by for a bottle while supplies last.
Enjoy and Prost!
New Boom Logo

Boom Days July 15-17

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Our biggest event of the year, Boom Days, is around the corner.  So, what is Boom Days?  Well, it all started from one beer:  Cuvée de Boom. This unhopped ale consists of 45% Pinot Grigio grapes and 55% Belgian style blond ale.  Our brewer Kevin Welch specifically created it for our first Boom Days Festival two years ago. The result is this magical blend between wine and beer, creating a champagne-esque delight.

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The release of the Cuvée de Boom is a big part of Boom Days, and has become quite a party. The first Boom Days two years ago was small but fun. People came for the Cuvée de Boom, and stayed for the music and good company. The second year came, we expanded the event to three days and added a Belgian Style Homebrew Competition with help from our friends at Northern Brewers.  Over 50 home brewers sent in Belgian style brews of their own creation, with JD Park taking home the grand prize for his Saison. We will be releasing his Saison on July 16 at 1PM during the festival.

We can’t believe that the 3rd annual Boom Days is a few short weeks away.  Kevin has outdone himself again this year. He barrel aged the Cuvée!  You will be able to try his creation on tap and bring home 750ml bottles as well. Cuvée will only be available during Boom Days. Besides Cuvée, we will also be tapping some of our most exclusive releases from the past year along with your favorite year-round beers.

If there is one thing really special about this year’s Boom Days it has to be the music. Let’s face it, everyone here at Boom Island takes music seriously.  That is why we have lined up some amazing and eclectic bands for you, from Belgian rapper to jazz, from a horn ensemble, to long time local favorites.

Another key facet to Boom Days is that it features education and the sharing our knowledge and passion of brewing with others. This is why we partnered with Northern Brewer  to create the Belgian Style Homebrew Competition.  Before the award announcement at 5PM on Sunday, July 17, we have invited many local brewing industry leaders to share their knowledge of  malt, hops, yeast and brewing styles.

Anyone who has met our founder and head brewer Kevin knows that he is passionate about Belgian beer, Belgian breweries and Belgian fries. He has become the unofficial Belgian ambassador and trip planner.  Finally he is leading a tour to Belgium for our customers! We have teamed up with Book It Travel to create a Belgian Brewery Tour in April 2017.  He will be talking about the itinerary on Sunday. You will be able to sign up to receive more information about the tour.

So, what is Boom Days?  It is about great beer, music, education, and so much more. It is about a great time to share with family and friends right in the middle of a Minnesota summer that goes by entirely too fast. Cheers to you and your continued support of Boom Island Brewing!

The Arrival of Triple Brett

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Our newest beer, Triple Brett, is soon to make its official debut next month on Friday, May 13 during Minnesota Beer Week! As a beer that has been in the works over the past year and one that is an American Wild Ale produced in Minnesota, it’s an exciting time for the brewery to introduce Triple Brett to the world.

Probably the most unique characteristic of Triple Brett, as evident by its name, is that it was fermented with 3 different strains of Brettanomyces yeast. How does one go about selecting 3 different Brett strains for a beer? Very carefully, and as head brewer Kevin Welch stated, these strains were chosen for their specific aromatic properties. Triple Brett was then aged for 10 weeks in French oak red wine barrels after its first fermentation. The patience was worth it, and Triple Brett showcases a significant fruity aroma with hints of pear and pineapple against additional floral notes. With a fuller body that provides prominent fruit maltiness, Triple Brett ultimately ends in a dry finish.

Brett barrel

So why Brettanomyces? Historically, the brett yeast strain has often been an unwelcome guest in breweries and wineries as it can adversely affect fermentation, resulting in downright repulsive flavors and aromas and ruining entire batches of beer or wine. It would seem contradictory to intentionally introduce such a repugnant yeast strain to a beer, but when done correctly, the results can be extremely pleasing and complex, both in flavor and aroma. Take, for example, the Trappist abbey of Orval. When it comes time to bottle the beer, Orval adds in a strain of brett to aid in the refermentation that takes place in the bottle. Not only does this practice yield an impressive beer, but it’s a beer that continues to develop. Thanks to the additive of the brett strain, the Orval beer will mature in flavor over time. Many beer experts enjoy the experience of tasting a fresh Orval beer alongside one that has been aged as the difference is noticeably significant.

Triple Brett can be treated the same way; it’s advised that you get one bottle for now and another to save for later… much later. “This [the process of creating Triple Brett] is taking elements that exist in certain Belgian techniques traditions and forging a completely new direction,” says Kevin. “This beer will change over time; Brett will continue to mature in its flavor contribution for very long periods of time.”

The official release for Triple Brett will take place at the Boom Island Brewing taproom at 6pm on Friday, May 13. Bottles of Triple Brett will be available for purchase during the release, and perhaps plan on grabbing 2: one for the fridge and one for the cellar.

From the Brewer: 2015 Yule

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It is about tradition… not style.

Christmas beer is a long standing tradition among breweries large and small in that wonderfully quirky little country. A tradition that is, rather than a style, in a country where beer is taken as seriously as its fine cuisine.

In the town of Essen near Antwerp in the North, there is even a special beer festival held annually specifically to showcase the beers brewed for the holiday season. In 2014, over 190 holiday beers were represented at that festival. As I mentioned before, this type of beer is a tradition rather than a style. Some are dark, some are blond. ABV can range from 7% to well above 10%. One interesting side fact…the famous Trappist brewery Chimay once brewed a Christmas beer. After its initial release, it was in such demand that the monastery decided to make it available year round so they gave it a new name so today we know it as Grand Reserve (the one with the Blue Label).

Although the tradition of the holiday brew does not dictate any necessary recipe guidelines, there are some general tendencies. The majority tend to be higher in alcohol. They tend to be darker. Many have holiday type spices and some have fruit.

In effort to showcase the tradition, our Yule has many of these qualities. It is rich and dark. I have always used holiday spices, but very lightly so. To acknowledge the fact that there is a wide spectrum of interpretation in recipe formulation, I have changed the fruit from year to year. Our first Yule was in 2012 and was made with tart cherries. In 2013 I used Italian plums and 2014 was fermented with black current which gave a nicely tart edge to the big, dark and bold 13% ABV beer.

That brings us up to this year, 2015 Yule. The story begins with a word or two on cellaring. Most beer is intended to be consumed fresh. Filtered and artificially carbonated beers are very vulnerable to oxidation, which is exposed to the liquid at bottling time. I am a passionate advocate for one particular element in the Belgian tradition of brewing and that is 100% natural, re-fermentation in the bottle. This means that at bottling time, a little bit of fermentable sugar is added to the beer allowing the yeast in the unfiltered beer to undergo a final fermentation in the bottle, once the bottle is sealed. Belgian brewers refer to it as “Living Beer”. The advantage is that this process consumes the oxygen in the headspace of the bottle making beer inside very shelf-stable.  The beer is now able to mature just like fine wine and without risk of oxidation.

All that being said, earlier this year we opened a bottle of our very first Yule which was more than 3 years old. Its flavor development over time was incredible. With cellaring in mind, we brewed this year’s Yule about four months ago and allowed it to mature a slight bit ahead of time for you. I also went back to that original recipe which used tart cherries. We made a bit more this time than we did on that first batch, now 4 years ago so you can grab an extra bottle or two and lay it down for years to come. Happy Holidays and Happy Yule!

Prost!!!

Yule will be available at the Friday, Nov. 6th taproom release party at 6PM. Join us at 2014 Washington Ave N., Minneapolis, MN 55411.

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2015 Yule Release Party

Stellar in the Cellar: Belgian Strong Ale Fermented with Tart Cherries

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For the fourth year running, Boom Island Brewing Company is pleased announce the release of its Yule, the dark Belgian strong holiday ale fermented with tart cherries, with subtle nuances of holiday spices.

There seems to be two major camps when it comes to celebrating the holidays. The first follow the department store model and decorate and start counting down the days weeks before Halloween has arrived. The other group is less sentimental and can’t be bothered to get into the spirit until a few days before the holiday.

Boom Island Brewing Company falls somewhere in between the two camps: the taproom Yule Release Party is scheduled for Friday, November 6th and will be sold in stores throughout the region starting the week of November 9. Yule 2015, fermented with tart cherries will be available on tap and in 750 ml bottles for the holiday season while supplies last. Pours from an oak cask, as well as bottles of the 2014 Yule, which was fermented with black currant, will also be available for purchase during this event.

As an added bonus, the Bill Patten Trio will be playing a set at 7pm and the New Bohemia food truck will be on site as well.

Cellaring craft beer has become more in vogue, and Yule is a perfect candidate for aging. As it ages and ferments the beer becomes more complex and special, worthy of any special occasion.

YULE 2015: 11.5% ABV Dark Belgian Strong Holiday Ale
COLOR: Deep Mahogany with a Sandy Brown Colored Head
FLAVOR: Tart Cherry with Subtle Holiday Spice, Fruity and Sour

YULE 2014: 13% ABV Dark Belgian Holiday Ale, Aged One Full Year
COLOR: Deep Mahogany with an Espresso Colored Head
FLAVOR: Black Currant with Holiday Spice, Rich and Tart

© Heather Hanson Photography LLC
© Heather Hanson Photography LLC

So grab bottles to share, gift, and enjoy for yourself!