Oh De Ranke XX bitter, let me count the ways I love thee.
I’m always shocked when I hear of people who aren’t aware that this beer exists. To me it’s a solid Belgian classic. It was an unusually highly bittered beer for Belgian standards when it first came to be (around 65 IBUs) and displays magnificent balance of that bitterness along with a touch of the usual Belgian notes of cloves and banana. It’s a beer both myself and Simon will choose everytime if it is on and we’d both love to produce something similar at home.
After consulting a few friends and brewers for advice on the yeast, the general consensus was to use T58 – although I had been warned it doesn’t attenuate well and I wanted some dryness.
For hops the original uses Brewers Gold at 75 mins and Hallertau Mittelfruh right at the end. Whilst I was mulling over deciding whether to make this Dorothy at A Bushel of Hops got in touch to ask if she could send me some of their Pilgrim hops to brew with. I gladly accepted them and thought they might work well in this beer. They have a spicy character along with notes of pear, lemon and grapefruit. They smelt of peaches to me. So in they go.
Malt wise it’s just 100% pilsner.
The brew went well and it was merrily fermenting at a nice temperature until the apocalyptic heatwave happened and it got up to 27 degrees. This resulted in the beer being slightly more ester forward and as everyone predicted it didn’t attenuate, it only got down to 1.010. However I am still pleased with the result, the bitterness is spot on and it’s a proper sit in the garden in the sun beer. The hops have worked beautifully, they marry very well with the spicy notes of the yeast. There’s a lovely lemon sherbert quality to them with a hint of fresh pear.
I have, of course, bretted half of it. It will attenuate one way or another!
A big thank you to Dorothy at A Bushel of Hops, I don’t usually use British grown hops and they surprised me with their flavour. Will definitely be researching British hops for a bretted black IPA which is in the pipeline.