Belgian Beer: You’re Probably Doing It Wrong

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A Belgian brewer once blew my mind by telling me that he was using the equivalent of Safale US-05 American ale yeast. He was understandably reluctant to let that information slip out. American yeast doesn’t make Belgian beer, does it? Well, of course it does. If it’s made in Belgium.

Ronald Mengerink’s brewery Dochter van de Korenaar provides an interesting case. It’s in Baarle Hertog, which quirky history made into a Belgian enclave surrounded by Dutch soil. Also, Mengerink is Dutch. His yeast is American, mostly. His beers are Belgian anyway—and not just because of where they are made. His sense of balance, attenuation—yes, he employs a multistep mash—and ample carbonation help to make the case. A dose of eccentricity and packaging with panache don’t hurt either.

Key Stats on a Few Belgian Favorites

Using the best information available—directly from the brewers when possible—here are selected metrics on a few well-known Belgian ales.

ORVAL

Mash schedule
142°F (61°C) for 15 minutes
154°F (68°C) for 25 minutes
162°F (72°C) for 30 minutes
and 170°F (77°C) for 10 minutes before sparging at 170°F (77°C)

IBUs: 38
Carbonation: 5.0 volumes

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