Homebrewing a Belgian Table Beer

Well I decided to take a chance on a genre of beer I’ve never even tasted before… I think I made a mistake.

Recipe Source: Ontario Beer Kegs

Beer Specifications

Beer Name: OBK Belgian Table Beer
Beer Style: Belgian Table Beer
Recipe Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 5.25 gallons / 19.9 litres
Estimated SRM:
Estimated IBU: 26
Estimated OG: 1.037
Estimated FG: 1.007
Estimated ABV: 4%

Grain Bill/Fermentables

LBS FERMENTABLES
6 Pilsner
1 Toasted Flaked Wheat

Hops

OZ TIME HOPS
1 60 min Hallertauer

Yeast

# YEAST
1 SafBrew T-58 Specialty Ale

Fermentation Schedule

21 days Primary
7-14 days Bottle Conditioning
Optimal Fermentation Temperature: 59-68°F / 15-20°C
Place fermenter in stable temperature, out of the light.

Directions

Mash Temperature: 150°F / 65.5°C
Mash Time: 60 min
Strike Water Volume: 4.5 gallons / 17 litres
Sparge Water Volume: 4.5 gallons / 17 litres
Boil Duration: 90 min

I’ll admit that before starting this brew I was searching for something different to try. Something you probably couldn’t find in the local store, something that only a homebrewer could easily make happen. Well… I found something alright.

The recipe was simple, ingredients very cheap and the brew day was really straight forward. I let it ferment for 3 weeks before bottling it with a lower carbonation target to try and keep it within style. My original gravity (OG) reading was 1.030 and my final gravity (FG) reading was 1.004 for an ABV of 3.41% which was about half a percent below target. So how did it turn out?

Not a bad looking beer

First thing: the smell. The smell could be kindly described as… odd? It’s almost a sour smell but with hints of pepper. The pepper makes sense as the speciality yeast T-58 claimed to impart something to that effect but the sour is what really threw me off. It could easily be mistaken for the smell of a not-so-sour sour beer of some kind.

The taste is just… strange. It’s slightly tart up front but then not much of anything beyond that. Almost no real after taste at all. I even got a few other people to try it and all of them said basically the same thing. It’s not terrible but it’s so inoffensive to the point where it’s so boring it’s almost not even worth drinking. It’s really hard to explain this beer, and I’m having a hard time putting it into words, but it’s just off in some way that makes it tough to drink.

To be honest I think I’ve got a bit of a dud here which is a shame considering I have a substantial amount of it bottled… I know the common saying in the homebrewing community is to never pour out a beer and to just give it more time, but to be honest I’ve already given it more than a month in the bottle and it hasn’t gotten any better :(. Next time I may have to be a bit more discerning with my choice of homebrew recipes.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Gordon Monaghan says:

    I’d let it sit for a while, like 2 or 3 months and see what you get. I brewed a low gravity saison this summer which was kinda blah after a month or so in hotel. Three months later and it’s really tasty. My experience is that Belgians aren’t quick grain-to-glass beers. Not sure why, but I tend to like them after several months of cellaring.

    1. Brewers Journey says:

      Thanks for the feedback Gordon. I’ll leave it be for a while longer and see what happens before taking any ‘drastic’ steps 🙂

  2. Eric says:

    I’m about to brew a table beer based off a recipe from Jester King (2.9% ABV). The main differences are the use of French/Belgian Saison yeast strains and the use of dry hops. As it was explained, the younger version will be more hop forward but over time the hop aroma fades and the yeast character will become more pronounced. But that’s more of a variation based on the desired outcome. As far as your recipe, the only thing that seems off to me is the amount of mash liquor: 17L with 7lbs of grain give you a whopping 2.4L/lb liquor to grist ratio, which is a super thin mash. You could probably get away with about 8.5-9L in the mash and then sparge to bring your preboil volume up to about 25L (6.5-7ish gallons). I’m thinking you might get more malt expression if you reduce your overall liquor, and a different yeast strain or some dry hopping may add some of the flavor/aroma you’re looking for. Defintely was worth taking a swing at though, they’re really cool and drinkable beers!

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