I have to admit it, I am a big fan of Burning Sky Brewery. Every time I try one of the beers I am impressed with the craftsmanship and crushability of their beers. I recently bought a mixed pack of their beers and was impressed with all them. Of those beers, one in particular stuck out to me - it was their beer New Alliance.
Their website gives more details about the beer:
Brewed with our friend Yvan De Baets from Brasserie De La Senne, this modern Anglo-Belgian pale ale represents both breweries’ love of crisp pale ales. A high proportion of spelt aids the dryness. Hoppy on the nose with an assertively pleasing bitterness.
Like any good homebrewer, I thought I'd have a go at brewing this myself to see if I could replicate this beautiful beer. In this article, I take you through the steps I went through and show you the final result.
The Yeast Starter
Before I get too far ahead of myself, it's worth saying that I noticed that there is a very thin layer of yeast that is visible when you pour out of the can. On the Burning Sky website, they mention that their beers are unfiltered, so I guess the dregs in the can are a result of this. Either that or they might possibly can condition their beers.
With this in mind, the next time I opened a can of New Alliance, I saved the dregs from the can and added it to a yeast starter.
I wasn't sure if it was actually going to work, but after a few days the yeast took off like a rocket and I built the starter up from there. I was also pleasantly surprised when I sniffed the flask - it smelt like banana and cloves! This seemed like the yeast from a Weissbier / Witbier.
The Recipe (BIAB)
If you look closely at a can of New Alliance, you'll notice that most of the ingredients are listed. With this in mind, I took a stab at recreating the recipe.
The recipe below is for the all-grain Brew in a Bag method, but it can be scaled to suit your needs depending on your setup.
Batch Size: 5 gal
Boil Time: 60 mins
|Pale Ale Malt (Crisp)||3 Kg|
|Spelt Malt (BestMalz)||1 Kg|
|Chit Malt (BestMalz)||500 g|
|Rolled Oats||500 g|
|Warrior||8 g||Boil (60 min)||Boil||Pellet|
|Motueka||25 g||Boil (10 min)||Boil||Pellet|
|Motueka||75 g||30 mins||Hopstand||Pellet|
|Lactic Acid (Optional)||3ml|
|Motueka||60 g||3 days before||Dry Hop||Pellet|
|Dregs from Can||N/A||17 Celsius|
Let's get brewing
The night before I was due to brew, I measured out my water and filtered it to remove any chlorine, chloramine and other impurities. I also dosed the water with a sprinkle of Sodium Metabisulphate as an extra precaution. If you'd like to learn more about how I prepare my water for brewing, I recommend reading this article that I've previously written. As always, my chores before a brew day also involve cleaning and sanitising as much as I'm going to need.
The following afternoon I fired up the kettle and aimed for a strike temperature of 65 C and added the grains to my brew bag. Once the mash was complete, I added the bittering charge of Warrior hops.
After the 60 minutes of boil time was complete, I added the Motueka hops to the whirlpool at around 80-90 degrees before cooling the wort with my immersion chiller.
Once the wort was at pitching temperature, I pitched the yeast starter. Before racking to my fermenting bucket, I took a reading of the original gravity (OG) which came in at just over 1.045.
The waiting game
I was quite suprised to smell that the yeast starter smelt like Weissbier / Witbier yeast. There was definite aromas of banana, bubblegum and clove. After doing a bit of research online, it turns out that if you ferment these yeast strains at lower temperatures you get suppressed esters, less banana and pear. My hunch was that perhaps this is what the Burning Sky team were doing with New Alliance.
With the airlock bubbling away, I patiently waited for my brew to be ready. With about 3 days to go until kegging, I dry hopped with around 60 grams of Motueka.
When fermentation was complete, I cold crashed the beer overnight and then transferred to a keg and pressurised before waiting another few days before tasting.
I'd love for the summary of this article to be a happy ending, but I have to admit that in a side by side comparison, these beers were completely different. Both in terms of colour and taste. The image below should give you an idea of the beers side by side (left is theirs, right is mine).
Appearance - My version of this beer has almost dropped completely clear. The colour is golden with an ever so slight haze to it. There is also a nice fluffy head that lasts with some nice lacing on the glass.
Aroma - If you take a sniff of the glass, you get a strong aroma of banana followed by the hoppy notes of Motueka. My version is definitely more of a Weissbier / Witbier that has been hopped with Motueka compared to the Burning Sky version.
Taste - A great tasting beer, again it has the classic notes of a Weissbier / Witbier but the hops shine through for a nice clean bitterness.
The image below is a closer look at the original beer:-
And this is a closer look at my version:-
Overall this is a good beer - it tastes great and I am happily making my way through the keg. I am a bit dissapointed that they turned out so differently, but it has been a great learning experience. The summary is that my version is more like a well-hopped Witbier and the original is cleaner and more like a crushable Pale Ale. If I am completely honest with myself, I much prefer the Burning Sky version - it is the reason I brewed this beer in the first place!
I had some ideas why the two beers were so different:
- Perhaps the yeast in this beer was a mix of different yeasts (similar to this article) and when I grew the dregs from the can, I ended up with more of the Belgian yeast that didn't fully represent the yeast that Burning Sky originally brewed with.
- If I were to rebrew this beer, I would ditch the Vienna and Chit malts. They definitely made the beer darker and more golden than the commercial version.
- If you look on the Burning Sky website, their tagline is "Artisan Brewers and Blenders". Perhaps this beer is a blend of a Brasserie De La Senne Belgian beer and a Burning Sky hoppy beer?
I hope you enjoyed this article - it's been a great learning experience for me!
If you use Brewfather as your brewing software of choice, I've also made the recipe publicly available for you to copy.