Monday, May 21, 2012

Recipe: Kriek Beer

Last week was American Craft Beer Week. This week, meanwhile, kicks off a number of regional beer weeks in cities around the country. In honor of the events, we're sharing the recipe for our latest homebrew, which I'm calling Up a Kriek Without a Plan.

Kriek (pronounced "creek") is a style of beer near and dear to my heart. It's a Belgian style (my maternal grandmother's side of the family is Belgian), and was perhaps my most favorite beer prior to going gluten-free.

Kriek is a lambic beer. Unlike "regular" beers brewed with the Saccharomyces genus of yeasts, lambics are brewed with S. plus the Brettanomyces genus of yeast. Brett—as brewers often refer to it—imparts a very distinctive flavor profile to lambic beers, including a subtle sourness. To counter-balance that sourness, lambics are often made with fruit puree, such as cherries (kriek) to add a subtle sweetness.

As you might guess, kriek is something of a specialty beer. I've known since going gluten-free in early 2007 more than five years ago that if I was ever going to drink a kriek again, I would have to brew it myself. This batch happened quite by accident (hence, Up a Kriek Without a Plan...). I had intended to brew a saison, but then decided to add Brett and make it a lambic. And if I was going to go through the trouble of making a lambic, I may as well go "all in" and make it a kriek. Right?

This was a first attempt. The beer is still quite young. Lambics can age in the bottle for 6 months or more before the flavors fully mature. But I can tell that this one missed the mark. It tastes just fine as a gluten-free beer, but does it have the classic flavor profile of a kriek that I was going for? No.

The alcohol content is way too high (in the ballpark of 9.5%), the Brett flavors are underdeveloped, the cherries are too weak, and the beer has approximately zero head retention. But it was an invaluable learning experience. As we've been enjoying the first bottles of Up a Kriek Without a Plan, I've been formulating just that ... a plan for round number two. Stay tuned.

Up a Kriek Without a Plan
Makes 2 cases (48 bottles)

5 1/2 gallons distilled water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp gypsum
12 lbs gluten-free brewer's sorghum syrup
2 oz US Goldings hops
1/2 oz crushed coriander seeds
Saccharomyces Belgian Saison gluten-free yeast blend
Brettanomyces Belgian Lambic gluten-free yeast blend
3 lbs sterile cherry puree
Dextrose (for carbonation priming during bottling)

1. Pour 2 gallons of water into a 6-gallon carboy.
2. Add 2 1/2 gallons water, plus the salt and gypsum, to your brew pot. Bring to a boil.
3. Add the sorghum syrup to your brew pot. Hold at a boil until well dissolved.
4. Add 1 oz hops and the coriander and boil for 20 minutes. (A fine-mesh hop bag is useful for this.)
5. Add 1/2 oz hops and boil for 5 more minutes.
6. Add the remaining 1/2 oz hops and turn off the flame.
7. Siphon the wort into your carboy.
8. When the wort has cooled to fermentation temperature (~70 deg F), pitch the Saccharomyces yeast. (Prepare a starter culture ahead of time, if necessary, depending on your strain.)
9. Add the remaining 1 gallon of distilled water, using it to wash any yeast and wort remnants from your funnel into the carboy.
10. Add an airlock and let ferment in a quiet location with stable temps away from direct light.
11. After one month and/or when you get stable gravity readings: Add the cherry puree to a second carboy, siphon the beer from primary to secondary, and pitch the Brett yeast.
12. Again add an airlock and let ferment in a quiet location with stable temps away from direct light.
13. After 1 additional month and/or when you get stable gravity readings: siphon the beer into your bottling bucket. Add an appropriate amount of dextrose dissolved in hot water for carbonation priming. (Homebrew books have plenty of info on calculating how much dextrose to use depending on how much wort you have...)
14. Bottle the beer and let bottle-condition for at least 2 weeks before sampling the first bottle. The longer you can wait the better!

This recipe assumes you take all the appropriate homebrewing steps to sanitize your equipment at various stages of the brewing process.

Degrees of Free-dom
This recipe is: gluten-free, dairy/lactose/casein-free, fish-free, shellfish-free, peanut-free, tree-nut-free, soy-free, vegetarian/vegan.

Nutrition Info
Per bottle: I have no idea. It's beer. Drink it. Or don't... 




Amanda on Maui said...

I want to have a bottle of that. I loved the heck out of lambic before going gluten free. I still get a little mopey when I see Lindemann's at the store. I have great memories of raspberry lambic.

Juliet said...

Wow! Thanks for the recipe. I want to try making gluten-free beer to enjoy together with my family. I do not have to worry now that I might suffer from allergy symptoms again.

peterbronski said...

Hi Amanda... Just wait until the next iteration. I expect it'll be MUCH closer to the target! Hopefully I'll figure out a way to brew a GF version of your beloved Lindemann's. (They're great, and Belle Vue makes an awesome kriek, too.)

Hi Juliet... There are definitely easier GF beer recipes that this one to try, if you're going to go that route. Search the blog for my Sisters Saison recipe. Or search some of the popular home brew forums, some of which have dedicated GF discussions now.

Cheers, Pete

iMarque said...

Next itteration?