Friday, 15 December 2017

A visit to Brasserie de la Senne

Help me!
The forth day of the IBD study tour of Belgium started with a visit to Lambrechts to hear about keg washing and filling. It was interesting stuff, and I did ask them for a quote on some equipment, but I know you're only here for the beer so I'll move swiftly on to our next stop Brasserie de la Senne.

We were shown round by one of the owners, Yvan de Baets. He is a big fan of British beers, and mentioned his fondness of Harvey's Best. The brewery was originally started in 2004 using kit made from old dairy tanks. After two years they moved to cuckoo brewing  at De Ranke until they were able to re-start in Brussels in 2010. At the current site they brewed 9000hl last year and are planning to move again to a new site soon.

The beers are brewed for balance and drinkability with hop, malt and fermentation flavours coming through so he doesn't use new world hops: 95% of the hops used are German or Slovenian. One Saccharomyces yeast strain is used (though a Brettanomyces strain is also used in some beers).

To get the right ester profile in the beers flat, wide fermenting vessels are used. This keeps the hydrostatic pressure low. He also said this means less amino acids are used during fermentation so the beer has better mouthfeel. The large fermenting vessels are filled to a depth of 2m, and the smaller ones to only 1m.

The mashing temperature profile is 45-62-72-78°C, though the times are varied for different beers. Some beers are re-fermented with a Brettanomcyes bruxellensis strain found in the wild by a homebrewer in Brussels. Some beers are also barrel aged.

They have a 20hl brewlength and brew twice a day, six days a week.

Pelleted hops are used, as he says whole hops lose their aroma quickly as they age. 10-15% crystal sugar is added to the copper for beers over 6.5% ABV. This raises the alcohol but keeps the drinkability. The also use liquid invert sugar for the secondary fermentation in bottle and keg.

The yeast is used 30-35 times then re-propagated as after this flocculation decreases. The yeast is a top fermenting strain but it is bottom cropped. The beer spends five to six days in the fermenter and two weeks in the maturation vessel. The collect wort at 21-22°C, with weak beers the temperature is allowed to rise to 26°C to encourage ester formation, for strong beers the temperature is kept to 24°C to limit higher alcohol formation. Secondary fermentation is carried out at 23°C for 15 days and carbonation of 5.5g/l is aimed for in bottles. The Bretted beers have an additional three months conditioning at 15°C.
Not sure how balanced 4.5% ABV and 60 IBU is mind

Thanks to Richard Rees for the brewery pictures.

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