Sunday 2 August 2015

Don't fear the Namur: Bocq Brewery

The fourth day of the Belgian study tour started with a trip to Bocq brewery. Another name that didn't ring a bell but I had had of one of their beers, Blanche de Namur. Sadly I didn't remember liking it.

They do quite a few more, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Their yeast makes a lot of 4VG but not a lot of esters. Water comes from two wells but is treated by reverse osmosis and then has calcium added back. They use a lot of two row barley but six row for the wheat beer, though it has a low soluble nitrogen ratio. Unmalted wheat is of course also used in the wheat beer. The hops are  mainly Saaz and Saphir, though hopping rates are fairly modest: the highest is 25-27 IBU and the wheat beer is 11. Some beers have spices added which include orange peel, coriander, liquorish and ginger.

As seems to the common in Belgium the brewery is a mixture of ancient and modern, though part of the old brewery (the mash kettle) is still in use.

They brew four times a day, four days a week, using four tonnes of malt.

They have a 90 minute mash, starting at 62°C and rising to 72°C. The wheat beer only has a short boil to keep the natural haze, other beers are boiled for 60-90 minutes to get 6% evaporation.

They ferment at 23°C but still need a diacetyl rest at times and have conditioning tanks.

The yeast goes for 25 generations but they can have problems with it as the amount of sugar used can cause carbon catabolite repression. Try saying that after a few glasses of Triple! Zinc and oxygen are added to the wort to help the yeast, though the pitching rate is relatively low at 5 million cells per ml.

After fermentation the wheat beer is chilled to only 15°C to help keep the haze and is unfiltered. The other beers are chilled to 2-3°C and filtered. The bottle conditioned beers start at 2 -2.5g/L CO2 with a target of 7.5.

The fruit beers get a whopping 250 PU which sounds very high to me, but as it must have a low hopping rate and high sugar content I guess they're playing it safe.

As to the all important tasting, I'm happy to report that I enjoyed the beers very much, though I did steer clear of the fruit beers as they sounded suspiciously like they were at the alcopop end of things.

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