Thursday, October 11, 2012

Retro Review I - Hoegaarden Copy aka "Orange Beer"

"Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me"
- Winston Churchill.

Amen, brother. Of course, there's less to take out of me, but i've certainly taken a lot out of alcohol over the years.

That brings me to....

Orange beer.

Many years ago, in my brewing naivety, i thought i'd make a copy of the famous and fabulous Hoegaarden Witbier. I simply found th
e secret ingredients and presto! Orange beer! Oh, wait...

But witbier means white beer, so why is mine orange? Well you see, the secret ingredients are coriander seed and a particular type of orange peel, presumably found in Belgium. Bleh, as if there's a difference!

Okay, so i bought a pack of coriander seeds, but thought there was too many. I also grated some orange peel, you know, the navel variety (as opposed to the naval variety, whatever they are), but found it difficult to measure. Bugger it. Too much cannot be enough. Besides, it's hard to weigh because it's so damned light, and in any case bathroom scales barely can tell the difference between 0kg and 1kg, not that i can remember, 236,000 beers hence what method i used to weigh the orange gratings.

To make matters worse, i didn't have any belgian wheat malt handy, so i bought some Coopers wheat malt instead, which, apart from being about 20 shades darker, was precisely the same, only different. Once, on a different beer, i cultured some yeast from some Hoegaardens, and the beer tasted much like the real thing, but from memory, this time i didn't make enough so i added some other, non-Hoegaarden yeast, completing the farce.

Anyway, in my delusion, i waited a few weeks in anticipation of a homemade Hoegaarden, for a fraction of the price!

Come the big day, i stick a bottle of the god nectar in the fridge, wait until it gets sufficiently cold, and perform the big opening...

Pouring the magic brew, i notice the faint hint of orange, distinguishing itself from the intended beer by not only the shade, but in a colour that has probably never seen the light of day in a beer before - orange.

Ignoring the toxic colour, i swirl the beer around the glass, savouring the delicate aroma. Orange, with a hint of beer. It smells like an orchard. But is it american navel orange or australian? Is it beer or is it satan's spew? Only a daring taste of the frothing menace will put this question of the ages to bed.

Putting the fine brew to my lips, i swirl the beer around the inside of my mouth. Frothy, tick. cold, tick. Taste? Citrus central. Beer with vitamin C, yeah! Okay, so it's a little bit orange, but what's wrong with that? Oranges are good for you, right? Yeah, that's why we drink beer, because we are health nuts. "Excuse me, darling, i have a few bottles of beer to sacrifice for the good of my health, and, quite frankly, for the greater good of humanity". She's buying it, although the grimace of neglect and divided loyalties on my part could conceivably suggest otherwise.

All in all, the beer was quite drinkable, even if a tad "orchardy". Still, what was intended to be a foray into fine brewing turned into a foray into fruit beer - an oxymoron if ever there was one.

And thus it was - the folly of a mad brewer, where the witches brew of guesswork and ignorance produced a wondrous product of unrecognisable taste and assaults on the senses.

So remember, do what i say, not what i do.

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