Beer and Pavement

Designing a Beer

Posted in Beer by SM on November 22, 2011

I brew.

As my last two batches of home brew disappear and a commercially-made beer disappoints, I begin to look to brewing another batch. Obviously, I don’t brew one batch after another like some. No, I get around to it when I get around to it. I’m starting to get that itch and thought I’d share my thought process.

After Saturday’s disappointing experience with Odell’s Woodcut No. 5, I decided that I wanted to brew a Belgian Quad. First, I had to figure out what goes into a Quad to give it that rich, raisin-y flavor and aroma. That’s easier said than done. I looked around the internet and it doesn’t seem all that clear how the flavors of a Quad are created, especially in a batch using extract. I could read this guy’s book, but I’m feeling a bit lazy and just want to figure something out. Of course, that also means that I want to play with the ingredients to make it my own. For example, I don’t think your traditional Quad contains maple syrup. So, I think I’m really just trying to make a big, dark beer with Belgian yeast.

I’ll play with some specialty grains to obtain that dark color, but the raisin flavors and aromas will be harder to achieve. I am considering a little cheating or even going the Dogfish Head route by adding raisins and figs, but it seems more complex than I might be willing to try. From what I can tell, these beers use very little in the way of hops and what they use tend to be German. Additionally, I’ll add some candied sugar. The Belgian yeast should help to create the flavor I’m after.

The above portion was for my beer/homebrew nerd readers. Comment freely and steer me in the right direction. The conversation below has to do with naming the beer.

I’ve made a point to name my beers after musicians, albums, or song titles. This beer should be dark, sweet, slight funk, and relatively boozy. So, what should I name it?

I really have no clue where to go with this one. Often, it’s where I start. For example, Wowee Zowee Double IPA was intended to pay homage to the Pavement album by the same name. It actually lived up to its namesake. Now, that I’ve identified a style and flavor profile, I have to figure out which album, song, or musician to name my new brew after. Here’s what I’m thinking…

Slint (band) – Spiderland (album by Slint) – “Good Morning, Captain” (song off Spiderland)
The darkness this album paints is best exemplified in the final track. However, I’m not sure if any of these names would make for a good beer name. Slint Quad? Who wants to drink a Spiderland? Can’ Good Morning, Captain make a good beer name?

Will Oldham’s “band” felt like the perfect inspiration for this beer. Dark and oddly sweet underneath… Of course, as I said before, I wasn’t inspired by a band for this particular beer. So, who knows whether this would work.

Blues Xplosion
I dunno. I’m stretching it a bit here. Jon Spencer would drink this brew, right? Probably not. Besides, this name should probably be saved for something more extreme.

The California Raisins

And, that’s as far as I’ve made it. I have a long way to go. So, if you have suggestions for the recipe or the beer’s name, leave them in the comments. We’ll discuss.

19 Responses

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  1. John King said, on November 22, 2011 at 7:12 am

    I just used raisins in my mash for an imperial stout. I’ve used both raisins, dates, and figs in my secondary as well…one word of note though…make sure there is extra room in your secondary vessel because the sugars in the fruits will cause fermentation to happen again. I’ve found in my barleywines, those darker fruits add a nice complexity to the beer. Also, when adding candi sugar…think about how much sugar you’d be getting from the grains, the candi sugar, and the fruits…you don’t want so much sugar it’s a overcarbonated bomb.

    • Zac said, on November 22, 2011 at 7:59 am

      Thanks. I will probably go extract with specialty grains on this one. I’ve figured out some ways to get more out of extract. It also allows me to perfect some other techniques before I eventually make the all-grain plunge. I’ll be prepared for the sugar, but it’s good to keep in-mind.

      When you added the fruits to the secondary, what did you do to prep them? I’ve seen a lot of information on this and I’m not sure how to proceed.

      • John King said, on November 22, 2011 at 8:02 am

        I generally take the figs and the dates, slice them in half and put them in a glass container. I will then add bourbon to them and sometimes vanilla extract and shake it up. I do this the day I brew, so they sit in the stuff for a week. Then you can either just dump it all in the secondary or strain out the bourbon/extract.

      • Zac said, on November 22, 2011 at 8:05 am

        You and your bourbon. It’s as if you’re from bourbon country or something.

        I had considered this. Some sites suggested using boiling water in various ways. Bourbon or a brandy might be a good option here. Or rum?

      • John King said, on November 22, 2011 at 8:20 am

        Personally, I wouldn’t use boiling water. I’d use a liquor, keep the sugar in there…especially if you are going to use the liquor in your secondary.

  2. jeffmenter said, on November 22, 2011 at 7:49 am

    #1: I have Brew Like a Monk if you wanna borrow it.

    #2: You could try building up a yeast starter from the sediment at the bottle of your favorite quad.

    #3: Good luck, I can’t wait to try it.

    • Zac said, on November 22, 2011 at 8:01 am

      1. I may want to borrow that just so I can grasp a better idea of how to achieve that Quad-raisin quality.

      2. That’s not a bad idea. I know one has to leave some beer in the bottle, what else should I do to insure that I can use the yeast for a starter? Is there a link with directions you’ve used? Otherwise, I can look it up.

      3. Thanks. As always, you will.

  3. Steve said, on November 22, 2011 at 8:01 am

    I think Good Morning, Captain sounds like a great name for a beer. You could call it a Breakfast Quad or something, to follow it through to its kind-of-natural conclusion.

    “This beer should be dark, sweet, slight funk, and relatively boozy.”

    I’m thinking The National or the The Walkmen could fit that bill.

    • Zac said, on November 22, 2011 at 8:03 am

      Ah, the Walkmen. I may have to give that some more thought. I can think of a few song titles that might work… “We’ve Been Had” … “Four Provinces” … You might be on to something, Steve.

  4. Mark said, on November 22, 2011 at 9:31 am

    I’m reading Brew Like a Monk and recently looked into the Quadrupel style for my blog and… I found depressingly little about the style in the book. There were only one or two references, and one of them called it something like “a style that’s not really a style.”

    I’m not an expert brewer at all, but my approach would be to find a popular commercial example that I know I like (La Trappe Quad apparently pioneered the style a couple decades ago) and try to find a clone recipe somewhere… then tweak it to meet your needs (I’m pretty sure that Clone Beers book has a few quads in it…)

    • Zac said, on November 22, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Clones! What a great idea! Thanks.

  5. Mike said, on November 22, 2011 at 10:55 am

    My favorite sweet, dark, boozy album of all time is Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers, which closes with a song called “Take Care.” And the sweet, dark, boozy album I’ve been listening to this week is Drake’s Take Care. So no matter what you do in re: beer name, it should probably include the words “Take” and “Care,” probably in that order.

    • Zac said, on November 22, 2011 at 11:08 am

      That’s a well-thought-out suggestion Mike, but it’s looking like Four Provinces is winning out in my mind.

      • Mike said, on November 22, 2011 at 11:13 am

        That’s a good name, but “Take Care, Four Provinces” is even better!

  6. The Alemonger said, on November 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Hey Zac,

    I like the way you “plan” your brew sessions. The “I’ll get around to it when I get around to it” smacks of true creativity which is a good thing – usually. I’m finally getting around to my next batch myself so I know the “process.” I also applaud your effort in coming up with your own recipe rather than taking the easy way out. Much more fun that way. Risk – reward at its brewing best (or worst).

    Anyway, I think you’ll find that even a commercially available Belgian Abbey strain smack pack ( like from wyeast) will get you pretty far down the road to a rich, raisiny brew (at least on the nose) – especially if you push the upward limits of your primary fermentation temperature. The yeast will throw off more complex and aggressive notes at higher temps. Just be careful not to let it get above the stated tolerance or some of the yeast (even all of it) will die off before its time. I had that problem recently and had to do some field hospital improvisation to revive it. I’m not a big fan of Belgian candy sugar – just a bit too obtrusive for my tastes but the Belgians have had pretty good success with it and they do seem to know their beer so I’m just an outlier there.

    As far as the name… well, It’s hard to find a darker, boozier and more foreboding album than Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs. Annette Funacello circa 1970 sucking helium balloons couldn’t lighten the mood of that one with any success. “Rain Dogs Quad” lacks any alliterative mastery but it sure is dark and boozy.

    Good luck with it!



    • Zac said, on November 22, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      Thanks, man! Those are great suggestions for the brew and the name. I have found that others’ recipes just don’t meet my desires like my own. And yes, it is more adventuresome.

    • G-LO said, on November 23, 2011 at 11:54 am

      Rain Dogs! Quite possibly Tom Waits greatest album. That’s saying something when you consider that he has put out some weird and wonderful music throughout his long career.

  7. broadfordbrewer said, on December 8, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Did you brew this yet? I plan to brew a dubbel or triple at some point but feel I need to do a few more straight forward brews first. I like the look of what these guys brewed

    • Zac said, on December 8, 2011 at 10:23 am

      No, I’ve been busy. My hope is sometime over the holiday I’ll find time to get it done. Thanks for the tip on the book.

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