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More news of Oerbier changes as posted by B United and Kris at De Dolle Bro

Posted by Jeff "TruthBrew" on 06/16/2005 09:43:38 AM

What Happened to Oerbier Since 2000?

Kris Herteleer

De Dolle Brouwers, Esen, Belgium

At the end of that year the source of yeast had disappeared. The yeast

strain used for Oerbier & Stille Nacht had come from Rodenbach brewery in

Roeselare and they had decided to not supply any yeast any more due to reasons of

organization and pratical reasons.

Since decades there were some breweries Rodenbach had supplied yeast to:

Trappists of Westvleteren who switched to Westmalle yeast after problems with

sour beer. Felix in Oudenaarde who stopped brewing in 2001. Another famous

brewery using Rodenbach's yeast was Liefmans. After the takeover by RIVA

Rodenbach stopped the delivery of yeast to them a couple of years prior to 2000.

The yeast of Rodenbach is very special and contains some different strains

of bacteria other than Saccharomyces Cerevisea. They are Gram-positive and

Gram-negative bacteria, some saye even Brettanomyces, which other breweries fear

and do not like in their installations. Brewers say "clean" beer and "sour"

beer do not match, so no lager beer brewer will use that strain for due to a

potential acid-type beer in the same brewery.

Supplying yeast to another brewery was also a token of comradry or at least

collegiality knowing that small brewers did not have the installation nor the

knowledge of treatment of yeast. There is also a kind of pride in

delivering yeast to others. Because if a brewer does not like the beer he will not be

interested in using the yeast.

Americans will say: The ultimate honor to a beer is to copy it! {and this

may be a reason, too, to keep the yeast for themselves!}

The brewery Rodenbach wrote a letter in November 1999 saying that the yeast

supply would stop on December 1, 1999. Knowing this was a weekend, this was

short. We had heard rumours in that sense so we had some stock of yeast. By

the time Palm took over Rodenbach I had such a feeling that the yeast supply

would not be eternal, but it seems that Palm has nothing to do with it. If

Rodenbach had been taken over by Heineken, for instance, would the yeast supply

not have been ceased? Whatever , we were already happy to have had the

opportunity of using their yeast for over 20 years and we therefore respected

their decision.

{Some American beerlovers were very angry and worte e-mails to Palm to

"force" them to continue their yeast supply - but here in Europe , things don't

work that way!}

As I had done tests with oerbier wort with other strains, which were not

convincing, I thought the best thing would be to reuse the yeast. For a single

strain, that would be a good method, but with that complexity of the

Rodenbach yeast soon some unexpected things happened:

- The alcohol by volume of Oerbier increased from 7.5 % to 10.5%. For Stille

Nacht , the density of which is even higher, it increased from 8% to about


- With problems of refermentation as a result!

- What also changed was the balance of acidity. The bacteria had

disappeared. So we got a mutated strong pure yeast, and no more bacteria.

There were other strange things happening as well. The refermentation of a

batch of Stille Nacht seemed NOT to come to an end and the last three pallets

of that beer had bursting bottles all over. Even in December with the colder

temperature! As I could not longer stand the exploding bottles there was

high time to find a solution!

We poured the beer into wine barrels and bottled them as Stille Nacht

Reserva 2000 after 12 months. The attenuation dropped to 1000 , even lower and the

taste was really something exceptional. The empty barrels were then filled

with Oerbier so we had Oerbier Special Reserva one year later. With the Reserva

series we had so much time that sometimes it matured for over two years in

the barrels, thinking that it could only get better by the passing of time.

This maybe or may not be so. Up to now, though, we have not had one bad bottle

of Reserva.

Since 2000 we were looking up in beer books how the fermentation of old

fashioned beers really went on, with the special strains such as Lactobacillus,

Pediococcus, Brettanomyces and others. We had to know what they 'liked", what

they did not "like", how they grew and what their behavior was when exposed

to yeast. And that's exactly what is happening in wine.

So we went through wine books and literature of Lactis bacteria as well as

the history of English and Belgian beers in the 19th century. Together with a

guy {probably sent from heaven!} wo works in microbiology of lactic bacteria

used in bread, we installed a fermentor to grow yeast, yeast that we had

cultured from kegs of De Dolle Stille Nacht ..that were returned from Finland.

Some were not empty and the beer was delicious < we received 8 of

those kegs in the USA in 2003> The kegs were very old , thus having the "old

" balance of yeast and bacteria. To us this could not have been more

fortuituous. We then started to reculture this yeast.

The taste of Oerbier had changed. It was dryer, heavier and the balance of

caramel malt was disturbed due to the disappearing of the maltery HUYS. So we

adjusted that - and for the acid taste we went back to a tradition of old

Flemish beers , which is to let beers getting sour with a controlled

fermentation with lactic acid bacteria.

The first four brews are already sold and marked for the USA by a white cap

with "SPECBREW2005" on it. The first two pallets are less sour than the the

second shipment to the USA marked "SPECBREW02". This is due to a larger

amount of "sour" beer. We think the more soure beer should be our definite

version, though some variations may occur.

What are the reactions of our customers? They all taste the difference, most

of them like the sour taste over the sweet one. {My mother-in law prefers it

sweeet! She says that there will be some time needed to get accustomed to

it}. Whatever, we must use the liberty of being small and follow our own taste

of what beer should be.

The alcohol by volume s now 9% which is still 1.5% stronger than the "old"

oerbier. It is dryer, too, due to the stronger yeast. The acidity should be

about the same.

In terms of aging, no problems are foreseen.

If you have other questions , the answer lies in your glass!


Kris Herteleer

De Dolle Brouwers

Look for the SPECBREW2005 on the shelves sometimes soon; it is now in, and

is being distributed around Chicago. 10 cases.

SPECBREW02 will be available shortly.

And, honest, the Dulle Teve Special Reserva (calvados barrel aged) and

Oerbier Special Reserva (Bordeaux barrel aged) should be available in early

July!!! They are on the boat right now, and almost in port.

David R. Frost

More news of Oerbier changes as posted by B United and Kris at De Dolle Bro - Jeff "TruthBrew", 06/16/05 09:43:38 AM
        Wait a second... - SteveG, 06/16/05 10:13:08 AM
                Re: Wait a second... - Loren, 06/16/05 10:34:26 AM
                        Re: Wait a second... - SteveG, 06/16/05 11:05:50 AM
                                Re: Wait a second... - Jim Busch, 06/16/05 01:52:18 PM
                                        What??? - SteveG, 06/16/05 03:05:46 PM
                                                Yes - Joris P., 06/16/05 03:16:06 PM
                                                Re: What??? - Jim Busch, 06/16/05 03:15:54 PM
                                                        Wait Jim, does this math work? - SteveG, 06/17/05 09:33:49 AM
                                                                Re: Wait Jim, does this math work? - Jim Busch, 06/17/05 09:48:26 AM
                                                                        OK, I guess its pretty close - SteveG, 06/17/05 11:07:41 AM
                                                                                Re: OK, I guess its pretty close - Jim Busch, 06/17/05 02:01:31 PM
                                                                                        Re: OK, I guess its pretty close - Joris P., 06/17/05 03:32:02 PM
                                                        That is really staggering - SteveG, 06/17/05 09:21:33 AM
                                                                Re: That is really staggering - Joris P., 06/17/05 09:30:53 AM
                                                                        Re: That is really staggering - SteveG, 06/17/05 09:39:45 AM
                                                        So this would explain the overbearing sweetness? - Loren, 06/17/05 07:08:00 AM
                                                                Possibly not for you - SteveG, 06/18/05 07:24:12 AM
                                Re: Wait a second... - Mark A, 06/16/05 01:46:17 PM
                                        Re: Wait a second... - Jim Busch, 06/16/05 03:19:31 PM
                                        Re: Wait a second... - SteveG, 06/16/05 03:01:17 PM
                                                Re: Wait a second... - Mark A, 06/17/05 02:25:52 PM
                                                        Re: Wait a second... - Joris P., 06/17/05 03:35:41 PM
                                Re: Wait a second... - Loren, 06/16/05 11:23:23 AM
                                        Re: Wait a second... - MarcusM, 06/19/05 03:01:27 AM
                                                Thanks! * - Loren, 06/20/05 11:08:11 AM

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