Thursday, 31 July 2014

Brew Day: Old World’s Mantra

What is Yvan de Baets’ favourite kind of beer?  The saisons he writes about in Farmhouse Ales?  The lambics brewed by his neighbours in Brussels?  According to For the Love of Hops, it’s English bitter!

“Yvan de Baets eschews the words “beer style”, but ask him the question most brewers duck, what his favourite is, and he’s quick to answer.  He loves bracing, bitter beers from Great Britain, not exactly surprising given how much he appreciates bitterness itself, a quality apparent in Brasserie de la Senne beers.”

I was pretty chuffed to read that, and of course I had to brew the recipe that accompanied it.  Earlier in the book you can find Yvan waxing philosophical about bitterness, connecting human appreciation for it to the emergence of culture, and ending with a rousing encomium to modern bitter beers:

“I see the bitter beers we make as liquid communication that talks to the people’s intelligence, and delivers them from the ‘manipulations by the stomach’ the agro-food industry is using.  By promoting bitter beers, something that had almost been lost forever some decades ago, craft brewers help the human culture of taste to be reborn and to get stronger.  They show respect not only for themselves, but also for the people who drink their delightful beers.  And they do all this by making something that is a never-ending source of pleasure for their customers.  Bitter is definitely better.”

IMG_1898The recipe at the back of the book is called “Old World’s Mantra”, and is a sort of celebration of the old world hop varieties it employs.  I brewed it directly after the Keeping Porter on Sunday (a long day!), and my notes are pretty short.  I stuck to the recipe in the book as far as possible, but I was a little short of Munich malt, so I had to sub in a small portion of Vienna for some of it (I’ve copied the recipe as it is in the book below).  I also didn’t have time to do the infusion mash schedule Yvan provides, but if I brew this again (and I’m sure I will) I’ll certainly follow it.  The other modification of note was that I added gypsum to get my sulfate levels up to around 250ppm.  This is part of an on-going investigation into how water modifications affect my bitter beers.  I’ll write a post about what I’m learning in a few weeks.

Finally, Yvan specifies a neutral, highly attenuative, flocculent yeast.  The listed final gravity is 1.012 (74.25% apparent attenuation), so I think he must mean attenuative for an English strain.  I went with WY1469, as its what I’ve been using recently.  I’ll probably use WY1028 next time I brew this for comparison.


Measured O.G. 1.048
Measured F.G.
Mash: 151°F
82% Pilsner
12.0% Munich
6% Medium Crystal      
Challenger 60min 44.3 IBUs (25g@ 8.9%)
Styrian Goldings 10 min 1.4 IBUs (20g@ 1.8%)
Styrian Goldings Whirlpool 1.4 IBUs (15g@ 1.8%)
Bramling Cross Whirlpool 4.7 IBUs (15g@ 6.0%)


  1. Great read! I'm always very interested in anything that Yvan has to say. Cheers!

    1. Me too, and I love his beers. Someone told me recently that we wouldn't be getting anything new from Brasserie De La Senne in Chicago for a while because Shelton Brothers had pulled out of the city. Pretty disappointing---all the bottles of Taras Boulba I can find are from the same batch, over a year old at this point

  2. Yes, the Shelton spat has been a bummer. Hopefully it will be resolved in the near future. Missing fresh De La Senne as well as Prairie, Fantôme, Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, and so many others!