It’s been a while since I posted. Things have been very busy at Crooked Run, preparing for World Beer Cup, really refining our process, and getting everything ready for the first beer we are going to distribute. Shadow of Truth is a black tripel, a big Belgian beer that is a simple twist on a traditional style. The result, however, is quite complex.
I remember when black IPA’s were getting real popular, there was a lot of hate going on. I tended to agree with people who thought they were a bit gimmicky; I liked them, but I questioned whether adding debittered black malt to a beer had really created a new style. After all, couldn’t you do that to many different kinds of beer?
The answer is yes. I actually started doing it because of how much I liked my dark saison. I’ve put a black IPA, black ESB, and Shadow of Truth, the black tripel, all on tap at different points, with great feedback. Why have these beers turned out so well?
First, you only want to use debittered black malt. Carafa special will add a smooth coffee flavor which stops short of roasty. Roasty flavors from roasted barley or black patent are going to drastically alter the flavor profile, and are also pretty much impossible to balance with hops. This is the downfall of many a black IPA. Use enough to get the SRM value you are shooting for. 5% is a good number.
Debittered black malt is a great flavor by itself, but Vienna malt backs it up. By using 20-40% Vienna malt, you can give the beer a maltier profile without adding caramel sweetness and keeping it nice and dry. Exceptions are if you are using Maris Otter as a base malt, which has a toasty sweet flavor that will work perfectly by itself.
Shadow of Truth black Belgian tripel hits bars in the DMV area next week. This is a really cool beer that I’d describe as like a quad minus some of the sweetness. The result is something pretty unique. There are plenty of other styles that I think would do well getting the black treatment, too. I think a black pale ale is next on the list!