Cheers to Belgian Beers 2010

All right ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. The pole positions have been decided and the yeast selected, and now it's time to start brewing! Cheers to Belgian Beers is just a few months away.

(Backgrounder: Cheers to Belgian Beers is a fun, friendly little competition that Portland breweries started three years ago wherein they each brew a beer from the same strain of yeast. They convene for a one-day fest and people vote on their favorite beer, proceeds going to charity. The winner gets to host the event the following year and select that year's yeast strain as well as the benefiting charity. To add a little diversity to the event, last year the breweries held a dart-toss to decide which one of four general quadrants they'd be brewing to: low-alcohol light beer, high-alcohol light beer, low-alcohol dark beer, high-alcohol dark beer. And also in 2009, it was expanded beyond Portland to include all Oregon Brewers Guild members.)

Hopworks won last year and earned the right to host on May first when the fest happens this year. Earning my eternal gratitude, they have selected a saison yeast. The last couple years have featured finicky yeasts that don't attenuate well (or quickly, or something). This year's strain should be quite versatile, though, and will also attenuate enough so that we'll see some drier beers. The description:
Wyeast 3726 (Farmhouse Ale)
This strain produces complex esters balanced with earthy/spicy notes. Slightly tart and dry with a peppery finish. A perfect strain for farmhouse ales and saisons.

Attenuation: 74-79%
Alc. Tolerance: 12%
Flocculation: variable
Temperature Range: 70-95°F (21-35°C)
Although the strain is tolerant of high temperatures, it's not Dupont's strain, and brewers won't have to go for the extreme heat. Well, not exactly Dupont's. Rather, this is apparently Brasserie Blaugies' strain, but they originally used Dupont's. So make of that what you will. The good news is that saison strains are versatile and should be able to make everything from very small beers (grisette, anyone?) to huge bruisers with relative ease.

Last night, breweries tossed darts to find out which "quadrant" they'd be brewing, and that list is at the OBG website. Go have a look to see what your favorite brewery is whipping up. Oh, and homebrewers, take note: you can also compete in a homebrew competition with the same yeast. The details are also available at the OBG website (scroll down).