Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn Brewery is making a GABS brew that amps up the Belgian witbier style
What beer are you making for GABS? Does it have a name yet?
It’s called Brooklyn Grand Cru, and it’s essentially an intensified version of the Belgian witbier style.
Where did the inspiration come from?
Belgian witbier is the original inspiration, so this beer is made from about 40% raw wheat and 60% barley malt. This gives it lightness on the palate and a zing of acidity. Then we’ve spiced the wort with bitter orange peel, sweet orange peel, lemon peel, chamomile flowers and Indian coriander. The spices aren’t overwhelming, but make a really nice compliment to the core flavors and aromatics of the beer.
How much effort goes into designing a beer for GABS?
This is a beer that most of our brewing team has never had or even heard of, but we did brew a version of this beer several years ago, as part of our Brewmaster’s Reserve special draught series. What I wanted to do here was to send a beer that was pretty different from what you might usually see in the Australian beer scene. We love our big IPAs here in the States, but we brew plenty of other things too!
Does GABS give you the chance to go a bit crazy and try something you might not normally brew?
Yes, it does, though this time it gave me a chance to revive an old favourite that not many people here have had, and no one in Australia has tasted. Many of our specialty beers have Belgian inspirations, but I’m not sure how many people in Australia have tasted them.
Does the spectapular bring out a competitive streak?
No, most of my competitive feelings are internal – I’m trying to brew better, more interesting beers than we’ve ever brewed before. If you’ve read my books, The Brewmaster’s Table and The Oxford Companion to Beer, you’ll see that the Brooklyn Brewery style is inclusive and collaborative. We invented collaborative brewing, so it would be pretty silly to start feeling competitive all of a sudden!
Explanation for the unaware: GABS is Great Australasian Beer Spectapular, a beer festival in Melbourne, Australia, from May 24-26 this year where brewers make a beer they’ve never made before and bring it along so the punters can try it. Cool, huh?