Stille Nacht -- recipe change?

Reads 2295 • Replies 10 • Started Saturday, January 22, 2011 7:19:13 PM CT

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JAXSON
beers 612 º places 4 º 19:19 Sat 1/22/2011

From about 2004 - 2007 Stille Nacht was probably, overall my favorite beer. Rich, caramel, lots of green apples, pleasantly tart. I used to buy it by the case, just freakin loved it. I’ve had a smattering of bottles from 2008-2010, fresh and lightly aged, and have been pretty much consistently let down. It seems that the tart green apple quality is completely gone now, it’s more buttery, reminds me more of Struise Tsjeeses now, probably not even quite as good in terms of fresh bottles.

I know they changed their yeast 5-10 years ago, but I still enjoyed it immensely after that time until recent batches. What’s up with the recent bottles? Have they changed the recipe, or yeast again?

 
ryan
beers 3185 º places 13 º 22:39 Sat 1/22/2011

It’s the yeast. They were using Rodenbach’s yeast until Palm shut that off. Then they were just reusing the yeast. Until it eventually because too f’ed up to continue. So, they had to switch yeasts. They tried out some different strains sometime around 2007 (which is why some of Oerbiers and SNs had weird shit on the cap like "Spec Brew" and "XXXX").

So, previously the SN had some brett/bacteria in it. Now, I believe it’s fermented with a typical belgian yeast, no bugs.

 
Danko
03:59 Sun 1/23/2011

This is all first hand information from brew master Kris Herteleer, I spend time with the Herteleer family every summer and sometimes we talk about beer for an entire day, so I’ve gotten to pick up a lot of information over the years for which I am greatly humbled.

Dolle stopped getting fresh Rodenbach yeast around 1999. Kris told me he had a guy at the University inoculate and cultivate the Rodenbach strain, but due to this he lost the acetic property that came with the yeast (i.e. the batch from Rodenbach also had lactic acid, not brettanomyces for what it’s worth).

IIRC, it took until after 2003 for Kris to reintroduce a lactic acetic component to his yeast culture. Between 2000-2004 or so, the beers were sweeter and less acidic/tart/low in pH. Orbier was less of a vlaams oud bruin during this period.

Other than that, the brewery is old and there are plenty of steps in the process where the beer is being very exposed to external particles etc. Due to this, every year will make for a bit of a different beer.

The last year and a half, Kris told me he has been starting to "keep it simple" when brewing. I find that his beers are getting a lot cleaner, less fusels/higher alcohols (although Stille Nacht still has a ton of them, on purpose). Dulle Teve has less isoamyl acetate, as another example. Arabier is also better than ever, although the nose is incredibly rich on yeast and isoamyl.

The only beers containing brettanomyces are the Reserva ones, with the wild yeast residing in the wooden wine barrels and being active for 12-18 months during secondary fermentation. Kris fills up the barrels continuously with fresh beer, in order to prevent oxidation but as a result he should be getting less lactobacillus as well. (Estimated loss during fortification is about 15%)

Stille Nacht needs time, as a rule. 2009 seems to turn out to be a lot better than 2008, but now 2008 is already turning into a great thing in comparison.

Cheers,

Danko

Ps. I’m drinking a very special reserva from Dolle together with Kris on my avatar picture, btw. :)

 
tdtm82
beers 1704 º places 134 º 11:35 Sun 1/23/2011

Originally posted by Danko
This is all first hand information from brew master Kris Herteleer, I spend time with the Herteleer family every summer and sometimes we talk about beer for an entire day, so I’ve gotten to pick up a lot of information over the years for which I am greatly humbled.

Dolle stopped getting fresh Rodenbach yeast around 1999. Kris told me he had a guy at the University inoculate and cultivate the Rodenbach strain, but due to this he lost the acetic property that came with the yeast (i.e. the batch from Rodenbach also had lactic acid, not brettanomyces for what it’s worth).

IIRC, it took until after 2003 for Kris to reintroduce a lactic acetic component to his yeast culture. Between 2000-2004 or so, the beers were sweeter and less acidic/tart/low in pH. Orbier was less of a vlaams oud bruin during this period.

Other than that, the brewery is old and there are plenty of steps in the process where the beer is being very exposed to external particles etc. Due to this, every year will make for a bit of a different beer.

The last year and a half, Kris told me he has been starting to "keep it simple" when brewing. I find that his beers are getting a lot cleaner, less fusels/higher alcohols (although Stille Nacht still has a ton of them, on purpose). Dulle Teve has less isoamyl acetate, as another example. Arabier is also better than ever, although the nose is incredibly rich on yeast and isoamyl.

The only beers containing brettanomyces are the Reserva ones, with the wild yeast residing in the wooden wine barrels and being active for 12-18 months during secondary fermentation. Kris fills up the barrels continuously with fresh beer, in order to prevent oxidation but as a result he should be getting less lactobacillus as well. (Estimated loss during fortification is about 15%)

Stille Nacht needs time, as a rule. 2009 seems to turn out to be a lot better than 2008, but now 2008 is already turning into a great thing in comparison.

Cheers,

Danko

Ps. I’m drinking a very special reserva from Dolle together with Kris on my avatar picture, btw. :)


Top feedback, Danko. I had mad bitch last night and it was stunning. Happy to report that it didn’t gush and had minimal sediment so definitely improving. Cheers.

 
gunhaver
beers 1030 º places 13 º 13:30 Sun 1/23/2011

Originally posted by Danko
This is all first hand information from brew master Kris Herteleer, I spend time with the Herteleer family every summer and sometimes we talk about beer for an entire day, so I’ve gotten to pick up a lot of information over the years for which I am greatly humbled.

Dolle stopped getting fresh Rodenbach yeast around 1999. Kris told me he had a guy at the University inoculate and cultivate the Rodenbach strain, but due to this he lost the acetic property that came with the yeast (i.e. the batch from Rodenbach also had lactic acid, not brettanomyces for what it’s worth).

IIRC, it took until after 2003 for Kris to reintroduce a lactic acetic component to his yeast culture. Between 2000-2004 or so, the beers were sweeter and less acidic/tart/low in pH. Orbier was less of a vlaams oud bruin during this period.

Other than that, the brewery is old and there are plenty of steps in the process where the beer is being very exposed to external particles etc. Due to this, every year will make for a bit of a different beer.

The last year and a half, Kris told me he has been starting to "keep it simple" when brewing. I find that his beers are getting a lot cleaner, less fusels/higher alcohols (although Stille Nacht still has a ton of them, on purpose). Dulle Teve has less isoamyl acetate, as another example. Arabier is also better than ever, although the nose is incredibly rich on yeast and isoamyl.

The only beers containing brettanomyces are the Reserva ones, with the wild yeast residing in the wooden wine barrels and being active for 12-18 months during secondary fermentation. Kris fills up the barrels continuously with fresh beer, in order to prevent oxidation but as a result he should be getting less lactobacillus as well. (Estimated loss during fortification is about 15%)

Stille Nacht needs time, as a rule. 2009 seems to turn out to be a lot better than 2008, but now 2008 is already turning into a great thing in comparison.

Cheers,

Danko

Ps. I’m drinking a very special reserva from Dolle together with Kris on my avatar picture, btw. :)


this post owns. what exactly is this "very special" reserva?

 
JAXSON
beers 612 º places 4 º 13:31 Sun 1/23/2011

Danko - thanks for the knowledge, I figured you would be the person on here with the most to share! One of the more interesting tidbits there is that the beers are getting "cleaner" every year. I can kind of see that with Stille Nacht and Dulle Teve, unfortunately in the last couple of years Stille Nacht has suffered from that, I think. The 2009 bottle I had yesterday was quite buttery and fruity, but without the wonderful apple tartness, caramel, and spice that my favorite batches have in abundance. I agree it was "cleaner", unfortunately kind of boring.

Which Reserva batch are you drinking there, the unreleased 2010 SN Reserva?

 
JAXSON
beers 612 º places 4 º 13:32 Sun 1/23/2011

Originally posted by ryan
It’s the yeast. They were using Rodenbach’s yeast until Palm shut that off. Then they were just reusing the yeast. Until it eventually because too f’ed up to continue. So, they had to switch yeasts. They tried out some different strains sometime around 2007 (which is why some of Oerbiers and SNs had weird shit on the cap like "Spec Brew" and "XXXX").

So, previously the SN had some brett/bacteria in it. Now, I believe it’s fermented with a typical belgian yeast, no bugs.


My absolute favorite batch of Stille Nacht said "Spec Bew 2005" on the cap. Not the Reserva from that year, but one of the "regular" batches.

 
jedwards
beers 10 º 14:23 Sun 1/23/2011

My absolute favorite batch of Stille Nacht said "Spec Bew 2005" on the cap. Not the Reserva from that year, but one of the "regular" batches.


Some more details on that batch are available here: http://www.thebarn.com/pipermail/mba/2005-June/003247.html

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.


I try to keep a fair amount of De Dolle info (though not nearly as direct as Danko’s) here: http://jonahedwards.com/beer/dolle/

I did a 2006-2010 Stille Nacht vertical quite recently and we agreed that the earlier batches had a more tart/vinous component than the 2008-present, though we attributed that to age. I have some more notes someplace on the recent batches that I need to get online as well.

 
Danko
03:49 Sun 1/30/2011

Thanks for the positive feedback, guys, I appreciate it!

I should probably not talk about what’s in that glass... but imagine a reserva laying on Chateau Neuf Du Pape-barrels.... Don’t expect it to qualify for Ratebeer ticking, though.

Speaking of Stille Nacht vintages, last summer when visiting Kris we ended up trying the brand new (not yet bottled) regular Stille Nacht against a bottle from 1999 (Rodenbach yeast), and then we had a bottle from 1985. The older ones are ridiculously solid in terms of aging and void of oxidation. They are also less strong, with a leaner body.

The prototype that later became Stille Nacht, brewed in 1980 (days prior to 1981, one year after Dolle had started out) had no head when new. Five years ago, it had lots of head and foam. Now it’s going downhill in that regard, but the taste is still there. It’s less complex, but giving you that sultan raisin thing without being sweet.

Cheers,

Danko

 
Bilk
beers 16 º places 3 º 12:57 Sun 1/30/2011

Just picked up my case of 2010. Been laying away a case a year for a couple of years. This beer doesn’t begin to come into it’s own for at least a couple of years, right around when there are 1/2" of floaties on the bottom of the bottle.

 
DenverLogan
beers 1676 º places 67 º 20:28 Mon 1/31/2011

I shouldn’t even say it...but Eric at the Bull & Bush (Denver) still has a keg of the 99 with Rodenbach yeast...he’s waiting for a special occasion or fund raiser to break it out...gonna be tasty!