The more I taste different Flanders Reds and appreciate their complexities, the more rapidly the style takes on legendary palate status for me. I love IPAs and Strong Ales, too. They have the sort of knock you down flavors that get your attention and push your limits, and that can be a good thing sometimes. But Flanders Red challenges your senses in a much more subtle and possibly more rewarding way. The craft of brewing them is far more complicated than almost any other beer, with the mastery of challenging ingredients, long-term aging, and blending all essential. I'm far from understanding these beers completely.
Crumple Cars blocking access to The Ranch, 1961 (photo: Stevens)
I made Crumple Car Flanders Red, my second attempt at the style, yesterday, and named it after one of my favorite surf songs. Elitist land owners at the Bixby and Hollister ranches north of Santa Barbara, CA used to leave old cars on the beach so that surfers couldn't drive up the coast to ride some of the more pristine and unspoiled waves in the industrialized world. Denny Aaberg wrote "Crumple Car" (mp3 below) with those barriers to access in mind. The ranches still occupy 16+ miles of coastline that the general public can't realistically access and enjoy.
The recipe is the result of some research into different approaches to Flanders Red ales and a continued commitment to my preference for simple grain bills. Aged Perle hops were used for bittering only. I boiled for 75 minutes at a slightly lower intensity to help bring out the red color. Wyeast's Roselare Yeast Blend was pitched this morning.
16 hours after pitching the Roselare Yeast Blend.
This approach was intentionally very different than Farmer's Daughter Flanders Red. When Lewy and I made that first sour, we were setting sail in uncharted waters (at least for us). We did the intuitive thing by making fourteen gallons and splitting it four different ways (2 x 5 gallons and 4 x 1 gallons), with different yeast combinations and dregs added. That approach presented an opportunity to see how the most important ingredient in beer (yeast) makes its presence felt. Now that he's made Farmer's Bitch and I've brewed Crumple Car, there will be even more variety available when blending takes place.