This beer was my entry into the second annual Farmers Cabinet Iron Brewer competition scheduled for October 14th. Unfortunately due to reasons that were never really explained the competition was canceled this year. I am not the biggest fan of homebrewing competitions in general but based upon my amazing experience at last years event, and the unique contest format that promotes creativity and experimentation I was deeply disappointed with the events cancellation.
With that being said the main thing that I took away from the first Iron Brewer competition was the beers that made it the farthest were the beers that highlighted the secret ingredient with the most prominence yet balance of background flavors. This knowledge influenced my approach to my entry as I had no prior experience brewing with tamarind nor had I ever tasted it. After sampling a few of the fruits and doing some preliminary research I decided on a Belgian style beer as the tamarind reminded me of raisins and dates, both of which are commonly used in darker Belgian style beers.
I knew that the beer would have to be somewhat darker in color to support the addition of the dark brown tamarind fruit. I eventually settled on a grain bill made up of Pilsner and Abbey base malts at a ratio of roughly 3:1, and a blend of specialty malts. The Belgian specialty malts provided the color, malt backbone and residual sweetness to support the tamarind addition. Knowing that I wanted the Tamarind to really shine I decided to use both boxes and brew a 5.5 gallon batch. After cleaning the seeds out of the tamarind I was left with roughly 8 oz or half of the total weight of the two boxes.
After a 25 day primary fermentation I bottled the Belgian Table Ale with Tamarind at 2.2 vol CO2. The tasting notes below are from October 16th, after just over a month conditioning in the bottle.
Appearance: Pours a clear brown, when held to the light appears dark copper to red. An initial burst of thin, bubbly, white head rapidly radiates from the center, leaving a thin white ring clinging to the edge of the glass.
Smell: Tamarind dominates the smell.
Taste: As the beer hits the tongue it begins sweet, but a mild level of bitterness quickly overtakes as the dominant flavor profile. The beer finishes with a a strong residual tamarind flavor that lasts for several seconds after the last sip. The hop aromatics are virtually non-existent as the tamarind really dominates the flavor profile.
Mouthfeel: Lightly carbonated, thin yet moderately sweet.
Drinkability & Notes: I think this beer was a success as it met my goal of highlighting the tamarind in the beer. If I were to brew this beer again I would mash higher in hopes of getting a chewier, sweeter beer, that would better balance the strong flavors of the tamarind . I think this beer could also benefit from a light dry hop to offset the strong tamarind taste that lingers on the palate long after the last sip. A spicier hop such as Styrian Goldings or Tettnanger would be a good candidate, as it would complement the flavor profiles of the Tamarind well. Overall I really enjoyed brewing this beer and drinking it as well. In addition to using an ingredient I have never worked with before I was also able to brew a highly flavorful low abv. beer another goal of mine.