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Little Forker Release: Fire & Freckles - 3.2% Ginger, Smoke & Milk Sugar Belgian Table Beer

Fire & Freckles was a bit of a twist on the Belgian Table Beer style, and came about as a bit of a happy accident.

Belgian Table Beers are traditionally quite low in strength - often 1-2% - and imbued characteristic Belgian yeast notes: fruity esters, clove-like phenols and other such aromatics.

This Ginger, Smoke & Milk Sugar Belgian Table Beer is 3.2% and (here's where the happy accident takes place) fermented with four different yeast strains. The original yeast added to the brew was a blend of Belgian Trappist High Gravity yeast and Bavarian Wheat Blend, a combination of German Wheat Beer yeasts and an Ale yeast.

"Unfortunately, this yeast had previously fermented Three Times the Man, a big 11% Manuka DubbelWeizenBock, exhausting the yeast!" says Kelly.

"Usually I'd check the yeast under a microscope for healthiness, but at Fork, we have no such luxury. I thought the beer wouldn't ferment, however, I did have an actively fermenting blend of Saison yeast and Brettanomyces bruxellensis, which I added to the brew.

"So in theory, five different yeast strains made their way into Fire & Freckles - giving the beer its freckles."

The mixed culture fermentations are a small nod to those that would've occurred in Table Beers of the past, albeit accidentally!

The advantage of the Three Times the Man yeast addition in Fire & Freckles is the tiniest hint of phenolic smokiness, which Kelly attributes to the smoked Manuka malt used in the former.

"It brings to mind a wood-burning stove, perhaps again, a hint of history has accidentally made its way into this brew, which would have once been made in kitchens for family consumption," he says. 

The final step in the brew was the blending. A large root of ginger was finely grated and a lactose (milk sugar), water and ginger infusion was made and steeped for 48 hours whilst occasionally bubbled with carbon dioxide to maximise the ginger character from said infusion. This was then back-blended into the Table Beer to give a wonderful hint of ginger that, due to its freshness, is reminiscent of freshly-sliced lemongrass.

And, voila - the smoke and ginger lends fire to the freckles!

Fire & Freckles comes together as a complex brew. A tiny hint of lactose-sweetness, the warmth and zesty appeal of fresh ginger root, the complex esters from the combination of yeast varieties and finally the smallest wisp of smoke from the distant memory of that smoked Manuka malt.

Kel says there's only 65 litres of this little guy, but if it goes well, perhaps a bigger batch is in order!

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