Beerpagne: An adventure in homebrewing

In one of our ongoing homebrewing threads I mentioned I had a wild idea to try and I would post details in the future. Well, that time has come.

Remember that old beer slogan, “The champagne of beers”? Years ago I found myself wondering what would the REAL champagne of beers taste like? I imagined it as a Standard American lager, but at champgagne strength. Or, if you prefer, a light-colored and bodied sparkling barley wine.

So I finally decided to attempt it. My homebrewing career has been pretty eclectic, I have never gotten into the full mash thing but I really enjoy using unusual ingredients like honey, molasses and maple syrup as well as different types of fruit and stuff, and also diferent yeast strains.

So here, then, is the extract recipe for Beerpagne that I started last night:

10 lbs Munton’s Extra Light unhopped malt extract
2 lbs rice syrup solids
3 oz. Cascade hops (boiling)
Boiled for 90 minutes in 4+ gallons of water,
An additional 1.5 oz. Cascade for 15 more minutes

Cooled to about 110 F, moved to glass fermenter

Brought up to 5 gallons and added 10g Red Star Pasteur champagne yeast (I often do a starter but for the sake of convenience I just pitched two packets of dried yeast this time.)


Notes: Fermentation was going full blast 9 hours later. At the end of the boil wort tasted rather bitter (I generally like bitter beers, and since this one is probably going to age awhile I wanted the hops character to hold up). Looks like it might end up darker than I would ideally hope but I have been foolded before.

I will rack it to a glass secondary fermenter when the time comes then move it to the basement for several months. I had considered doing a two-stage fermentation, first with an American lager yeast and then adding the champagne yeast at the end but decided to keep it simple this time. (I finally have a second refrigerator available though so I can lager anytime I want).

I would have gone with your second instinct, but this ought to be interesting anyway. :smiley:

Not to deter you from your experiment as it sounds kinda interesting, but the real champagne of beers probably tastes something like Bière de Champagne :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m not an expert on French to English translation but wouldn’t that technically be “beer of champagne”? :wink:
silenus, which second instinct? The lager fermentation followed by the champagne yeast? I was afraid it would be a waste of time, I didn’t think there would be any detectable remnants of the lager fermentation after the 2nd fermentation was done.

The champagne yeast is going to give you some esters you might not like. It’s a fairly clean yeast, but the lager fermentaion first would have nailed down the lager profile, then the champagne yeast could have boosted the alcohol. I’ve done this before with some success, although usually with ales. But my Hellesbock got rave reviews, so it works with lagers too.

My frist batch of Cider turns out to be quite a bit like a Cidery Champagne… sort of.

Here’s what I did:

5 gallons store brad apple juice (no preservatives)
1 package Wyeast Ale Yeast
1 lb of light brown sugar, dissolved into a couple of cups of water.

I pitched all that into my carboy.

2 months I racked to another carboy, and added another lb of light brown sugar.

2 months later I again racked into another carboy and added one last lb of sugar.
See my problem? WAAAAY to much sugar.

When I bottled, I added a can of concentrate in an attempt to both carbonate in the bottle and to add some apple flavor back.

It is EXCEPTIONALLY carbonated, and foams up like champagne when I open a bottle, if I don’t cool it first. I think I came >.< this close to having bottle bombs.

As for taste, it tastes not great. Very obvious alcohol taste, with almost no apple taste to speak of. When I have a bottle, I add a tablespoon of sugar, and that seems to help.

But yes, very very dry and exceedingly fizzy. I htink I made champagne. HEhehe

This used to be a hugely popular drink in the old East Germany…you would order “Herrengedeck” and got a beer with a small bottle of Sekt (cheap champagne) and mix it about 50/50 in the glass. It took several beers to get through the bottle of Sekt, but nobody complained. I don’t believe they ever went to the extreme and actually brewed it that way though.

Shoot. I should have started the thread BEFORE I brewed. Oh, well. Next time.

Maybe more sugar next time? :smiley:

Actually my second batch of cyser (mead made with apple juice) is in the bottles but I did that one with champagne yeast as well. It tastes pretty good but needs some agin.

Yes, with my vaugely apple flavored alcoholic beverage, I am finding it mellows with age. I’ve worked though about 10 of them since I bottled in February of this year… And I’ve only recently started actually drinking them. The first 5 or so was to open them, try it, make a face then pour it down the drain.

Why wouldn’t the Belgian Trappist ales be the champagne of beer? It’s strong and it’s fizzy and it’s made by monks. What’s not to love?

OK, so it’s been about 2 weeks. Signs of fermentation have greatly slowed and there is a big layer of sediment at the bottom of the carboy so I decided to rack it to another carboy. Specific gravity was about 1.040, which going by an online calculator I found ( works out to 7.93% ABW, 9.91% ABV.

I took a taste of the stuff and it isn’t bad. Surprisingly malty, and with noticeable hops bitterness. I detect a clove-like taste and aroma, not sure if that is silenus’ esters or something else.

This is going to be a perfectly fine, drinkable barley wine, although maybe not quite what I was gunning for. I think next time I might even up the adjuncts more to cut back on the malt aspect.

I drink these occasionally when the offie gets some in and i fancy a change. They’re generally quite nice and there is a distinctly champagne feel to them - they taste crisper and lighter than most lagers. The carbonation can be too much if you aren’t used to it though and can leave you bloated.

Luckily i generally drank Yeunglung when i lived in the States though so i’m used to overly fizzy beer. :smiley:

Beerpagne, the modern Champale?

I have a few ideas about making a drinkable, non-wino, Champale.

There is a variety of hops for New Zealand called Nelson Sauvin that is supposed to have a “winey” character, you might want to try those.

A 90 minute boil is going to cause a much deeper color than a 60 minute boil. Since you are using extract there isn’t really even a need to boil all of the extract for 60 minutes. I would recommend using dry malt extract above liquid. Add half of it at the beginning of the boil so that you get some utilization from the hops, then add the second half with maybe 15-20 minutes left in the boil.

The rice syrup solids were a good idea, you might want to increase the percentage of them in the grist.

I’d shoot for a low bitterness, maybe 10-12 IBUs, and try to get about half of them from your flavor addition. It will mean adding a lot more hops but the increased flavor punch might be worth it.

Check that math again. I get 4.63ABW, 5.79ABV. I’d also say that’s not close to done. A 1.040 FG is too high. It’d be an apparent attenuation on the order of 56%, which is low for ANY yeast, much less champagne yeast used on an extract beer.

A quick run through QBrew give nearly 70 IBUs, so it’ll be pretty bitter, and should finish out around 1.020 FG, and give the alcohol values you list above.

Sounds fun though, and I wish you had put some of the cascades in at the end for aroma/flavor. With a 90 minute boil, all you’re getting from those cascades is the bitter.
Tristan, is that the EdWort Apfelwine recipe from I made it using a very similar process, and WL775 English cider yeast, and it’s not too bad, very little apple flavor though. This year, I’m doing 10gal of real cider rather than 5 gal of real cider & 5 gal of market juice.

Oh, gross. I certainly would hope and expect that Lagomorph’s experiment wouldn’t be anything like Champale. ::shudder::

Oh, I don’t think its done fermenting yet. I just wanted to get it off the sediment. It won’t be going in the basement for a while.

I probably did mess up the math, it was way past my usual bedtime.

Thanks everyone for your input and suggestions.

Sadly, no. What I made is close to it, but doesn’t have any of the taste, as near as I can tell.

I’m going to try an experiment… I’m going to dump about 10 bottles of my almost beer-pagne into the carboy of my very flat stuff that I did’nt add ANY sugar too, and see if I end up with something drinkable. I’ve got to get something right soon, or my wife is going to stop letting me buy gallons and gallons of juice. Hehe

From all reports… don’t. Malt & apples are not a good combination. One suggestion for you though is to add a little sugar to a glass and pour off the cider onto it. A little more sweetness may bring out some of the apple. Or, I’ve had great success adding a bit of sweet dark rum to the glass and then pouring on the cider.

This year, I’m returning to my first attempt at cider, and using only real orchard pressed cider, rather than juice… it was so much better. (More expensive though)

On the subject of experiments… (the other brewers may cringe at this thought) My last bottling session was an all day affair, bottling 5gal each of a Magic Hat #9 clone, an Ipswich Ale clone, and hard lemonade. At the end of each batch, I did not have a full bottle full, so I just added the 1/3 bottle or so to one common bottle. Capped it and put it away. Roll forward 2 months, and we opened it, unsure what to expect (2/3 beer, 1/3 hard lemonade). It was probably one of the best things to come out of my brewery! Amazing stuff! I’m tempted on my next brewing day to make a batch on purpose. Use my standard pale ale recipe, and add a couple of cans of lemonade concentrate. Heresy? Perhaps, but it tasted good! Great even!