March 29, 2017

Meerts

Meerts is a nearly forgotten style underneath the lambic umbrella category.  Meerts, meaning March, is the low alcohol (2-4%) "table" or "field" beer traditionally made from the second runnings of lambic's turbid mash. I refer to it as Lambic's baby brother. Recently it has been resurrected in Belgium by Boon (who supplies Tilquin's) and Cantillon, though there is very little information as to how exactly these breweries are producing their Meerts today.

Instead of trying to write a detailed description of Meerts production, I'm going to direct you to read Hors Cat├ęgorie's write up.  As far as I've found, it is the most complete description of Meerts and was the primary resource I used in trying to recreate this beer.

In this article, the 1800's brewery's poor efficiency rate is mentioned, which was echoed in other conversations I had. I was told that modern brew systems/grain are too efficient to create Meerts from lambic second runnings and that the brewers making it today have a dedicated brew day (again, I don't know the details of Boon and Cantillon's Meerts production).  Last year I tested this out, and on a 50 bbl brew house, I hoped to get 20-30 bbls of second runnings to create a Meerts the old way. About 4 bbls into the second runnings, our pH jumped and gravity dropped to near zero.  We were pulling water at this point and I called it off.

Still fascinated by what this style of beer could look like, this year we dedicated a brew day to Meerts, and in February filled 2 foeders. I believe we are the first to make Meerts in the US. To make it, we essentially took our turbid mash recipe and scaled it down to target 4%, and slashed the amount of hops since Meerts traditionally received the post boil spent hops from lambic.

Sample of Meerts from the foeder.
And wow am I happy with this beer!  At 4% abv, it is refreshing and clean, lightly tart lemon citrus with some rustic earthiness.  I'm very excited to have a beer that I can put out at a lower price point and with more frequency.  Cheers!
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