Behind the new Abbey: How we changed the malts


Behind the new Abbey: How we changed the malts

Earlier this month, we made a pretty big announcement: After almost 25 years, we revamped the recipes of our beloved Abbey and Trippel. Yep, it’s true, and the new versions taste pretty damn awesome, thanks in part to our brewers revisiting the malt bill of both beers.

“[Abbey and Trippel] are a very old recipes, so we’re changing with the times,” says New Belgium pilot brewer Ross Koenigs. “We found availability of malts that we would have dreamed about getting back in 1991 because they only made like 100 bags back then. With the growth of craft, the maltsters have found a market, and it’s a lot easier to get our hands on that stuff.”

Think about it: 1991 was a long time ago. Michael Bolton’s “When a Man Loves a Woman,” was a chart topper, “Terminator 2” was at the box office, and that show “Coach” was in its fourth season. You remember “Coach,” right?

The availability of malt varieties from maltsters small and large has increased with the craft beer boom, and since we went a near quarter-century without incorporating that evolution into Abbey and Trippel, we thought it was time to finally invite a few more malt varieties into the mix. A lot of this is possible in part because of the evolution of technology in the malting business.

“The big things that have changed in malting is kind of two-fold: efficiency and also the ability to have more data input so you can look much more closely at the grain’s moisture content,” says Koenigs. Better technology allows those in the malting business more precise methods when testing barley coming in from the field; deciding how long you can leave barley dormant; and measuring protein levels of the grains. The end result is often higher-quality and more consistent malt on the market. Of course, there’s also the rise of specialty malt varieties, like the increments of caramel malts and dark malts, which allow brewers to layer more complex flavors into the malt base.

While all of this factored into redesigning Abbey and Trippel, let’s take a look, specifically, at how we changed up the malts in Abbey.

The original grain bill for Abbey included Pale, C-80, Munich, Carapils and Chocolate, which combined for a delicious blend of toast, caramel, chocolate, and roasted bitterness. The new recipe swapped out a few of those malts for Special W (Weyermann’s version of Special B), CaraMunich, Black Barley and Oats, which adds additional complexity of dark fruit, nuts, and a tighter blend of those caramel, chocolate and roasty notes.

 “We wanted to fill out the body and weave the malt flavors together,” adds pilot brewhouse coordinator Cody Rief. “We added Caramel Munich, which is rich. Then we add to that Special W, with its chocolate and coffee tones, and then round out the edges with traditional Munich, Oats, and the rest.”

As for the result, you’ll have to head out to your nearest shop to taste for yourself. For info on how to identify the new recipes, just click here.

Tune in next week when we take a closer look at the story behind the yeast we ended up choosing for both Abbey and Trippel.

Cheers — Chris

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