Belgian Brewday: Wonmisan Shiktakju

Shiktakju is probably a nonsensical word in Korean, but I like the sound of it nonetheless. Shiktak means table, specifically the kind of table at which one eats. The suffix -ju denotes a kind of alcohol. Now, normally, it’s appended to the stuff from which the alcohol is made — baemju is snake liquor (baem=snake), bokbunjaju is wild black raspberry liquor, maeshilju is plum liquor, and so on.

So it may be that my usage is a nonsense coinage, but on the other hand, some liquors are named for other things. (I don’t know for sure the etymology of baeksaeju, but I doubt it’s liquor made of one-hundred-years; it’s certainly not aged that long either.) Still, for me shiktakju does sometimes summon up the idea of a liquor being made of a table. This amuses me, so I’m keeping the name.

Turning from the name to the beer, it’s quite simple: I’m setting out to make a Belgian Singel, that is, a low-ABV Belgian session beer. My goals are:

  • to experiment with rye, because I have some, it’s spicy, and because I know it’s good in Tripels
  • to brew a beer under 5% ABV, not only to have a lighter brewday, but also in order to have a Belgian-styled beer on hand that I could have more than one glass of in a normal day, and of which Miss Jiwaku can enjoy a whole glass of if she likes
  • to do something in a Belgian Abbey style because I haven’t in some time now

I was pretty blown away by the aromas and fruity flavors on the Belgian Golden Strong Ale I made last November, and which I am still aging (sadly, in a keg with a broken dip tube, so I will need to rack it to another keg to taste it, but I figure bulk aging for a while more won’t hurt it). I figure some of that 2nd generation yeast cake, which I still have around, will do nicely on this wort, and I can build it up into a big yeast cake to work on a significantly bigger beer, maybe the Tripel Karmeleit-inspired Tripel I plan on brewing early this summer. (Perhaps making a stronger (6.5%) pale ale along the way.)

Anyway, these are my plans. I’ll be brewing the beer tomorrow, when I have more energy. While I only have a single day of class left this semester, the last few days have been particularly draining for me, as students have pretty much decided the semester is over… or, rather, have stopped doing any kind of preparation for classwork and started focusing on cramming for their intensive week of exams which begins next Wednesday. (Or have stopped coming to school since their other classes are, apparently, already “finished,” or so a few have told me.)

Update (10 June 2011): Well, I oversparged but only slightly, and my 90 minute boil was a little more vigorous than I expected (because I left the immersion heater going, precipitating one very minor boilover and one close call), so I ended up 3 liters short on the final wort; yet nontheless, the wort came out very much as I’d hoped: a rich, deep gold-coppery hue and tasting pretty good out of the sample tube.

I’ve boiled some water up and am just waiting for it to cool before I add it to the bucket and re-aerate. Fermentation should kick in soon, I think — probably by the morning — and I’m just letting it happen at room temp, which is about 21°C: there’s not that much sugar to chew through, so the yeast shouldn’t be too stressed out to begin with, and slightly higher temperatures will bring out some fruity phenolics of the kind I’m after, and which were produced by the Golden Strong Ale that this yeast cake is from.

And yes, I know that after fermenting up a 9%ish ABV beer, the yeast will be mutated somewhat. I’m actually curious to see how, so this is not a decision made in error.

By the way, the recipe is here. here.

UPDATE (13 Nov. 2011):

At some point along the way — I think it was in September — I added a small amount of cognac in which French toasted oak and orange peels had been steeped for a long time. There was a noticeable shift in flavor, but mostly from the orange, not the oak.

Then, today, I got tired of Abigyuhwan Belgian Golden Strong Ale taking up a whole keg, and decided to blend the last remaining amount (maybe a gallon or less) into a remaining 6-6.5 liters of my Shiktakju. The result, so far, is quite glorious — a sweet, rich brownish ale with the fruitiness of the Abigyuhwan and none of the fusely pain, and all of the color and body of the Shiktakju.

4 thoughts on “Belgian Brewday: Wonmisan Shiktakju

  1. I saw your neologism and wondered whether you were going for something like “table wine.”

    It’s been interesting to read about your ongoing experiments in brewing. Almost makes me wish I drank alcohol.

    Bonne continuation! Fighting!

  2. Very close, Kevin: “table beer.” Which I think is an alien enough concept to Korean drinking culture — Beer that’s lower in alcohol than even Hite? Designed to drank with meals and NOT inure you to the bad quality of drinking food, and NOT get you drunk? What’s this for?” — that there probably is no good, quick way to say it in Korean.

    Glad you’re enjoying the experiments.

    Out of curiosity, were I to put a 2% beer in front of you, would it count as “drinking alcohol”? What about some rum pudding that was flambéed so some of the alcohol is burned off? Or that kombucha stuff that’s, I dunno, 0.5% to 1%? I’m just curious, I guess; I’m supposing it depends on whether it’s a religious decision, a health decision, or something else.

    (Not mocking or pestering you… it’s just, as I’ve begun to brew, I’ve begun to notice how the lines are drawn and where, about who drinks what, and it interests me.)

    Thanks for the encouragement, in any case. :)

  3. Oh, it’s nothing religious. I just grew up without alcohol, and never acquired a taste for it. I do use alcohol in cooking, though, such as when I make my version of choucroute alsacienne, or a homemade spaghetti sauce, or a boeuf bourguignon.

    I should note, too, that my initial comment was sloppily worded. I should have written:

    I saw your neologism and wondered whether you were going for something like the “table” in “table wine.”

    Obviously, the “ju” meant “beer” in the context of your post; my focus was simply on your usage of “shiktak,” but I didn’t make that clear enough in my comment. Apple polly loggies.

  4. Oh, it’s nothing religious. I just grew up without alcohol, and never acquired a taste for it.

    Can’t blame you. A lot of stuff out there tastes like junk. Not to say my beer would change your tastes, but… heh, I understand.

    I do use alcohol in cooking, though, such as when I make my version of choucroute alsacienne, or a homemade spaghetti sauce, or a boeuf bourguignon.

    Duvel in waffles. Supposedly remarkable.

    No worries on wording. I think I got what you meant. And, funnily enough, my table beer, being an attempt at the style of table beer brewed traditionally in abbeys (for monks’ usage, and probably given to travelers back in the older days) is religions in origins. Try telling that to people who have been brainwashed to believe that Jesus turned water into grape juice, though.

    (I now have a simple, canned challenge for them: show me grape juice that hasn’t been pasteurized in an airtight, sterile container — or better yeat, go home and make grape juice without modern sterilizing equipment and packaging; non-fermenting grape juice was invented in the 1860s, after all, and for good reason: grapeskins are loaded with wild yeast, just as is the air in most places.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *