Fermentation Friday: Rosemary Belgian Brown


The Inspiration:

Compass Rose from Outer Banks Brewing Station, tasted at the World Beer Festival in Durham, NC in April of 2008 (original post).  This was a Belgian-style Brown Ale brewed with rosemary and was absolutely delicious.  Chris Cuzme and I wanted to make a beer to pour at our friends’ wedding and rosemary does stand for remembrance, so was the perfect excuse to brew this beer.

The Recipe:

(brewed on 3‧24‧2012 – a 5 gallon batch on my backyard burner using the Brew in a Bag method)

Malt Bill:

Mashed in at 153° F for 60 minutes (strike temp of 162° F) then raised temperature to mash out at 168° F.  No sparge – drained sack over the grate from my smoker.

Addition Schedule (75 minute boil):

  • 60 min: 1.5 oz Styrian Golding pellet hops (3.8% AA)
  • 15 min: Wyeast yeast nutrient
  • 10 min: rosemary (about 8″ worth of sprig from my backyard)

Pitched 2 Smack-packs™ of Wyeast 3522 – Belgian Ardennes™ yeast.  Fermented at room temperatures & not in my fermentation fridge – average of 68℉ with a range of 64℉ – 70℉

OG: 1.048

FG: 1.014

Around 4.5% ABV

Kegged 3 gallons on 4‧8‧2012 with around 2/3 cup rosemary-infused vodka and served at our friends’ wedding that evening.

Tasting Notes:

Very drinkable.  The rosemary-infused vodka added a very natural rosemary aroma and flavor.  The toastiness of the malts was a nice complement to the rosemary.  The malt sweetness is low and it has a light-medium to medium body.  Lovely session ale – balanced, flavorful yet very quaffable.


Chris and I were very happy with this beer and got a lot of compliments on it at the wedding (phew).  This is a terrific session beer to brew when you’d like something low ABV yet flavorful and/or when you have a time constraint.  We would definitely brew this again but we’d also like to make another version, bumping up the malt bill and therefore increasing both the malt complexity and ABV.  The yeast did not add much aroma or flavor which was perfect for this beer but we would reconsider pitching rate and yeast strain for a bigger version.  Adding infused vodka seemed like a cheat to me at first but it worked extremely well for this situation and added such a true rosemary aroma and flavor that I would definitely repeat it.  We’d also like to play with dry-hopping with the rosemary as well.  We’re probably going to do this with the remaining 2 gallons and bottle them – will add notes to this post if/when we do so.

Fermentations in Progress:

  • kombucha
  • grilled pineapple ale
  • seven sours

I’m reading Greg Noonan’s New Brewing Lager Beer in preparation for brewing my first lager this Sunday – woohoo!  Happy Fermenting!


  1. Vlad said:

    Wondering what your fermentation temperature was?

    April 13, 2012
    • Mary said:

      Very important question – thanks for the reminder, Vlad! This beer was fermented at room temperature & not in my fermentation fridge. Average ambient temp was around 68 with slight fluctuations, between 64 & 70. Post amended to include this info.

      April 13, 2012
  2. Keith said:

    Hell yeah, brew in a bag!

    Looks tasty!

    April 13, 2012

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