How a Pandemic Deep-Dive Helped Stormcloud Garner a GABF Medal

Well, the pandemic might have been good for at least one thing, surmises Stormcloud Brewing‘s Brian Confer.

During the spring of 2020, the head brewer and co-owner of the Frankfort, Michigan brewery said the brew team took a long look at the recipes for its Belgian Ale portfolio and gave it an overhaul.

“Using Stormcloud’s pilot system, [we took] a deep dive into the base ingredients and processes,” he explained. “We made several key discoveries that led to reformulating how we brew these beers.”

While ​2​28 Tripel ​has been ​on ​tap ​for years, ​Confer said it went through a recipe overhaul over the pandemic shutdown.

“So the pandemic did have a literal silver lining because the newly refined recipe for Tripel 228 earned us the silver medal [at the 2020 Great American Beer Festival],” he said.

To brew 228 Tripel, Stormcloud brewers use 100% northern Michigan​-​grown artisan Pilsner Malt from Empire Malting Company, German and French hops sourced locally, and a substantial dose of light Belgian candi sugars.

Amy Martin​, ​​Marketing Manager ​​for ​Stormcloud, ​said they ​have a Tripel on​ tap​ year-round because ​the brewery is Belgian-inspired and strives to have several traditional Belgian beer styles on at all times.

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​”​We also have a Dubbel, Belgian-style Blonde, Belgian-style Pale Ale, and some sort of Belgian-style Strong (Dark or Golden, depending on the season)​,” she said. “Regularly brewing all of these Belgian-style beers means we have a house Belgian yeast strain, which gives many of our beers their distinct flavor, including the 228 Tripel.

​”​As far as other ingredients used, we use Empire Malting Company’s Pilsner Malt as the base malt for several of our beers.​”​

​Being located in northern Michigan, a popular summer tourist area, the Stormcloud serving team makes great efforts to explain the beers to consumers and to help eliminate any previous thoughts on the styles. ​

​”​We often get new customers who have a preconceived notion of what Belgian beer tastes like, and believe they don’t like them​ ​—​ ​which is why we are happy to offer tastes of our beers to break their assumptions​,” she said. “One of the top-selling points we make about 228 (other than it winning the silver medal) is that it is light, effervescent, yet incredibly flavorful.

​”​People are attracted to its appearance​: a glowing, radiant gold​; its aroma: ​orange blossom honey with notes of white pepper; and its light-bodied, soft, and slightly fruity flavor with hints of alcohol and spice.​”​

Photo courtesy Stormcloud Brewing

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