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Saison #4 (Summer Spiced Saison) Recipe & Tasting

I’ve brewed quite a few saisons over the last eight months or so, but I had yet to try brewing a saison with spices as the predominant flavor and aroma. Being close to the end of summer, I wanted to have something light, dry, and slightly acidic. Inspired by Sam Adams’ Lemon Pepper Saison, I decided to use lemon zest as the primary spice, combined with the more traditional combo of coriander and grains of paradise. I also added 5% Acid malt for a dash of tartness. I think this is a solid recipe, but a bit of adjustment needs to be made to the spicing regimen.

 

2011-030 Saison #4 (Summer Spiced Saison)

 

Brewed: 08/11/11

Racked to secondary: n/a

Kegged/Bottled: 08/17/11

Ready: 08/20/11

Batch Info

————

Batch Size: 2.5 Gallons

Extraction Efficiency: ~65%

OG: 1.042

FG: 1.006

IBU: 28

SRM: 4.7

Boil Length: 90 minutes

Grain Bill

————

German Pilsner: 3lb 8oz (70%)

US White Wheat Malt: 1lb (20%)

German Acid Malt: 4oz (5%)

Belgian Cara-Wheat: 4oz (5%)

Hop Bill

———–

German Perle (6.5%AA): 10g @ 90 min

US Willamette (4.5%AA): 7g @ 30 min

US Willamette (4.5%AA): 7g @ 15 min

Other

——–

Whirlfloc: 1 tablet @ 15 minutes

Servomyces: 1 gelcap @ 15 minutes

Seeds of Paradise: 2g @ 0 min

Coriander: 5g @ 0 min

Fresh Lemon Zest: 14g @ 0 min

Water

———

Carbon Filtered San Bernardino Ground Water

Yeast

———

White Labs WLP566 Saison II

Mash Schedule

——————-

Sacch Rest: 152F for 60 minutes

Fly Sparge

Fermentation Schedule

—————————-

Pitch @ 76F, freerise for 10 days

Carbonation

—————

Hi-pressure Slow Carb: 30psi for ~60 hours.

Notes

——–

1. First time fly sparging with my 2.5 gallon system.

Tasting

———-

Appearance: Very pale. Thick white 3-finger head. Nice lacing.

Aroma: Lemon peel right up front. The pepper notes and coriander follow closely behind. Lots of fruity esters. A bit plastic-y.

Taste: Lemon and coriander dominate. Some spicy pepper, but more phenolic than from the seeds of paradise. Some stone fruity esters.

Mouthfeel: Very dry. The lemon peel  and acid malt add a nice light tartness that adds to the drying effect. Bitterness is soft, but present.

Thoughts: I think the spices are in the right balance, but are a bit too much as a whole, which reduces drinkability. I also want to try this with 3711 French Saison yeast to see if I like it as much. All in all, though, I’d call it a success.

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Categories: Belgian, recipe, saison, tasting

Saison #11 (#fml Saison) Recipe and Tasting

The #fml Saison was originally designed to be my entry in New Brew Thursday’s homebrew contest. My brewday ended up being a trainwreck, but to my great pleasure and surprise, the guys from NBT asked me to be on the show! I naturally had to drop out of the contest, but being a part of NBT is a pretty fair trade-off, I’d say.

One reason I’m glad I had to drop out of the competition was the horror of the brewday I had. Well, maybe horror is a strong word, but it was one of the worst brewdays I’ve had in a long time, at least. The day was going fine (I even had the audacity to say “wow, this brewday is going so smoothly!”), until all of a sudden, one of the anti-siphon valves on our sprinkler system decided to burst. Naturally, because we don’t have a way to shut off the water to the sprinkler system without shutting off the water to the house, this happened right as it was time to start chilling my wort. This was intended to be a hop-forward saison, so with the big charge of hops at the end of the boil sitting hot for as long as it did (It was about an hour and a half before I could get my water back on), my IBUs ended up being closer to 70-80 instead of the desired 50. Also, the hop aromatics were likely seriously hampered.

Twitter users now know why this batch was titled #fml.

I think this is a solid recipe, and the beer was drinkable in the end. I think a little tweaking and a better brewday could produce something really tasty.

2011-023 Saison #11 (#fml Saison)

Brewed: 06/09/11

Racked to secondary: n/a

Kegged/Bottled: 06/16/11

Ready: 06/20/11

Batch Info

————

Batch Size: 5 Gallons

Extraction Efficiency: 78%

OG: 1.067

FG: 1.006

IBU: ~70-80

SRM: 5.5

Boil Length: 90 minutes (~90 minute hot whirlpool

Grain Bill

————

Organic German Pilsner: 9lb (75%)

Organic German Munich Malt: 1lb         8oz (12.5%)

Organic German Carahell: 8oz (4.2%)

Organic Turbinado Sugar: 1lb (8.3%)

Hop Bill

———–

NZ Rakau (12.7%AA): 14g @ 90 minutes

NZ Rakau (12.7%AA): 14g @ 30 minutes

NZ Rakau (12.7%AA): 14g @ 15 minutes

NZ Rakau (12.7%AA): 56g @ 0 minutes

Other

——–

Irish Moss: 1 tsp @ 15 minutes

Servomyces: 1 gelcap @ 15 minutes

Water

———

Carbon Filtered San Bernardino Ground Water

Yeast

———

Wyeast 3711 French Saison

Mash Schedule

——————-

Sacch Rest: 152F for 60 minutes

Fly Sparge

Fermentation Schedule

—————————-

Pitch @ 75F, freerise for 7 days

Carbonation

—————

Slow Carb: 30psi for ~3 days

Notes

——–

1. Water to the house being off changed the 15 minute whirlpool to a 90 minute whirlpool.

2. First time using the hi-pressure slow carb method.

Tasting

———-

Appearance: Orange. Fluffy white head leaves some nice sticky lacing.

Aroma: Spicy and floral. Some malt breadyness. Some wine-like fruitiness in the back, if you look for it. A dash of citrus peel.

Taste: Much fruitier than the nose, almost tropical. Citrus peel, herbs (basil?) spice and a touch of heat.

Mouthfeel: Bone dry, well carbonated. Too bitter, for sure. The bitterness bites hard and lingers. Not too much to make it undrinkable, but much more than desired.

Thoughts: The bitterness is an obvious flaw, as is the lack of hop nose I was after. All in all, a solid recipe diminished by a train wreck brewday.

Categories: Belgian, recipe, saison, tasting

>Saison #5A (Saison Royale) Tasting & Recipe

>This recipe was an attempt to formulate a jumping-off point for playing with the Saison style. Saison has an enormous amount of flexibility flavor-wise, and I wanted to have a standard recipe that I could experiment with and build upon progressively, in order to explore the possibilities. It definitely needs some work, especially when it comes to yeast and fermentation (the essential ingredient in all beers, especially Saison), but it shows enough potential to be something to play with.

2011-013 Saison #5 (Saison Royale)



Brewed: 03/11/11

Racked to secondary: n/a

Kegged/Bottled: 03/21/11

Ready: 03/26/11

Batch Info

————

Batch Size: 5 Gallons (split)

Extraction Efficiency: 80%

OG: 1.058

FG: 1.003 (wow!)

IBU: 32

SRM: 4.7

Boil Length: 90 minutes


Grain Bill

————

German Pilsner Malt: 8lb (80%)

US Wheat Malt: 1lb (10%)

Belgian Cara-Wheat: 8oz (5%)

US Rye Malt: 8oz (5%)


Hop Bill

———–

German Perle (6.5%AA): 28g @ 90 minutes

French Strisselspalt (2.9%AA): 14g @ 30 minutes

French Strisselspalt (2.9%AA): 14g @ 0 minutes


Other

——–

Whirlfloc: 1 tablet @ 15 minutes

Servomyces: 1 gelcap @ 15 minutes


Water

———

75% Carbon Filtered San Bernardino Ground Water

25% RO Water


Yeast

———

Fermenter A: East Coast Yeast ECY08 Saison Brassiere Blend

Fermenter B: East Coast Yeast ECY03 Farmhouse Brett


Mash Schedule

——————-

Sacch Rest: 150F for 90 minutes

Fly Sparge


Fermentation Schedule

—————————-

Pitch @ 68F, freerise for 10 days


Carbonation

—————

Quick Carb: 35psi, shake for 60 seconds




Tasting

———

Appearance – Gold, a shade below copper. Three inch pillowy white head. Some staying power, with some fine lacing.

Smell – Fruit, biscuit and spice. Herbal. On the citrusy side. Earthy. Some funkiness. Taste – Big fruitiness up front, almost tropical. The herbal and spice notes blossom more in the back palate, with a light funkiness throughout. Slightly tart. Bitterness is pretty assertive, right where I like it.

Mouthfeel – A light sweetness from the crystal, with a quick and bone-dry finish. Very nice.

Thoughts – The mouthfeel, color and bitterness are spot-on where I’d like them, but I wanted more out of the yeast. I overpitched, so I’m sure the proper pitching rate would help considerably. I think the right pitching rate and a warmer fermentation temp would really add complexity and more of the spicy character I’m after. I also think upping the finishing hops would help add some extra dimension. I also am very much looking forward to tasting the Brettanomyces-spiked version called, what else, the Royale with Cheese.

>The Great Sour Mix Experiment Brewday

>Along with the Flemish Blend, Saison Blends and Old Newark Ale, my recent purchase of vials of East Coast Yeast also included the now-mythic Bugfarm (my version being #5). Inspired by the experiments I’m always hearing about on Basic Brewing Radio and my recent order from Northern Brewer allowing me access to Wyeast, I decided to create an experiment that would allow me to answer a series of burning questions:

1. Of the commercially available Sour Mix cultures, which is the best?

2. How do the flavor profiles of said mixed cultures compare?

3. Can said cultures get as sour as commercial beers, as some have spoken of their lack of final acidity?

4. Is buying these sour mixes even necessary? Can one sour a beer effectively using brett & bacteria cultured from bottle dregs?

I love sour beer, as previously stated, and I want to be able to make the best sour beers I can; given the limited space and time I’m allowed, I’d rather not waste that time and space on a beer that will produce less-than-optimum results. I think this experiment will allow me to figure out what base cultures to start with from here on out, or at least which to use in what situation.

The experiment began, naturally, with the yeast (and bugs).
The cultures used were, left to right, Wyeast 3278 Lambic Blend, White Labs WLP655 Belgian Sour Mix I, East Coast Yeast ECY01 BugFarm V, and my own sour dreg blend. My sour blend started as 500ml of 1.040 wort, to which I added dregs from a Lost Abbey Isabelle Proximus, Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze, Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueuze, Cantillon Gueuze, and Russian River Temptation (the extra volume in the starter was the liquid from said beers). I can say for a fact that this was by far the best tasting way to make a starter ever. EVER.

Having these cultures, I needed a simple recipe that would allow the differences in the cultures to shine through, and allow the bugs plenty of unfermentables to chew on over the long aging period. I went with a simple, mid gravity (1.053) wort, with 65% Pilsner malt, 15% Malted Wheat, 15% Flaked Wheat, and 5% Flaked Oats, bittered with enough Perle for about 15 IBUs. I figured this would be clean enough to not impose any malt flavor, while providing a good variety of proteins and long-chain sugars to feed the bugs over the long fermentation.

The brewday went off pretty much without a hitch, barring the extra long chilling process due to it being 95 outside that day, and the wicked sunburn I got by stupidly doing my brewing shirtless. For the brewday I used the 10 gallon system I inherited from my dad, splitting the final result into the four 3-gallon Better Bottles they will spend their long stay in. Any 10-gallon brewday is hectic for me, but it went well enough that I could snap a few photos:

Heating strike water in the bigass 15 gallon pot:

Mashing in:

My fancy-shmancy sparging setup (aka a board, kettle lid, and piece of aluminum foil):

My less-than-effective counterflow chiller, doing its job ludicrously slowly, even with the ground water pre-chiller:

The final product, pre-pitch. I was surprised by how even I was able to get the fill lines:

The four carboys, pitched and snug in their new home, with their other sour buddies:

Admittedly, there are a couple of caveats to this experiment that may effect the results:

1. Each of the sour blends were produced at a different time. The White Labs and my own mix were produced relatively close to each other, with the Wyeast being about a month old, and the Bugfarm being produced in January. Also, the Wyeast “smack pack” uses a yeast energizer in the package, which shortened the lag time. Ideally, each of the blends’ production dates should have been as close as possible to each other, but I worked with what I had, so I’m not too worried. Interestingly, the lag times of each of the blends accurately reflected the freshness/pitching methods of each package; the dreg starter was by far the quickest to start, with the energized Wyeast following soon after. The White Labs took about 24 hours to get going, and the BugFarm dragged behind considerably, only showing signs of activity after about 36 hours. Another interesting experiment would be to pitch multiple vials/packs of different production dates, to see how the lag time effects the final outcome.

2. Each of the yeast packages were designed to have a cell count suitable for pitching into 5 gallons of wort. I honestly don’t know how this will effect the final outcome, if one strain of yeast or bugs will dominate another in a way not intended by the manufacturer, etc. This is probably the most important caveat in this whole experiment, but again, given my limited space, I’ll take my chances with what I’ve got. It’ll still be fun either way.

This is probably obvious, but I’m REALLY excited to see how this goes! I’ll be making occasional updates with how this whole thing progresses over the coming months.

Cheers

Matt

>Sour #4 (Flemish Red) Recipe and Progress

>Rodenbach is the beer that turned me on not only to Flemish-style sours, but sour beers in general. I’ve been wanting to do a Flemish sour for a long time, and after a vial (cube?) of East Coast Yeast‘s ECY02 Flemish Ale became available, I jumped on the chance.

Then I thought, why stop there?

I’ve heard of people making excellent Flemish Reds with Wyeast’s 3763 Roeselare Blend, And I wanted to compare the two side-by-side to see which I would use for future batches. I could have done my usual Small Batches, or split a 5 gallon batch into two 3 gallon carboys, but this time I decided on a different route. I try to maximize my mileage when it comes to sours; 2.5 gallons is perfect for experiments and the like, but if something is going to sit for 12-18 months, I’m simply going to want more volume. I had two 15 gallon kettles from my dad’s old brewing setup, and I could fit a mid-to-low gravity 10 gallon batch in my 10 gallon cooler, so I said F it, I’m gonna go for it!

My last post
is how said brewday went. In short, it kinda sucked.

But I did end up with 10 gallons of red wort! So I suppose this batch has been successful so far. We’ll see how the souring/aging part goes…

The recipe I used was very much inspired by the recipes in Jeff Sparrow’s excellent Wild Brews. It’s a bible of wild beer production, and I highly suggest it to anyone looking to learn more about sour/brett beers.

2011-014A/B Sour #4 (Flemish Red)

Brewed: 03/16/11

Racked to secondary: 03/23/11

Kegged/Bottled: eventually

Ready: even later than that

Batch Info

————

Batch Size: 10 Gallons

Extraction Efficiency: 75%

OG: 1.055

FG: dry!

IBU: 18

SRM: 15

Boil Length: 90 minutes

Grain Bill

————

German Pilsner Malt: 12lb (55.8%)

German Vienna Malt: 4lb (18.6%)

US Flaked Maize: 2lb (9.3%)

Belgian Special B: 2lb (9.3%)

US Flaked Wheat: 1lb 8oz (7.0%)

Hop Bill

———–

German Perle (6.5%AA): 35g @ 90 minutes

Other

——–

Irish Moss: 1 tsp @ 15 minutes

Servomyces: 1 gelcap @ 15 minutes

French Oak Cubes (Medium Toast): 2oz (In Fermenter)

Water

———

75% Carbon Filtered San Bernardino Ground Water

25% RO Water

Yeast

———

Fermenter A: East Coast Yeast ECY02 Flemish Ale

Fermenter B: Wyeast 3763 Roeselare Blend

Mash Schedule

——————-

Sacch Rest: 158F for 90 minutes

Fly Sparge

Fermentation Schedule

—————————-

Pitch @ 68F, hold for 7 days

Rack onto 1oz oak cubes per carboy, let age until ready.

I had some pics from the brewday, but I destroyed them out of spite. Here’s a few from the racking day:

The two beers, just before racking:

The Roeselare is on the left, the East Coast Yeast on the right. Interestingly, the Roeselare batch racked brilliantly clear, while the ECY was much more turbid.

An ounce of tasty oak, waiting to be steamed:

I use a stove-top vegetable steamer to steam my cubes. It removes a bit of the tannin and sanitizes them a bit:

Racking into secondary:

Happy sours chugging along in the closet: