Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Farmer in the Rye Saison

I am a big fan of Saison, you could say its my favorite style but I do go through phases from time to time with other styles. Its the history and tradition in Saison that I find so intriguing  From the farmer brewing the beer in the winter to be served to the farm hands working the fields through the summer months, to brewing the beer with whatever ingredients the farm had on hand at the time. Its just a fantastic historical style to make a rustic thirst quenching beverage is right up my alley.

This is a Saison recipe that I have done a few times before, the resulting beer is fairly classic despite the addition of the Rye. I have dialed in the grist and hop schedule, so in this batch I am working to find out which yeast strain works best with this beer. In the past I have used WLP565 and really enjoyed the results. The goal of this recipe is to create a delicate and refreshing beer for spring/summer to be enjoyed after a long days work.

Tasting when going into the keg.

Brew day: 1/12/2013
Kegged: 2/12/2013

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 16.85 gal
Post Boil Volume: 14.66 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 14.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 13.60 gal
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 4.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 29.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes

74.5% - 19 lbs Belgian Pilsner
15.7% - 4 lbs Rye Malt
3.9% - 1 lb Munich 10L
5.9% - 1lb 8oz Cane Sugar

Boil: 60min - 1.00 oz Bravo [11.30 %] - 16.6 IBUs
Boil: 30min - 1.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.80 %] - 9.8 IBUs
Boil: 5min - 1.50 oz Saaz [4.00 %] - 1.8 IBUs
Boil: 5min - 1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.80 %] - 1.7 IBUs
Boil: 0min - 1.50 oz Saaz [4.00 %] - 0.0 IBUs
Boil: 0min - 0.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - 0.0 IBUs

1.0 pkg French Saison (Wyeast #3711)

Sacch rest - 90 min @ 148 F

Fly Sparge 12.23 gallons of 170f

Misc: 45 seconds of pure O2 for each carboy.

Each vial had a different production date, based on that date I used to build up 125b cells to slightly under pitch for more ester production (Proper rate was 152b cells). Each strain was pitched into its own 6 gallon better bottle with ~4.5 gallons of wort.

***All fermentations started at 68f and were ramped up in temperature after 48 hours of fermentation.

Tasting notes:

ECY08 1.010 - Some clove, touch of banana, smells slightly of alcohol, earthy. Taste is somewhat dry, not overly. Moderate bitterness, medium body. Primary ferm temp ramped to 80f max.
3711 1.007 - Smells fruitier then the other, green apples no clove or banana. Taste is more dry, a touch more bitter medicinal on the back but not on a bad way. Thin body but a bit silky. Primary ferm temp ramped to 74f max.
WLP565 1.016 - Smells sweeter, very earthy, some sulfur. Taste is sweet almost clean. A bigger body than the other 2, my least fave. Primary ferm temp ramped to 80f max, I wanted to get this warmer but just couldn't get it any higher.

2/12/13 - Final gravity at kegging
ECY08 - 1.008
3711 - 1.004
WLP565 - 1.016 Stuck fermentation, pitched ECY03 Farmhouse Brett slurry into the carboy to get it to finish, it took off by the next morning. Obviously this will be a quite a different beer then I had intended.

3/1/13 - Final tasting.
ECY08 - 1.008- Banana nose, medium body giving perception of under-attenuation, earthy, fusel alcohols. Not what I am looking for, 3rd time Ive used this yeast and havent been a fan, it leaves the beer with a strange mouthfeel.
3711 - 1.004- Fruity nose, high carbonation, moderate body with a silky texture, dry and slightly spicy, drinkable and refreshing. Subtle. This is exactly what I was looking for.
WLP565 - Racked to secondary onto 4 lbs of fresh Mangos, boiled then pureed. I'll let the Brett work on the added sugar for a few months before bottling. I'll update with a tasting post on this beer down the road. FItR w/Mango Tasting notes

The French Saison version.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Weekend in Brussels pt.2 - Cantillion

The walk from the Pissing baby to Brasserie Cantillon is not long, should only take 15 minutes, but it was very cold and we made a few wrong turns so it took us a bit longer then it should. The neighborhood isn’t great, its pretty rough actually, but we are in a large group. The cold made it slow going mostly because we had to stop in 3 bars for a drink and to warm up on the walk, a few Orvals and a Westmalle Triple later and we have arrived.

More after the jump.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Weekend in Brussels pt. 1

This winter about 12 of us took a trip to Brussels Belgium for a bachelor party, some folks including myself only went for 3 days and only in Brussels, some others did travelling before and after. A lot of travelling for not a lot of vacation I know.

So to the trip, our flight was 6pm on a Thursday afternoon so some of us met at a local bar in Philly to have a drink and meet up to catch our ride to the airport. The idea was sleep the whole flight, land in Brux friday am and be ready to go, a few Bacardi and Coke on the flight which did the trick (no decent beer on the flight unfortunately and I wasnt buying).

We reserved a shuttle that could take all 12 of us to our airport, the driver was really rude and wanted to leave without one of our guys but we told him to relax and wait. Traffic sucked and I was tired but we made it to the Marriott across from the Bourse, grabbed Mcdonalds breakfast and cans of Jupiler (a crappy local beer) and were ready to go. It was Friday at 9am but we were ready to have some beers. So out of our group of 12 I would say 4 really care about beer and appreciated some of what we were about to experience. I had a guide that was written by Tom Peters from Monks Cafe in Philadelphia on places to go so I wanted to stick to the list but knew that would be difficult.

From our hotel the walk to the Grand Place was all of 2 blocks so that was the first destination. The square is really cool, awesome architecture and history, but where is the beer its 0 degrees C?!

More after the jump.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Champagne of the North - Berliner Weisse

I have tried my hand at a couple Berliner Weisse recently with varying sucess, all have been no boil with different methods for souring. My first attempt was Lacto pitched with WLP001 after chilling, the resulting beer was not sour at all and just quite bland.

Before I tried my hand at the style again I consulted Jimmy, one of the owners of Philly Homebrew Outlet, since brews the style often with great sucess. His process is no boil, sometimes mash hopped, chilled to 100f then add a handfull of uncrushed Pilsner malt directly into the fermenter to culture the natural Lactobacillus (among other yeast and bacteria I am sure) living on the outside of the grain kernels. Then he pitches a clean fermenting ale yeast (WLP001 or similar) 24-48 hours after souring. So we tried one of his that was around the shop and it was great, very sour but refreshing, I enjoyed it so I figured I would try his method. I was a little bit concerned though because it is really difficult to control the sourness being that you dont know what you're going to culture from those grains, similar to a sour mashed i suppose.

I brewed the 10 gallon batch at a friends house with both of us taking 5 gallons home, he went with the commercial lacto/WLP001 approach (which didnt fair too well, never got sour and was a bit one dimensional . Brewday was pretty straight forward, we mashed at 148f, mash hopped with 1 oz Tettanang, batch sparged and ran off right into the carboy. I sealed it up, drove it home and stuck it in the basement to cool down a bit.

Using a Paint stirrer on the mash. No dough balls!

Checked 2 hours later and the wort was at 108f so I tossed a handfull of uncrushed Pilsner malt into the carboy. To keep it warm I placed the carboy on a heating pad set on low then wrapped it in a blanket, the heating pad kept it at 100f for 48 hours perfectly.

After about 8-12 hours I could see activity, there was a thin white krausen on top of the wort and it was putting off a ton of sulfur.

At 48 hours I pulled a sample to check the level of acidity, it was VERY sour! So sour that it made my mouth pucker even with the residual unfermented sugars. I moved the carboy into my cold basement and crashed it to 60f in only 6 hours and pitched WLP029 to finish off fermentation. It took off over night and finished a day later. The beer sat in primary for 14 days until I had an available keg to transfer to.

While racking the beer I took a gravity reading and drank a sample, the beer was bone dry at 1.002. The aroma was a bit off putting, a bit of cooked corn and yogurt. In an attempt to clean up the off putting aroma I tossed in the dregs of a recent Brett Trois Saison I brewed and stored the keg away at room temperature to age.

After 2 months in the keg I popped it open, I vented it periodically but there wasnt much activity if any, and saw this nice little pellicle. 

I took a sample and the aroma that was ruining this beer was almost completely gone, I could still pick up on it but very very faintly but either age or the brett addition worked. so finally about 3-4 months it was finally time to carb and tap this beer.

Tasting Notes: 

Appearance: Light straw yellow, slightly white, almost like a moderately cloudy lemonade.
Aroma: Grainy and very lactic.
Taste: Massive acidity hits the tongue immediately, very very sour making the back sides of your pucker. Very thin bodied, but to style. The finish is wheaty and tart.

Overall this beer really came around with time but ended up overly sour, I enjoyed it in small 8oz tasting glasses from time to time but it was just too sour. All of the other characteristics of the beer were great, so I think I will tweak this process for the next round. One thing to note is that I got no character from the Brett Trois dregs, in hindsight I will let it age out for another month and re-evbaluateI did a bit of blending at the tap on this one to cut the acidity and thought it was great, 3 parts Berliner to 1 part Naked Golden Saison did the trick.

Brew day 9/08/2012
Transferred to secondary 9/22/12
Tapped 1/10/13
Kicked 5/21/13

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 10.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 10.00 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 10.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 9.86 gal
Estimated OG: 1.033 SG
Estimated Color: 2.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 0.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Boil Time: 0 Minutes

60.0% - 7 lbs 8.0 oz  Belgian Pilsner        
40.0% - 5 lbs White Wheat Malt

1.00 oz - Tettnang [4.50 %] - Mash

1.0 pkg - German Ale/Kolsch (White Labs WLP029)          
1.0 pkg - Lactobacillus Delbrueckii (White Labs WLP677)        

Sacch rest - 90 min @ 148 F      

No Boil Berliner Weisse, a small mash hop adding few IBUs, drained right from the mashtun to the fermenter and sparged to full volume. Threw in "1 small handfull" of uncrushed Pilsner malt at ~108f, keep warm for 48-72 hours, taste for lactic sourness. If sufficient, pitch starter of WLP029 ferment cool for 1-3 months and bottle/keg.