Friday, December 20, 2013

Tasting: FItR w/Mangos

In February of this year I had a batch of the Farmer In the Rye stall at 1.020, Dupont culture and too cool a fermentation was the culprit. Instead of just adding Wyeast 3711 to dry it out, as I've been known to do, I decided to pitch some ECY03 Farmhouse Brett slurry that I had laying around. I have used this blend before and really enjoyed it, the rumor is that one of the Brett strains in the blend is a Fantome isolate, among other strains of Brettanomyces and Saccharomyces. 

The beer attenuated to 1.003 pretty quickly, in about 4 weeks time, and since I had already done 4 beers with the ECY03 blend I wanted to try something a bit different. Around that time, roughly May, Mangos were in season and thought it would be an interesting fruit to age the beer on. So I skinned, cubed, froze, then pureed the mangos (~1lb per gallon of beer) and racked the beer onto the puree to age. Fermentation kicked back up for a few days with a small 1/2 inch krausen, then for a month or so there were some fine bubbles shooting up to the surface. After 2-3 months the beer dropped clear and I bottled to 3.0 vols of co2.

FItR w/Mangos

Appearance: Slight gusher, I had to pour relatively quickly but it didn't make a mess. Pours with a fluffy bright white 2 finger head that dissipates to a thin covering on top. Effervescent tiny bubbles shooting up the glass, almost champagne like. Very hazy with some chunks of fruit. Beautiful straw yellow with almost a neon tint.

Aroma: Notes of hay, fruity acidity, barnyard funk. Peppery spice.

Taste: Prickly carbonation up front, very carbonated, light body. Mango forward, slight tartness, spice (pepper), with a dry finish. It does finish a little watery, there isn't much after taste, it's off your palate pretty quickly. It does leave you wanting to take another sip, pretty refreshing.

Overall:  I enjoy this beer for what it is, which ultimately is a beer with a meandering path to its final flavor profile. When I brewed the beer I did not intend for it to be a funky Saison aged with Mango puree, but it works and I am happy with it.

There are two issues I have with the beer that keep it from being better than just good. The first, and really least important to me, is the amount of chunks of mango in the bottles that ultimately get pulled into suspension when the bottle is opened. It doesn’t bother me but I imagine it might not be appealing to some people. The other issue is it is a bit watery/thin in body, my guess is that can be attributed to just how dense the mangos I had were. I do think my choice to puree the fruit did not help in both these departments, if I had just cubed and froze the fruit I think both of these issues could have been minimized to an extent.

This little beer gave me an idea to do some variations on my FItR recipe, I plan to continue the fruit series with Peaches (also ECY03+WLP565) coming up next and also dive into a commercial dregs series with this base beer. Currently in the fermentor is Logsdons Seizon Bretta dregs, and Hill Farmstead dregs variants.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tasting Notes: Farmhouse Festbier

In the past I have not been great about brewing a beer in advance for the up coming season. I usually have a list of beer ideas, experiments that I want to do, or ingredients I want to try and tend to focus on those themes. So sometimes the beers of a certain season are put on the back burner and then its too late. 

For this fall I tried to buck that trend and brew something ahead of time that would combine both my idea of a fall/winter seasonal beer and my love for farmhouse style beers utilizing a platinum strain of yeast I had never used before. While also using a technique I call "capping the mash" that I have been trying recently to get more color in a beer without the harsh astringency from highly kilned malts that I think can clash in styles as delicate as Saison. This method was talked about alot in Gordon Strong's presentation at the NHC this year.

Obviously, this beer is served out of a Can!

Farmhouse Festbier:

Appearance: The beer pours a maroon-ish brown color with orange highlights when held up to the light, opaque and murky clarity. There is a small off-white head and seems slightly under carbonated, the keg version was very carbonated and pours with a thick off-white head. Moderate head retention with decent lacing on the glass as I take a few sips.

Aroma: Notes of mild chocolate, a bit of a cracker aroma. Slightly phenolic but only faintly, there isn't a huge yeast aroma but seems to playing nicely with the malt profile. Pretty subtle, no off aromas, almost clean for a Saison (too clean?).

Flavor: Low carbonation, not how I had intended. A slight maltiness, with a nice bready note to it to counteract the mild chocolate, light to medium body fading to a slight dryness but very smooth for 7%+ beer. Earthy, rustic but not as much as I wanted, there is a slight tartness but only on the middle of the tongue. I could be confusing it with dryness or some alcohol flavors. No hot alcohol character however, or burn as it goes down. A very cleanly fermented beer.

Overall impression: These cans did not hold the carb worth a lick due to the low fills levels but it didn't take away from the character of the beer too much, I still very much enjoyed it for what it was. The high carbonation I normally got with this prior to canning made it a much better beer, the spritzy carbonation made for a more refreshing drink and added some complexity allowing more of the yeast character to come out in the nose. 

In the different light you can see the orange highlights.

As is I enjoy this recipe quite a bit, if I would change anything it would either be the yeast or my fermentation schedule. I ramped this beer up to a max of 78f since I was not too familiar with this strain I didn't want to go too high. The resulting beer has a very mild yeast character, but it could also be overwhelmed by the malt and even the honey used. Next year I'll use WLP565 and really ramp the fermentation temps up to 90f as I normally do, as well as source some local honey. Otherwise, I am very happy with this beer.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Helianthus - a Malted Sunflower Saison

I am always looking for new ingredients to use in a Saison/Farmhouse Ale, whether its yeast or a fancy aromatic hop, I love tinkering with the style. Earlier this year on Basic Brewing Video and Basic Brewing Radio James brewed a beer with Malted Sunflower Seeds and interviewed Jason Cody, the president of Colorado Malting Company the company sells the Malted Sunflower Seeds. The interview was great, he touches on how they got into Craft Malting and some of the different things they are testing out. It all sounded perfect to me for a Farmhouse ale.

I reached out to CMC to place an order but unfortunately they were out, it seems that they do limited malting runs on these lesser used ingredients. Over email I asked Tim Cody, Home Brewer Product Advocate (what a title), about availability and he said to check back late summer. I did just that and sure enough it was back in stock, Tim was very helpful over email, I wish they had an online store but Tim helped me get the order through.
The plan was to brew something simple so I could really see what the Sunflowers brought to the beer, if anything at all.  I and I had plenty of Pilsner malt and whole leaf East Kent Goldings on hand, so I settled on ~75% Pilsner, 20% Malted Sunflowers, some sugar and all EKG's in the boil. I took a bit of a shot in the dark on the sugar potential in the seeds and guessed at 1.020, I either guessed right or got lucky, I think the latter. CMC's website lists the color at 3.0L so this should be a pretty pale beer.
There were some holes in the bag when the job was done, 
but the crush seemed sufficient.

For testing purposes I like to brew smaller 3.5 gallon batches on my stove top at times with new ingredients. I also do this for some big beers or DIPA's, anything I don't need a large volume of.
Post "crush".

I reached out to James from Basic Brewing about dealing with the Sunflowers, since he mentions in the video that they were "tricky" to mill. His method was to open and close the gap on his mill to get them to go through the rollers. I opted for the rolling pin method, not very exact but it got the job done with some elbow grease. All of the Pilsner malt was of course run through my mill as usual.
Floating in the mash.

Originally I had a theory that the Sunflower might act as a filter to help in sparging, not that I needed it in this simple grist, but maybe it could help in some beers with Rye or Wheat. As soon as I dough'ed in I was proved wrong, these things float right to the top. 

The only problem this caused me was it was difficult to judge the level of liquid on top of the grain bed during the sparge. There was all of these Sunflowers floating, then a layer of water then the Pilsner on the bottom. So I sat a small strainer on top of the grain bed so that I could judge the liquor level on top of the grain bed so it wouldn't run dry.

The rest of the brew day was pretty straight forward, I bagged all of the EKGs in thew boil in hopes of having a clean slurry at the bottom of the fermenter to wash and reuse again. Going into the fermenter the wort tasted pretty simple, not unlike some Saisons with just wheat and Pilsner that I have made in the past but I will reserve judgment until I try the finished product. 

Full recipe can be found below.


Brew day: 11/2/2013
Kegged: 11/28/2013

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 5.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 4.25 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 4.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 3.70 gal
Estimated OG: 1.045 SG
Measured OG: 1.046 SG
Measured FG: 1.006 SG
ABV: 3.8%
Estimated Color: 7.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 37.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71.6 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 70.5 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

76.7% - 5 lbs-12 oz Pilsner
20.0% - 1 lb-8 oz Malted Sunflower Seeds
3.3% - 4.0 oz - Turbinado sugar (added at high krausen)

Boil: 60min - 0.75 oz East Kent Goldings [6.60 %] - 25.7 IBUs

Boil: 15min - 0.50 oz East Kent Goldings [6.60 %] - 8.5 IBUS
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient

Boil: 5min - 0.75 oz East Kent Goldings [6.60 %] - 3.9 IBUS


Harvested Slurry of: WLP585 Belgian Saison III + WLP565 Belgian Saison I

Sacch rest - 60 min @ 148.3 F

Fly Sparge 3.62 gallons of 170f water.

Misc: 30 seconds of pure O2. Philadelphia filtered tap water, 1/2tsp Gypsum in the mash. 

Tasting Notes: 1/24/14