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.

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