Saturday, July 26, 2014

FarmWards and WardFarms: An homage to Tired Hands SaisonHands and HandFarm

Ingenuity! I added this to the cooler mash tun ~3 years ago,
works great for vorlauf and sparging.
Earlier this year I spent some time trying to emulate one of Tired Hand's flagship beers, and after only a few tries I got extremely close, if I do say so myself. In doing so I got a few emails, tweets, HBT private messages, etc., asking if I was going to try to "clone" their other flagship beer, SaisonHands. By the way, I'm not the biggest fan of the phrase "clone", these are more like "beers inspired by X" but thats a debate for another post. After all, we have to get our inspirations from somewhere.

SaisonHands (formerly FarmHands) is a pretty simple Saison meant to emulate those given to the workers on the farm way back when in the Wallonian region of Belgium, but with a little American kiss of Cascade hops. Its a light, refreshing, characterful beer and is a standard order for me when I visit the Brewcafe. Below is how Jean describes the beer on the menu.
Thats about all of the info I have to work from on this beer, when I was trying to deconstruct HopHands I was able to chat up Jean (owner/brewer) and try to get some info. For this beer I don't have a ton of questions aside from how heavily they hop the beer with Cascade and what ratios they use for the Oats/Rye/Wheat. So for this attempt I am going to take a bit of a shot in the dark on the how much to use of each. 

I would imagine that the Saison strain of yeast they use is fairly important to the beer, but I plan to continue to use The Yeast Bay Wallonian Farmhouse as it has quickly become my house Saison strain. I do know Tired Hands uses Canada Malting Company malts, which I happen to have on hand as well, but when tasting the original I did not get an overwhelming Pilsner malt character but I could be off. In my case I will be using a Pilsner base, although I have a hunch that they use some basic Pale 2-row, pairing it with Oats/Rye/Wheat to round out the grain bill. 
Emptiness slurry, and post boil sample. The color is spot on perfect. Oh,
the mason jar is blue, hence the green slurry, I assure you its normal yeast.

The hopping is a bit of a guess as well, I assume they bitter with something high in Alpha like Warrior/Magnum/CTZ and the beer probably comes in somewhere around 25-30 IBUs as thats a pretty typical Saison bittering range. SaisonHands has a nice citrus, earthy and spicy nose that I assume is helped by some from late hopping with the aforementioned Cascade. So I chose to go with a decent sized 5 minute addition followed by a flameout/15 minute whirlpool addition. I know the beer is not dry hopped, when I didn't see it on tap during my last visit the bartender told me the dry hopped Saison that was on tap was actually SaisonHands...accidentally dry hopped.

I suppose some of the citrus notes of the beer could be yeast derived, and maybe I am being heavy handed with the hops, but it seems to me that Tired Hands is always a bit heavy handed with hops. I believe this will get me relatively close, even if not, this has the makings of a damn fine little Saison. 

A portion (5 gallons) of this batch will be fermented entirely with dregs from a bottle of The Emptiness is Eternal that my friend Bill cultured up. The plan is to age it for a period of time on Chardonnay soaked oak cubes to mimic HandFarm which is SaisonHands aged in Chaddsford Chardonnay oak barrels with their resident microflora, funky. I am most excited about this portion of the batch, but it will take a few months to age out before I bottle all of it. I hate bottling, but something magical happens to a bottle conditioned Saison, it makes it all worth it in the end. 

FarmWards Tasting Notes: 10/1/14


Brew day: 6/28/2014
Kegged: 7/12/20134
-I actually brewed 15 gallons but its easier to share the recipe as a 5 gallon version.

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 7.50 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.80 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.042 SG
Measured OG: 1.045 SG
Measured FG: 1.007 SG
ABV: 5.0%
Estimated Color: 3.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 30 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

83.7% - 7lbs 11oz - CMC Superior Pilsen (1.5 SRM)
 6.1% - 9oz - CMC White Wheat (3.5 SRM)
 6.1% - 9oz - CMC Rye (2.5 SRM)
 4.1% - 6oz - Flaked Oats

Boil: 60min - 0.35 oz CTZ [14.20 %] - 23.8 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5min - 1.50 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - 6.6 IBUs
Boil:  0min - 1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - 0.0 IBUs

Generation 4 - Wallonian Farmhouse Slurry - 150ml/5 gallons (175b cells)

Sacch rest - 60 min @ 148.2 F 

Fly Sparge 5.75 gallons 170f

Misc: 60 seconds of pure O2. Filtered Philadelphia Tap water, Baxter Plant, 4 grams Gypsum, 2ml lactic acid. Mash ph 5.35.

Notes: Pitched 350ml of healthy Wallonian Farmhouse slurry into 10 gallons of FarmWards and 250ml of Emptiness slurry courtesy of Bill. Both fermentations took off within 6 hours of pitching. FarmWards was basically done in 3 days. Hilariously I forgot to open the blow off valve on the Spiedel fermenter and I almost had a bomb go off in my fermentation chamber but I caught it just in time.


  1. ok, I'll bite. I've never heard of emptyness, nor have I ever seen a green yeast slurry. What is up with that?

    1. Emptiness is a reference to a beer Tired Hands brewed called the Emptiness is Eternal. Its a funky Saison aged in Oak barrels with bugs (some resident some pitched). It is a series of beers of which most of them are aged on fresh fruit. If you can snag a bottle, only via trade, do what you can bc they are all fantastic. Oh, and that mason jar is blue for some reason, so the slurry looks green even though it isnt.

    2. The blue jar definately threw me. I never see any tired hands stuff, cept for a random growler that will ocasionally show up at the homebrew club meeting, they have made one of the best berliners I've ever had. Great stuff.

  2. How'd this turn out? I'm hoping to brew something similar relatively soon but with 3711 instead. I'll be at Tired Hands this week to try this out again. Ps, I brewed your Hop Hands clone a few months ago and it was fantastic, so thanks!

    Cheers from across bridge in NJ!

    1. I am sure 3711 would work great. I am still reserving final judgement bc it is still a bit green but I am enjoying it. Its drinking good, but might be a little heavy on the Cascade. I am going to give it another week and give it a full review.

      Where in NJ? You should come to a Philly Homebrew club meeting.

    2. So would you say to maybe lower the cascade addition by half an ounce or so? I'm right in Cinnaminson actually. I've definitely been looking for a club so I'll check it out!

    3. You know, maybe I spoke too soon. I brought a growler out recently and someone noted they loved the citrus note in the beer. I'm torn, but I still have to sit down and really dive into it and give it a thorough review, I would brew it as is or maybe dial the late hops back %25 for now. I'll post some in depth notes next week.

    4. I've had this in a keg for a few days so it's still a little uncarbed and green but it tastes fantastic already and I'm sure it's only going to get better in the next few weeks. I'm getting a lot of citrus from it which I don't mind at all (it's actually quite refreshing). A very nice hoppy alternative to the typical IPAs and pale ales I normally brew. I'd say it's very close to Saison Hands but not quite dead on, however, I think that's just because of the yeast character I got from 3711. It doesn't have the same kind of saison funk as the yeast Tired Hands uses. It's also a touch hoppier than Saison Hands but that might just mellow out a little as it ages (if I can stop myself from taking samples every day!). I'm curious to see how your tasting notes look and how that Wallonian strain worked out. Keep your Tired Hands clones coming! I'd love to see your take on Pineal or Mago Tago.

    5. I agree with you that its a bit too hoppy, and probably too citrusy, but its stands on its own as a pretty great Saison as is. If planning to dial this into a SaisonHands clone then I would need to tweak it, which I plan to do. I do think Wallonian is a similar character as TH Saison yeast but its deffinitely not the same, 3711 may be a bit too clean, or fruity, to really clone one of their Saisons with. I love Mago Tago!

  3. just curious. why only a 60 min boil with pilsen?

  4. Ah yes, good catch. I am of the opinion that the length of the boil isn't as important as boil vigor when trying to boil off DMS precursors. I boil very vigorously and have never had DMS issues even in all Pilsner.

    1. Cool, gotta try it next time. My system is electric and I can ramp that heat real quick

  5. You might know the answer to this. I emailed Tired Hands a while back asking them if it was possible to culture dregs from a bottle of FarmHands but they never got back to me. Basically I wanted to know if the used a different bottle conditioning yeast or not. I ended up drinking the beer with a friend and not culturing the dregs because we were at his place, but I'm still curious if I could have or not.

    1. I dont know the answer for sure, but I can say that myself and some friends have had success with dregs from their beers. Jean replied to a tweet of mine when I said Bill's beer with the Emptiness culture was fantastic, and he didnt seem to balk at the idea of us fermenting with it. I really doubt that they re-yeast though, and if they do its probably just fresh Saison yeast so you know you have that and the Brett for sure. Thats about all of the info I have.

    2. Very late reply, but I have been re-using their yeast for years now! I live very near them, so getting SaisonHands is simple. A growler fill will leave a TON of dregs behind.

      While I cannot confirm it from them, I am 99.9% sure they are not using a different culture. They simply didn't have the space or equipment to do that at the original location. There is no filtering at all!

  6. Hey Ed!

    Just wanted to check in on this beer, because I want a better understanding on how to brew sour/tart saisons like Hill Farmstead/Tired Hands make.

    Did any of the batches here end up being tart/sour at all? Or more funk/wheat-like (akin to any normal Saison bought in a liquor store like Hennepin or Yards Saison)?

    If you have any suggestions on how to brew light-bodied saisons like how they do, please let me know. I'm normally not a fan of saisons but if they teeter on the line between saison and berliner weiss like TH's does, that's when I get excited. Thanks!

    1. So long as you ferment this recipe out with a blend of Sacch, Brett and LAB you will get something in the same vein as the Tired Hands barrel aged Saisons.

  7. Hey Ed, did you ever get around to tasting the chardonnay/oak portion?

    1. I never posted a review of the final product, not really sure why. I am planning a post with updates on 2-3 beers I never wrapped up with this being one of those. Might be a bit past its prime now but I havent had one in a bit.

  8. Hi Ed,

    SaisonHands has a nice subtle tartness. Where do you think that comes from? Do you think they use some lactic acid additions or acidulated malt? Or do you think they use something other than Sach strains?

    1. Saison Hands is considerably different these days with each batch being fermented in oak foeders. The beer is ever changing batch to batch and imo is a significantly better beer than the original Saison Hands. The acidity comes from bacteria that likely now resides in those foeders, you'll want to get some bacteria, maybe some brett, and some neutral oak in this beer if you want to emulate what Saison Hands is in its current form.

  9. Thanks Ed. Your posts are very educational and really lend a hand to the home brewer who is endeavoring to produce fine beer.

    We appreciate it!