Monday, January 26, 2015

The Farmer in the Rye with Plums


Jammy Plums and Apricots.
For the last couple of years I brew an annual batch of my Farmer in the Rye Saison then age it on fruit with different various strains of Brettanomyces. The first year of the series I used cherries (pre-dates this blog) and it turned out just ok, two years ago's batch was aged on Mangos with pretty decent results but not exceptional. After of a few years of ok results last years Peach version was one of the best beers I have ever brewed, Luckily I still have 5-6 750ml bottles stored in the crawlspace.


And yes, I added 10% of the
pits to the fermenter.




The wise move would probably be using Peaches again but I wanted to stay the course and change it up once again this year. I came across some Plums and Apricots at a local farmers market while in season and decided on a blend of the two in an 70:30 Plum to Apricot ratio. The Plums I chose (the variety escapes me) were tart, prune like and rich with a dark purple skin that that should lend a unique color to the pale base beer. I threw the Apricots in there to balance some of the prune/grape like dark fruit flavors a bit, hopefully the plums do not overpower the fairly delicate pale base beer. Using about 1.25 lbs/gallon the beer should be very fruit forward once again.

I prepared the fruit, as I have in the past, by giving it a quick rinse then cutting them up into cubes so that they would fit down the neck of my carboy, then storing them in ziplock bags in the freezer until I needed them. Once it was time to rack the beer, I added the fruit to the carboy first then the beer went on top. This years batch got a blend of Brettanomyces starting with cultured dregs from a bottle of Logsdon's Seizon Bretta that was pitched at the start of fermentation on the base beer. I blended in 1 gallon of a fresh batch of Jah-Rod, that I had added The Yeast Bay Beersel Blend, into 4 gallons of Farmer in the Rye at the same time I racked onto the fruit. The beer aged on the fruit for a little over 2 months before it was kegged where it would naturally condition with a fresh addition of priming sugar.

The Farmer in the Rye with Plums:
This photo does not do the appearance justice.

Appearance: The beer is an amazingly beautiful deep purple, very murky and cloudy with some fruit chunks. Has a thick pillowy pinkish head that hangs around for the entire glass, its not super highly carbonated but still within the style. Visually, this is a very eye catching beer.

Aroma: Jam like plum aromas, reminds me a lot of pomegranate juice actually. Just big juicy plum, prune, pomegranate nose. No hops, or much Brett presence to speak of just dark fruit.

Taste: A nice pop of acidity hits the tip of the tongue quick, spritzy carbonation keeps it crisp. Very dry and quite tart, light body making it pretty drinkable and then a smack of plum sweetness in the back of the palate. Almost no hops left as the beer is over a year old. You could easily mistake this for a highly carbonated plum wine with notes of pomegranate and subtle cherry. 


Final Thoughts: The plums do dominate the base beer a little bit but not so much to be overpowering, its just that the base is unrecognizable. It's surprising that there is little to no Brett presence but I think it might also be overwhelmed by the plum. This is super enjoyable, and a nice change of pace from the lighter fruits I had used the last two years. I will definitely use Plums again, but maybe blend in a heartier darker beer to help balance out the Plums a bit. I've had a lot of friends love this beer and say it was one of my most unique beers, I enjoy it alot as well but I am just so damn critical of my own beers.

7 comments:

  1. I'm loving your experimentation with these different fruits. How long are you aging the beer before racking onto the fruit?

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    1. It depends really, this one was quite old by the time I racked it onto the fruit at 8 months old, which is another reason I blended in some fresh beer. I think going forward I will try to use some fresher Saison as opposed to older more mature beer.

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  2. I'm sitting on a carboy of cider that got Seizon Bretta deggs pitched in to it after primary fermentation. I've corresponded with Logsdon's about the brett strains in Seizon Bretta. They told me that it had the had isolated two wild brett cultures from outside their brewery in Hood River.

    Keep your eye open for a bottle of Peche 'n Brett, it's an exceptional beer.

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    1. Oh man, Ive been droolin over a bottle of Peche 'n Brett I need to try it. There is a great interview with Dave Logsdon on Embrace the Funk from a while back where he talks about the Bretts he isolated. Cheers!

      http://embracethefunk.com/2012/05/18/dave-logsdon-of-logsdon-farmhouse-ales-qa/

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  3. Yeah, the dark base beer sounds like a fantastic idea for the plums, just imagining drinking your beer based on the description of it and drinking a can of Modern Times Black House in an Irvine hotel room... I don't know how acidic your beer got, but I am guessing only "lightly tart". I can imagine a decent level of tartness (not super sour either) also helping it out. That's all just my imagination though, lol! I haven't gone back to the Peach saison yet, but I am curious as to what made it so much better than the previous iterations. Was it just the peaches, or was it changes to the sacch/brett profile?

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    1. Yea lightly tart, I haven't taken a PH reading like I should have, but all of the tartness is coming from the fruit. Mostly it was just the peaches, I really like peaches and have had a bunch of funky farmhouse saisons aged on Peaches and they marry really well together for me. I do think that the different Brett strains come into play, the Peach version had ECY03b (not Brett!) and Brett C which seemed to work well with Dupont in that beer. Another difference is the age of the beer prior to going onto the fruit, the Peach and Mango were only 1.5-3 months old before going on fruit wher as the Plum was 8 months.

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  4. I did a plum sour that was with a dark base "sour" saison. The plums carry through and add a really unique flavor without being overwhelming. I have another version of this beer that I used blackberries and it taste completely different, more acidic and it has a thinner body.

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