Thursday, March 5, 2015

FarmWards: Batch #2 Analyzing and Tweaking Recipes

Recent upgrades to my system, shiny.
There is value in repetition, tasting a beer that you brewed, evaluating, and determining what you might need to change to get it exactly the way you want it. There are so many variables that you can change, and most homebrewing is quite manual resulting in batch to batch variability making it feel like youre chasing a moving target. The key though is to keep the changes in the recipe to a minimum, if you change 3-4 variables every batch you may have no clue which of those changes made the impact on the final beer. By making one, maybe two, small changes it should be easy to pinpoint whether or not you are on the right path. This is all assuming your process is at least close to repeatable, its very difficult to analyze impacts of an ingredient change if you cannot repeat your brewing process.

This type of meticulous analysis and experimentation over the last few years has really helped me to become a more precise brewer, and taster, of beer. This is especially important with Beta testing for The Yeast Bay, I want to be as precise and unbiased as possible when brewing and tasting. Not to say I have reached ultimate brewing accuracy, brewing consistency is always a work in progress. This is even more important when trying to emulate a great, very delicate, beer like Tired Hands SaisonHands as I am here. Techniques need to be consistent so that the differences in your recipe changes stand out in the end product, especially in a low gravity Saison where there is really nowhere to hide.

So with the second batch of this beer I made 7-8 changes, kidding, the changes here are very subtle and could possibly even go unnoticed. When I brewed FarmWards the first time I was trying to emulate SaisonHands without very much recipe info to go from. The result was good, not great, and definitely not a clone, it needed some subtle changes to satisfy my own palate. I am not 100% sure what those changes need to be, but with an educated guess I can narrow the options down batch to batch. Maybe I will even nail it this time.
White Wheat from Canada Malting Company.

I opted for a first wort hopping addition instead of a 60 minute bittering charge, same as I use in my hoppy beers, but with Magnum instead of CTZ hoping for something a little less aggressive. I lowered the Oats very slightly in favor of a very slight increase in Wheat and Rye. Instead of using a single infusion mash temp I chose to dough in for a Ferulic Acid then direct fire the mash to raise to saccharification. The Ferulic Acid rest should do a few things,  should lighten the body a bit, but more importantly I am hoping to encourage the production of 4VG (Spicy, Clove like) for a more complex fermentation profile. 

So thats technically three changes, shoot me, but they are each so subtle that I should be able to detect the impact.If not, I will revert these change back to the original recipe and make another subtle change which may or may not get me what I want. Even if they don't get me to my goal the journey of exploring the variations can be a learning experience more valuable than actually achieving that perfect recipe.

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: 1.044 SG
Measured OG: 1.045 SG
Measured FG: 1.002 SG
ABV: 5.5%
Estimated Color: 3.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 27.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

83.1% - 7lbs 11oz - CMC Superior Pilsen (1.5 SRM)
 6.8% - 10oz - CMC White Wheat (3.5 SRM)
 6.8% - 10oz - CMC Rye (2.5 SRM)
 3.4% - 5oz - Flaked Oats

Boil: First Wort Hop - 0.35 oz Magnum [14.00 %] - 21.1 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5min - 1.50 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - 6.4 IBUs
Boil:  0min - 1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - 0.0 IBUs

1L starter - Wallonian Farmhouse

Ferulic Acid Rest - 15 min @ 114.5 F (direct fired mash with ramp time of ~10 mins)Sacch rest - 60 min @ 148.7 F 
Mash Out - ramp time 10 mins to reach 170 F
Fly Sparge 5.75 gallons 170f

Misc: 60 seconds of pure O2. Filtered Tap water, Mash PH 5.39 targeting Markowski Farmhouse water profile.

Notes: Pitched and active 1L starter of Wallonian Farmhouse at 68F, let free rise to 75F and held there for 14 days resulting in a FG of 1.002. This resulted in a much stronger beer than I really wanted at 5.5% but I am most concerned with flavor profile than an extra 1% ABV.


  1. Iteration is something I find the most challenging about this hobby. I did it last year, with a few pale recipes, and I'm doing the same with my berliner recipes. You learn so much about both the recipe changes, but also about how (in)consistent of a brewer you can be. I agree 100% that this is how you become a better brewer / cook. Unfortunately I feel I have a much better grasp how to do it as a cook, than I do as a brewer. You'd think after 4 years brewing I'd know more, but I really feel I still have so much to learn. It just doesn't happen when the process is so drawn out, the results are months apart, and I can't brew nearly as often as I'd like.

  2. Hi,
    When I read the first post about your attempts to clone SaisionHands and HandFarm I couldn't make out what part of the text that was about your SaisionHands clone and which part was about your Handfarm clone.
    I absolutely love HandFarm. I was fortunate to taste it when I visited Copenhagen (Denmark) in august. (Tired Hands will return to Copen hagen in May btw, when they participate at Copenhagen Beer Celebration)
    I would love to give it a try to clone HandFarm.

    1. I actually haven't posted tasting notes for the HandFarm clone yet, Ive been meaning to, but it turned out really really good. But I think the key to it was the slurry I built up from the Tired Hands Emptiness series of beers. Their culture was very aggressive and worked quickly. The beer is dry, tart and refreshing. I will have a full review posted on it by next weekend, the recipe was almost perfect for that version, but an advanced culture is pretty important.

  3. The Blichmann false bottom is sexy, is that wrong? The recipe looks delicious but may I ask the purpose behind the Ferulic Acid rest?