Friday, May 27, 2016

Dandelion Saison

Fresh off my neighbors shitty lawn.
I spend a good amount of time participating in discussions on various Facebook groups, mostly beer/brewing related, and at times a topic or idea will come up that becomes all the rage in that particular circle for a period of time. These may not be a new ideas but it sparks discussion and inspires folks to try out something new or look at something from another perspective. These groups are really great places to learn, get inspired and rub elbows with some really knowledgeable brewers.

A couple months ago in the Saison, Biere de one of those hot topics came up that got everyone going, brewing with Dandelions, specifically Saisons/Farmhouse ales brewed with Dandelions. A Dandelion Saison is something that I have always wanted to do after hearing about beers like Pissenliit and Vera Mae, but two things were holding me back. One reason being I lived in the city and had barely seen a dandelion for over a decade, but the other being I had never even had a dandelion beer so I had no clue what to expect. Well now I have dandelions a plenty in the burbs, actually I have ZERO on my lawn but neighbors have plenty, but I still haven't had a dandelion beer and I may never unless I brew one.

I set out to design a recipe and started by reading Matt Humbard's blog posts, he had brewed a few of these in the past. I was most curious about the amounts of dandelions to use, how to prepare them, and at which point in the brewing process. I noticed Matt felt he needed a bit more in the post I linked so I tried to up the amounts a little but I still wasn't totally sure how to prepare the flowers. I read a bit about Dandelion wine production and a lot of those folks will deflower the weed using only the yellow petals, leaving the greens behind. This was due to a concern that the greens would lead to grassy or vegetal flavors, which made a lot of sense to me but also sounded like a ton of work. 

The day before my early morning brew day my daughter Ella and I, and her Power Wheels as her mode of transport, set out in my neighborhood to collect as many dandelion heads as I possibly could. We had to run onto peoples front lawns to reach the big bunches, sending my 4 year old looked less creepy than me picking weeds off someone else's lawn, child labor? It didn't take us long to collect one pound of heads which I thought was almost enough. I sat down that evening to deflower all of the heads we picked, WHAT A PAIN IN THE BUTT, I cannot imagine Fantome or Hill Farmstead do this. Once I was finished, not sure why I didn't stop mid process, I dug a little more and came across a photo gallery on Hill Farmsteads website from a 2013 Vera Mae brew day, and sure enough they used all of the greens and didn't deflower them. Doh, I should have looked there first, waste of time but wont hurt the beer none I am sure. Next year, no deflowering...
Took entirely too long to deflower these.

With the flowers picked, and for some dumb reason deflowered, I sat down to finalize the recipe for this beer. I took some inspiration from Matt's recipe by adding some honey malt into my grain bill for some malt complexity, paired with Pilsner and a sizable wheat portion rounding it out. I wanted to keep the hop profile relatively classic saison with some earthy/spicy hops and chose Sonnet Goldings to hop the beer throughout the, then finishing the boil by adding the Dandelions in the whirlpool. This winter I have been re-pitching a nice Saison culture that started as WLP565 with cultured Saison DuPont dregs, no Brett or bacteria. It's been fermenting quick and beautifully after 5 generations and will go perfectly for this earthy, spicy, floral and rustic beer. I think, since I've never even had a dandelion beer before *Shrugs*. 

I have no experience with Sonnet, but they were on sale and sound good for Saison.

During the mash I started to think I needed some additional dandelions, and since I wasn't going to deflower them I had plenty of time to collect more during the hour mash. I must have looked insane picking weeds from my neighbors yards at 6:30am, the things we do for beer. Once the boil finished up I cut the heat and dropped in a nylon bag filled with the dandelion leaves total of 1lb 6oz for 5 gallons, the 1lb that was deflowered and the extra 6oz I picked during the mash. I whirlpooled with the dandelions for about 15 minutes and started to chill. I actually ended up with a lower than expected gravity and higher volume which I was miffed about. Turns out my chiller was leaking into the kettle, for this beer it was only 1 gallon, which I didn't realize until my next batch when it ruptured and flooded the entire batch. This one was fine, just cut down a smidge.

I'm looking forward to finding out what this dandelion beer thing is all about, hopefully there will be a next years batch as well.

Tasting Notes: 8/18/2016
Loads of slurry.

Dandelion Jawn

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 7.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 6.50 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal
Measured OG: 1.042 SG
Measured FG: 1.002 SG
ABV: 5.3%
Estimated Color: 6.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 33 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 66.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

70% - 7lbs 8oz - Pilsner Malt (Weyermann)
20% - 2lbs - Wheat
10% - 1lbs - Honey Malt

Boil: 60min - 1.25oz Sonnet Goldings [4.20%] - 19.2 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil: 15min - 1.25oz Sonnet Goldings [4.20%] -  9.5 IBUs
Boil:  5min - 1.50oz Sonnet Goldings [4.20%] -  9.5 IBUs
15 Minute Whirlpool 212f - 1lb 6oz Dandelions

2016 Saison Culture (WLP565 with cultured Saison DuPont dregs) Generation 6.

Sacch rest - 60 min @ 148.0 F 

Fly Sparge 5.50 gallons 170f

Misc: 30 seconds of pure O2. Cherry Hill, NJ Tap water. Mash pH 5.35, Water Profile ( 113ppm Ca, 6ppm Mg, 10ppm Na, 107ppm Cl, 101ppm SO4). Some acid malt and some Lactic acid was used to lower the mash pH, your water profile may vary.


  1. Link your tasting article here when you finish with this! Also, should add this requirement: adolescent daughter willing to provide slave labor. =D

  2. I really need to do this. I'm sure I could find tons around here or go to my family farm and rack up.

  3. Insight content system My spouse and i whirlpooled while using dandelions approximately 15 minutes along with did start to cool off. My spouse and i truly ended up with a reduced when compared with estimated the law of gravity along with larger size i ended up being miffed with regards to. Seems our chiller ended up being leaky in the kettle, just for this alcohol it turned out only 1 gallon, i don't comprehend until eventually our up coming portion while the idea ruptured along with inundated your entire portion. This ended up being okay, only lessen a new smidgen.
    Kids Power Wheel

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  4. loved the article, but with all do respect- your abv doesnt make sense. 1042 to 1002 is approx 5.3% abv.

  5. I brewed a batch of this a few weeks back when dandelions were fresh for the picking here in NJ. I added 5lbs 9oz of dandelion flowers via bags at flame out and left them in while chilling but ended up removing them a bit before hitting my pitch temperature. I fermented using a 1L starter of Omega's Saisonstein yeast blend. The beer smells pretty good and floral but it tastes like bitter dirt. So to anyone brewing in the future perhaps more than 1.5lbs but less than 5.5lbs is ideal for the dandelion flowers!