Friday, July 22, 2016

Farmer in the Rye with Pluots

Whenever I walk through Whole Foods, or any farmers markets for that matter, I investigate the selection of in season fruits in hopes of finding something unique for my yearly fruited version of Farmer in the Rye. Having tried Peaches, Mangos, and Plum+Apricots in the past few years I wanted to find something I was a little less familiar with. When I came across Pluots they immediately caught my attention.
Who let that stem get in there? We're all gonna be poisoned!
I had actually never had Pluots before buying them for this beer, if I had they didn't stand out in memory, some quick research on my phone while I ate one at the store revealed they are a plum/apricot hybrid. Specifically, the variety I bought are called Flavorosa Pluots and are said to be roughly 25% Apricot and 75% Plum, with a deep purple plum looking skin and a pinkish-red flesh. Flavorosa's taste every bit what you would expect a hybrid of those two stone fruits would taste, they are sweet, floral, slightly tart and very juicy, you Could mistake it for a plum by sight but they are lighter in flavor than your everyday plum. I really liked the flavors of it and thought it was a perfect choice for the 2015 variant of this beer (2016 is already aging), with the success of the Plum+Apricot version of the previous year I was curious to see how different it might be. I won't even be mad if it turns out similar to that jammy beer, but after eating the Pluot whole I was sure it would be much different.
Looked like a blood spatter scene Dexter would enjoy.
This year's batch is a barrel aged version, and might technically be the Ocean Between the Staves recipe but they are very similar in the end. The beer was primary fermented in the barrel with WLP565 and aged there for 3 months along with a blend of Brett and Bacteria that has been cultivating in that barrel via dregs and other strains I've collected over the years. Once I emptied the barrel 5 gallons was racked right onto 6 pounds of the Pluots that I sliced into wedges and froze a few months prior, about 5 pits made their way into the fermenter. This is my standard practice for handling fruit in this type of beer, you can read more about how I handle it in the post about the 2013 Peach version. The beer was aged on the fruit for 8 weeks, it was done a little sooner than that but I have no problem being patient and letting the base beer plow through the new sugars that have been introduced by way of the fruit.

Lookin chunky, like Marshall's favorite hoppy beers :).

I bottled and primed the batch to 2.7 vol of co2 in heavy belgian glass bottles, as of the tasting below they have been in the bottles for 7 months. It took quite a while for these bottles to condition in spite of adding some fresh US-05 at packaging, the carbonation was soft until about 2 months in the bottle where it hit my desired level. I'm really liking the delicate balance between the fruit and fairly tart base beer of this year's variant (base beer was 3.3pH prior to fruiting), I am thinking the long bottle conditioning helped bring things together. Normally I go with a higher fruit:beer ratio closer to 1.5-2lbs/gallon, but this year I wanted something a little lighter and balanced. I do like the extremely fruit forward examples of these types of beers, but after having a bunch of Forest & Main's recent fruited Saisons I have taken a page from their book. targeting for a more balanced beer where the base beer and fruit are identifiable to the drinker. Something that I think has made this beer exceedingly drinkable. 

The 2015 Farmer in the Rye with Pluots:

Appearance: It's actually a little more pink than I had remembered when I bottled it, a very pretty looking beer with medium/high carbonation and a thin wispy white head that leaves lacing. Its hazy, likely from the fruit, but there are no chunks of fruit floating around, just a hazy pink effervescent beer.

Aroma: The fruit aroma isn't overwhelmingly huge but it's certain the star of the show. I don't know if it's more plum or apricot, but there is seemingly an interplay of aromas from the both. It's earthy, coriander and spice, plum skins, fruity ethyl acetate when I spin the glass with my hand on top then jam my face in. 

Flavor: The beer is soft on the palate with a silky smooth texture. It's not peppery but has a nice rye spice that lingers about, there is a slight carbonation tickle on the tongue which is then finished with some acidity and fruity sweetness I'd also contribute to the Rye. The beer is super dry, but you might not even realize it with how silky smooth the body and carbonation is. 

Final Thoughts: This beer is very drinkable, it's so smooth, complex and tart with fruit overtones dancing about. Its one of those beer that you look down and the glass is nearly gone and you barely realize because you've taken large sip after large sip. Pluots worked really well in this beer, but the base beer itself plays very well with the fruit. Some say Pluots are tart, but when compared to the base beer it actually does a great job to balances the tartness of the beer. If I see any hybrid fruits like Pluots, Plumcots, or Apriplums I will definitely use them again.

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 7.80 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.70 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.050 SG

Measured OG: 1.052 SG
Measured FG: 1.000 SG 
Estimated Color: 5 SRM (Probably not after the fruit)
Estimated IBU: 30 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80.00 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes

76.0% - 8 lbs 8oz - Weyermann Pilsner 
19.6% - 2 lbs 3 ounces - Rye Malt
4.5%   - 8 ounces Munich 10L

Boil: 75 min - 0.38 oz Magnum [14.20 %] - 17.3 IBUs
Boil: 30 min - 0.60 Saaz [3.60 %]
Boil: 30 min - 0.60 Strisselspalt [3.00 %]
Boil: 15 min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5 min - 1.55 oz Saaz [3.60 %] 
Boil:  5 min - 0.75 oz Hallertau Blanc [10.50 %]
15 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.50 oz Hallertau Blanc [10.50 %] 
15 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 0.75 oz Saaz [3.60 %] 

Brett and Bacteria resident to this barrel.

Sacch rest - 60 min @ 148 F 

Fly Sparge 5.50 gallons of 172f

Misc: The base of this beer came from batch # 3 of an Ocean Between the Staves, each subsequent changes as I add dregs of commercial beers and different strains of Brettanomyces. 6lbs of halved, frozen, Pluots in secondary for 8 weeks, pits and stems included. Water Profile: Ca-52, Mg-17, Na-35, SO4-107, Cl-100, HCO3-350

1 comment:

  1. I really love reading through your saison posts. My first funky attempt has been coming together beautifully in the bottle, and I've got another one on tart cherries that I'm hoping to bottle in November.

    I'd love to eventually acquire a barrel and start trying to maintain a culture that way, but do you have any concerns about trub build up at the bottom from successive primary fermentations? I know that brett seems to deal pretty well with off-flavour/autolysis concerns, but in terms of sheer volume it seems like the gunk at the bottom would accumulate quickly.