Monday, June 27, 2011

Brett Beer Series: Brett C Saison

It probably should not be called a Saison since it was not made in a Farmhouse nor was it brewed with yeast from a Farmhouse (well, maybe). Naming these beers is becoming much more difficult. I wonder how soon before we will see a new BJCP Style for Brett Only Beers. Ever?
The more I think about it, the more difficult these beers are to fit in a style. Do you break them up by:
  • Brett Strains (A,B, C, L....)
  • Wort Differences (Brown Ale, Pale Ale, Hoppy, Malty)
  • Age (Fresh Fruit Flavors, Older Funky Falvors)
  • Sour or Non-Sour

This thinking has me wanting to start a new beer competition for Brett-Only beers. I guess what I'm getting to is a Category 23 Contest for Brett-Only beers. The best way would probably to have people enter their beers and describe the flavors they were trying to achieve. Let me know if there is any interest or if you have some ideas for guidelines.

Or maybe these beers aren't meant to have style guidelines and that's why we like them.

This beer fermented out in less than a week. I bottled it a month later due to being busy. For my gallon, I bottled 6 straight-up and 6 were blended 50/50 with the Traditional French Saison. The finished gravity was 1.008, which seems about right considering I mashed a little low. The hydrometer sample was pretty funky already. To be honest it didn't taste very good. It was a big mix of barnyard and a touch of dried fruit. I was expecting the beer to still have a good amount of fruit flavors. The beer did not receieve any more oxygen other than from being racked into the container. Plus it never formed a pellicle. My thought is that this beer is going through a bit of a transition. I'll taste this one over time to see how it develops.

One last thing, Thanks White Labs for the free yeast of Big Brew Day.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Traditional French Saison - Big Brew Day

This was my first Big Brew Day and it sure won't be my last. Our homebrew club QUAFF had over 30 brewers and 100 attendees throughout the day. I started pretty early because I had to go camping afterward, which was quite interesting to get everything packed into one car. I sure was glad that I have such a simple and portable system. If you are ever debating attending a Big Brew day you must go. It is easily the best way to get feedback on your brewing, meet fellow homebrewers and get a few new ideas.

On to my beer.

I was really digging the flavor profile from the Wyeast 3711 French Saison. But it was time to step up the gravity and try the yeast with a much more traditional grain bill. I also thought that the yeast was a bit lacking in some of the traditional spice/phenols expected in a Saison. I decided to cold crash my 1 gallon experiment with the Dupont dregs and add those in addition to this batch. I am going to compromise my fermentation temperature because I liked the French Saison in the mid 70s (see the tasting between the 2 batches) and Dupont (tasting coming soon) likes it ramped up into the 80s. So I'll start it in the low 70s and let it naturally ramp up toward 80 by the end of the first week of fermentation.

Recipe: Traditional French Saison
O.G.-1.058  F.G.-1.008   IBU-21 Size -7 gal
SRM-4   ABV-6.6%  

Grain Bill (76% Efficiency):
12 lb Belgian Pilsner (81%)
2.5 lbs Wheat Malt (17%)
4 oz Acid Malt (2%)

1 oz Saaz, 3.2%, pellet, First Wort 3.8 IBU
.5 oz Amarillo, 9.5%, pellet, 90 min, 15.5 IBU
1 oz Saaz, 3.2%, pellet, 8 min 1.9 IBU

150 mL Wyeast 3711: French Saison and Dupont dregs Slurry

Brew Day:
Brewed: 5/7/11
Kegged: 6/6/11

5 gal North Park Water Lady (very soft)
Chlorine Filtered Carlsbad Tap Water
Mash Adjustment: 1 g of CaCl2 
Sparge Adjustment: 2 g of CaCl2
(see water profile)

Mash Details:
H2O/Grain Ratio: 1 qt/lb
Mash Volume: 3.5 gal(2 gal of soft water)
Sacc Rest. Temp/Time: 148F @ 60min
Strike Temp: 164F
Sparge Volume: 7 gal (3 gal of soft water)
Sparge Temp/Time: 170F

Boil Details:
Boil Volume: 8.5 gal
Boil Time: 90min
Post Boil Volume: 7 gal

Ferment Details:
O.G.: 1.058
Ferment Temp: Day 1- 70F (ramped up 1F/day up to 78F)

Primary Length: 21 days (more laziness than necessity)

Stay tuned because I did 2 - 1 gallon batches off this brew. Graciously, White Labs provided all the brewers for Big Brew with a free vial of yeast. I had the French Saison yeast already built up for this batch, but I was very curious about trying a Brett C Only Saison. I will probably bottle half the Brett C version straight and blend the other half with the main batch. Also I wanted to build up the Brett C for a big batch of a Homegrown "BIPA" - (Brett IPA). The other gallon was pitched with the dregs from The Bruery's Saison De Lente.

Tasting - 07.29.11

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dreg Series: Dupont Foret Saison

I have changed my thinking a little bit on the Dreg Series. It first started out as a way to make a bunch of unique creative sour beers and now it is expanding to test out as many yeasts as possible. I am very curious also how different some of the bottle dregs will turn out from the commercial available liquid yeasts. I have heard they can be quite different just from yeast health and mutations.

For this batch I won't be comparing the "same" yeasts, but both are Saison yeasts. A bigchange from just using sour beers dregs Vs. dregs that are "pure" Sacc strains is that it is important to have higher pitching rates (and yeast health). The Brett, Pedio and Lacto in sour beer dregs will work just fine at low pitching rates. Starters can be used for sour beer 1 gal batches, but in my opinion aren't needed. For this batch it will be important to build up the yeast to a good pitching rate. Plus this lets you quickly check if you have good yeast (smell and taste your starters!).

According to Mr. Malty for 1 gallon of 1.058 wort I'll need about 40 billion cells or any easier way to measure for me is about 20 ml (.67 oz) of healthy yeast slurry. This is a bit difficult to measure, but works for me as I have something to shoot for. A week ahead of time a made a cup (8 oz) starter of 1.030 wort. There was a decent amount of yeast in the bottle and there was activity after a day. I kept shaking for a few days and built up a decent layer of yeast (I should have built up another small starter to get the right pitching amount, but life got in the way).
After racking off a gallon of wort from my San Diego Session Saison I pitched the whole starter. I had strong activity by morning. The wort was pitched in the low 70s and the ambient temperatures was in the low to mid 70s. I know that this yeast likes some heat so I found my old aquarium heater and made a nice warm bath. I had to keep adjusting the knob to get the right temperature. It worked pretty well and kept the wort near 80F for another couple weeks. I read that this yeast can take a while so I gave it plenty of time.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bike Ride: Poway (Sycamore Canyon) Native Plants

Having a office job means that it is necessary for me to get outside on my lunch breaks. I work out in Northeast San Diego County in Poway (The City in the Country). The nice part about this area is the accessibility to hiking and bike trails. From our office we can be on 3 or 4 trails within a .25 mi.

Early this Spring (end of March) we went on a ride to see the status of the native plants after we received so much rainfall this year. This actual ride was on our road bikes and is a nice 6 mile loop from the Business Park of Scripps Poway Parkway and up Sycamore Canyon Rd. It has a good hill near the turn-around area where you can continue down into Mission Trails Park.

Wild Purple Nightshade - Solanum xanti 
Great Flower and related to the tomato and eggplant. (Check here for better Nightshade pictures)

Yellow Yarrow -Eriophyllum Confertiflorum
More pictures of Yarrow

Fuchsia-Flowered Gooseberry - Ribes speciosum
Stay tuned to a future post about harvesting the berries and preparing them for a sour beer
More pictures of Fuschsia Flowered Gooseberries

Black Mustard - Brassica Nigra
This will be harvested soon and I will make my own mustard with the wild seeds

Chaparral Yucca - Our Lords Candle - Hesperoyucca whipplei
Here is a good site about how the Native Americans used Yucca

One last note a great way to identify native plants is to use the Cal Photos website. You can enter as many details as possible and then just look through pictures till you find the one you need. This site is much more helpful if you already know the basic plant family or common name.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Homebrew Tasting: San Diego Session Saison

This beer turned out pretty close to what I was thinking.
If you remember from the Session Saison Brew Day post, I fermented this beer in 2 different containers. The big difference between the fermentors was temperature control:
  • Keg was left in the brewing closet at ambient temperatures (72 - 76 F). 
  • Carboy was kept at lower temperatures (68 - 70F) for 2 reasons:
    • 1) This batch was made for a Bachelor party and the grooms favorite beer is Stella Artois so I didn't want this beer to get over the top spicy. 
    • 2) For experimentation, I was curious what differences I would get from the temperature differences

These beers were different, but not nearly what I was expecting. The beers had very similar flavor profiles, the only real difference was the intensities of the flavor. The extra 5 degrees made an obvious difference. And I much preferred the Keg version, but the Carboy version did perform as I planned (Supposedly ... we drank all the beer waiting in the parking lot before the trip even started, so it was good)
Appearance: Pretty clear. the yeast took a while to settle out and is pretty fluffy. The color is very yellow due to 20% Flaked Corn

Aroma: Big citrus up front, a nice crisp lemony smell that comes off a bit sweet ( I believe this is also from the Flaked Corn.) Just a light background of peppery phenols.

Taste: The taste followed exactly with the aroma. It starts off crisp with a decent amount of lemon and citrus. Then you get some mild pepper notes and ends somewhat sweet (the sweet is hard to describe because the beer did finish at 1.002, but I think it a flavor from the corn that gives that perception)

Mouthfeel: Light, it has a quick finish that makes you want to keep drinking. It was carbonated up to 3 Volumes of CO2 which helps with the light mouthfeel.

Drinkability:Yes. Easy Summer-time beverage that has enough spice to be interesting, but not too much to prevent you from wanting to consume by the pitcher. My goal for this beer was achieved.

Notes: I'm very pleased with how this beer turned out. The one thing I might try to do differently is reduce the Flaked Corn by 5% maybe 10%. I liked the light body and but I think the corn sweetness threw off the dry finish of a Saison.

Session Saison Brew Day
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