Monday, December 19, 2011

Chocolate Chili Pumpkin Porter and Other Stuff

I apologize to the three people who read this blog for the severe lack of activity. But all has been quiet on the yeastern front here for the last few months.

First an update on the Utopias clone. The original plan was to add some honey and maple syrup to the fermenter to push up the abv. Then leave it to age for a year or more on oak and then to bottle it completely still. However after tasting it I just couldn't bring myself to mess with it anymore. So I decided to bottle it and carb it to about 2 volumes.

I haven't opened any yet but I did have a few tastes upon bottling and here is what I have to report.

As you can imagine a 14%ABV beer being it was quite boozy. Fortunately it's not fusel in any way, just lots and lots of alcohol coming through the nose; almost port like. The oak shines through nicely, and there's a small degree of sweetness, but not cloying.

In other brewing news. I've been craving good dark beers here lately. With all of the saisons and kolsch etc etc... that I've brewed for the summer months I've really been wanting something nice and roasty. So I brewed a batch of chocolate chili pumpkin porter.

I wanted to keep it small and sessionable, but still with enough going on to keep it interesting.

The base is pale malt with a pound of homemade brown malt. Specialty malts included some chocolate and pale chocolate malts, along with roasted barley and a little 60L crystal. For the pumpkin I wanted to use a light hand because in a beer this small pumpkin can easily become vegetal. So I only used 3 lbs. in the mash. There's also 1 cup of coco powder in the mash. Then I seeded and stemmed 5 ancho chilis and put them right in the fermenter. I went with anchos because I wasn't really looking for a lot of chili heat, more of a nice chili taste with a touch of smoke. If you've never had an ancho chili before, they taste like a smoky raisin.

Calabaza de Fuego - Chocolate Chili Pumpkin Porter

5 lbs. Pale Malt - UK
1 lb. Homemade Brown Malt
8 oz. 60L Crystal
6 oz. Pale Chocolate
4 oz. Roasted Barley
2 oz. Chocolate Malt
3 lbs. Canned Pumpkin
1 cup coco

1 oz. Targer Hops - 30 minutes

5 ancho chilis - in the fermenter for 1 week

Dry Nottingham Yeast

Carbonated to 2.1 volumes

Monday, May 30, 2011

Epik - with a "k" - Utopias Clone - Super Attenuation Update

So holy crap everyone. This thing has attenuated like a fracking champ (shut up. don't act like you've never seen Battlestar Gallactica.) After three days of the lower runnings beer fermenting I aerated the large batch and combined the two along with a very small droplet of olive oil. I realize that while the findings on the olive oil thing are controversial I figured a small droplet couldn't hurt anything and I wanted to everything I could to encourage cell growth.

I wish I had also added some fermcap but I figured with a gallon's worth of head space in my fermenter I should be fine.... boy was I wrong. Three hours later fermentation had taken off like a rocket and I had some blow over... but I only lost a quart or so. I let it go for 12 days past that. Fermentation was kept cool at about 64 for the first three days then I just let it free rise to 70. I just checked the S.G. and we're sitting at 1.015! How awesome is that!? That is some serious attenuation.

The hydro sample I just had is pretty darn good. Lots of perfumey alcohol and some nice sweetness, but deceptively smooth in taste. I can only imagine how it will be with some age. I'm now considering not trying to make this as crazy alcoholic as before because I'm enjoying where this beer is at... I'll still add the oak and let it age. But maybe not the extra fermentables.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Epik - with a "k" - Utopias Clone

Sorry for the lack of posting lately, but work has left me little time for brewing. A few weeks ago I did a strawberry ginger beer for my wife. I'll have a post on that before too long. But I'm more excited to talk about what I just finished brewing.

This was hands down the longest brew day I've ever had. From heating up the strike water to pitching the yeast was just shy of seven hours. "What could take so long?" one might ask. A 22%ABV beer. That's what took so long.

In much the same vain as Sam Adams Utopias or the Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, I've often wondered about making a beer of insane gravity. After doing tons of research, careful planning and recipe design, I decided to brew it today. This more of a clone of Samuel Adams Utopias than anything else. I intend the end result to drink more like port than like beer.

Some of these ideas are not my own, so please don't think I'm the one who came up with a lot of this stuff. I rather read about other people's experience trying to do this, read about their successes and failures, and tried to come up with a plan based on that.

The most important thing in making a beer of this magnitude is yeast health and a strong fermentation. Most yeast stop fermenting in environments that have too much alcohol. It's also quite easy to underpitch into something of this magnitude, or to over stress the yeast. All of these things could end up in under-attenuation.

Also how do you mash that much freaking grain without having 30 gallons of water to boil down? Well allow me to explain.

I'm making a six gallon batch. I figured after trub loss and having a crap ton of yeast that should yield me with around five gallons of finished product. I made this beer with a whopping 31 pounds of grain. Two-Row, Munich 10L, Caramunich 1, 60L Crystal, and Smoked Malt. Then it will get doses of honey, maple syrup and table sugar... but that's for later.

Here's my recipe:

Epik Epikness

15lbs. American 2-Row
10lbs. Munich 10L
2lbs. Smoked Malt (Rauch)
2lbs. American 60L Crystal
2lbs. Caramunich 1 (33L)

2lbs. Honey
2lbs. Table Sugar
2lbs. Maple Syrup

1.5 oz. Medium Toast Oak Cubes - soaked in Apple Brandy
1.5oz. Medium Toast Oak Cubes - soaked in Malbec

5oz. Target Hops 8.6%AA - First Wort Hop Boil #1
2oz. Target Hops 8.6%AA - First Wort Hop Boil #2

Yeast WLP099 - Super High Gravity
Nottingham - Dry

I first mashed the 15lbs. of 2-Row at 145 for one and a half hours. I yielded about 2 gallons of 1.072 runnings. I then batch sparged and collected 3 gallons of 1.040 runnings. The runnings were then heated to 156 degrees which I then used to mash the remaining 17lbs. of grain. The mash temp settled at 145 degrees, held for 1 hour.

I then collected somewhere around 4.5 gallons of 1.107 runnings. While I was collecting these I added the 5oz. of target hops and began to boil.

I batch sparged this second round of grains and collected runnings of 1.060. These got a FWH addition of 2oz. Target, and then started the boil.

Both were boiled for one hour and got a hit of yeast nutrient and whirlfloc. The higher gravity kettle went down to roughly 4 gallons of 1.115 wort. The second kettle went down to 2.5 gallons of 1.072 wort. I was surprised at how little the larger kettle reduced in volume over the hour. I suppose that with more sugar to water ratio it had less to blow off and just didn't evaporate at it's usual rate.

While the larger kettle was still boiling I used a sieve to remove as much of the hop particulates as possible. I then put it strait into a sanitized bucket with an airtight lid.

The other one was crash chilled and whirlpooled, and then I aerated the ever-loving crap out of it. Into it I pitched all of the yeast, the two vials of WLP099, and the two packs of dry Nottingham (rehydrated of course).

The plan is to let this one ferment for 3 days. By that time the yeast in there should have reached the end of the growth period. At that time I intend to aerate the large gravity wort and put that strait into the fermenting beer. Then after high krausen is reached I will add the maple syrup, allow it to ferment then go in with the honey, and then finally the sugar. This should give me a S.G. overall of 1.170. Which is a shade lower than I was hoping so I may throw in a few pounds of DME.

Once my F.G. has been reached (I'm hoping for 1.022 or lower) I'll rack the beer to a glass carboy with the oak chips where it will age for at least six months... probably a year.

May/16/2011 - Brewed.
May/19/2011 - Higher gravity portion added to lower gravity portion.
June/3/2011 - Racked to secondary with oak cubes for bulk aging.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Belgian Table Bier - Pre-tasting

I just got around to bottling this one. It finished out at 1.011. Which puts the ABV at 4.8%. I had about one bomber's worth left when I ran completely out of bottles. Being one not to want to waste beer, I decided to do a tasting on it. But before we get into that here's some info on the importance of carbonation in tasting beer.

Did you know that humans cannot actually smell liquid? Rather we smell the gas coming off of the liquid. Think about it. Have you ever opened your fermenter at high krausen and tried to take a big whiff? I have, and it's intense. And then have you opened a fermenter to smell it once activity has died down and the yeast is dropping out of suspension? It can be hard to smell much of anything.

So why is all of this important? Because 85% of taste is actually smell. I'm sure we've all seen (or done it ourselves) people swirling wine. They're doing that to release gas so that they can smell the wine better and therefore taste it better.

Now with us beer nerds we don't need to swirl. We have a torrent of CO2 coming out of the beer carrying beautiful flavors and aroma a long with it. The reason I mention all of this is because this will be an incomplete tasting as I don't have any c02 to help me out. So give me a couple weeks... but here we go... also since it's uncarbed I'm not even bothering with mouthfeel.

Belgian Table Bier

Appearance - A nice medium brown. When held up to the light the highlights are an amberish color. Despite not being carbed there is still a tiny bit of CO2 escaping to form a tight ring around the top.

Aroma - After a vigorous swirl...... The first thing is green apple. Followed immediately with hints of toasted bread then chocolate. There's a bit of spice followed by a great whiff of the brewer's gold hops. If you've never used them they're fantastic. Earthy and a touch spicy with bits of black currant.

Taste - Even not carbonated this beer has a lot going on. At first I get a touch of roasted quality. It's followed with apple and spice. At the back there's a combination of earthy/black currant/chocolate. All with an assertive, but very smooth bitterness (thank you first wort hops).

Overall - I'm looking forward to drinking this beer fully carbed. For a table beer there is a lot going on.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nelson Sauvin Saison - Second Tasting

I keep meaning to get to a formal tasting of this mild, but I can't stop drinking this saison. In fact I only have 10 bombers and a handful of 12oz. bottles left. So I figured I'd better do another tasting.
Plus the hop character is quickly dropping out, and this beer is somewhat hop focused.

Appearance - Pours beautiful rocky head of tight bottles that just doesn't quit. After about five minutes it drops into a nice ring of lace. The beautiful golden color made me dub this beer "Lapin d'Or" which is French for "Golden Rabbit".

Aroma - The intensity of those Nelson Sauvin hops has died down considerably. The aromas of over ripe pineapples and passion fruit is still there, but not nearly as assertive. More spice comes through, as does some nice notes of lemon peel.

Taste - There's still that great impression of sweetness from the pils malt up front that's quickly washed out by the high carbonation. In the middle there's a lot of the same flavors as are in the aroma. The lemon peel character is definitely more assertive in the palate than I thought it would be, but not unpleasant at all. There's some great spice and those nice tropical fruit flavors as well.

Mouthfeel - Still what I expected it to be. The high carbonation makes the mouthfeel full, and the 3711 leaves some great silkiness. And of course the finish is long and dry, only more accentuated by the high carbonation.

Overall - This beer has really developed nicely. I think it's safe to say that it is now at it's prime. I don't want to hang on to it much longer as the hop profile will drop out too much. This is a very well balanced beer that's great for the summer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pizza Dough

Brewing has been a shade lax lately as I haven't had much free time. The dark mild I bottled recently is quite good, and I'll have notes for that soon. The Belgian Table beer is cold crashing as we speak, I intend to bottle it tomorrow.

But not all things fermented with yeast have to be beer. Aside from making tasty brews I also happen to be a pretty awesome cook. One of the things I love to make at home in particular is pizza. It's delicious, relatively simple to make and pretty inexpensive. However the thing that most home cooks get wrong is the pizza dough. A lot of people expect to make good homemade pizza from dough in a can or that Boboli premade stuff.... but it's just not possible. I've spent a lot of time working on making pizza dough and I've found that I don't have an exact "recipe" for it. Rather it's a process and something you have to have the right feel for.

So here's how it goes.

At least 8 hours before you want to make pizza (I prefer the night before) we have to make a starter.

I start with about a cup of warm water and a tablespoon of yeast. Stir them together and let it proof. Then add some flour. I don't know exactly how much, I just add flour until it looks like thin pancake batter. Then add a small pinch of sugar. Set this aside for at least 8 hours in a warm place. Or better yet overnight.

After it's set the starter will look like this.

The gluten in the flour will set and the starter will be a bit thicker. The next step is to proof another tablespoon of yeast in another cup of warm water, with another pinch of sugar.

No there are no grains going into the dough, I had just received an order from AHBS and hadn't put everything away yet. Once the yeast has proofed (about 10 minutes) add it into the starter.
Next I add in around two cups of bread flour and run it together in my stand mixer until everything is incorporated then add a healthy pinch of salt. Then add more flour in 1/2 cup at a time until the dough forms a ball. Set the stand mixer to low and let it run for 5 minutes. At this point the dough may or may not become too sticky. In this case it did and this is what it looks like.

As you can see the dough is sticking to the sides pretty heavily and the ball is not smooth. So I added about another 1/2 cup of flour and let it run until it becomes really smooth. Then let it knead on low for 5 minutes. Rest the dough for 5 minutes. Then knead for another 5 minutes.

I roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thick. I personally prefer it pretty thin, but this is how my wife prefers it. As far as what to cook it on I use a pizza pan with holes in it. The pizza cooks more evenly.
Put the dough on the pan then sauce. For my homemade sauce I use a can of tomato puree, a little garlic and some fresh basil and oregano. Don't over sauce it, otherwise it will be soggy, just a nice smooth layer.

I put the toppings over the sauce instead of on the cheese, this keeps them from drying out. Today it's fresh spinach and roasted chicken. Cheese can be your choice. I personally like aged provolone, but my wife really likes mozzarella. You don't want to drown it in cheese, just a good even light sprinkle. Then I finish it with a few fresh basil leaves on top.

The real trick to cooking the pizza right is to do it hot and fast. When you go to a great pizza place that's making pizza in stone ovens they're cooking it HOT. Usually upwards of 800 degrees. Now my oven doesn't go that hot, but it can do 550. So don't be afraid to crank your oven up as high as it will go. The high heat lightly chars the crust, and gets it crispy on the outside and gets the cheese slightly charred as well.

Bake the pizza on the bottom rack. It usually takes me around 8 - 10 minutes.

If your at a loss on what to put on your pizza my all time favorite is pepperoni and peperoncinis. Skip the pepperoni in a non-refrigerated bag and hit up your local grocer's deli counter. Ask them to slice it as thin as possible. Trust me it's worth it.

Another great combo is salami, kalamata olives and ricotta cheese. For a great meat free option make some oven roasted tomatoes and add goat cheese and arugula.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Belgian Table Beer - Brew Date: 3/29/11

So "Threat Level Midnight" has been put on hold for a few more days. The only reason being that I needed to make a huge starter for such a massive batch. So instead of that I decided to make a Belgian Table Beer; and use the yeast cake from that to pitch the stout onto. The recipe is pretty simple. It's mostly Belgian Pils with a few pounds of wheat. I added a small amount of Special B. for color, along with some 60L Crystal and then just a dash of chocolate malt.

The hops are only Brewer's Gold as FWH addition and then a flameout addition. I'm shooting for a beer with good drinkability, not huge alcohol, a pleasant hop aroma with a strong yeast profile. It's fermented with Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes.


60 minute mash at 151 degrees

5lbs. Belgian Pils
3lbs. White Wheat Malt
8oz. American 60L Crystal Malt
4oz. Special B. Malt
2oz. Chocolate Malt

1oz. Brewer's Gold Hops 8%AA FWH
1oz. Brewers Gold Hops 8%AA Flameout

3522 Belgian Ardennes Yeast

Monday, March 14, 2011

Threat Level Midnight

So my birthday is next Saturday and I wanted to brew something fun. I've had plans for a Belgian inspired Imperial Russian Stout. I want to do something inspired by Jolly Pumpkin's Madrugada Obscura. So what I'm planning on doing is brewing a normal IRS that I made once before, ferment it with Belgian Ardennes and then after primary fermentation is complete throw in some Roeselare Blend for some souring. I plan to let it bulk age and mature for 6 months before bottling.

Here's the rundown.

Threat Level Midnight
Belgian Imperial Stout

O.G. 1.089
F.G. 1.015
Anticipated ABV: 9.9%
IBUs: 53

14lbs. Continental Pils
8oz. Roasted Barley
8oz. Chocolate Malt
8oz. Crystal Malt 60L
4oz. Crystal Malt 20L
4oz. Special B 180L

1oz. Target 8%AA - First Wort Hop
2oz. Brewers Gold 8%AA - 60 Min.

Wyeast Belgian Ardennes - 3522 - The biggest starter EVAR!
Wyeast Roeselare Blend - Secondary

Monday, March 7, 2011

Born to be Mild

I've been on a kick of sessionable beers as of late. The Nelson Sauvin Saison clocked in just a bit over 5% ABV. This guy is a shade over 3%. The base is American two-row with some 60L Crystal and Chocolate Malt. There's no hops in the boil. Just 1oz. of Target as a first wort hop. Despite the low ABV this is going to be a very flavorful beer.

It made for an extremely easy brew day. Hit all of my temps on the button and the O.G. was just where I expected it to be.

Born to be Mild
American Dark Mild Ale

5 Gallons
O.G. 1.032
IBUs 22


5lbs. American 2-Row
8oz. Chocolate Malt
8oz. 60L American Crystal

1 oz. Target 8% AA - first wort hop addition

Dry Nottingham

Mashed at 152 for an hour. Collected just a shade over 5 gallons of wort. Add hops in while collecting first runnings. Only boiled for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nelson Sauvin Saison - First Tasting

I should say that this actually is the third tasting, but I just got internet hooked up in my new house so... deal with it. The recipe for this can be found here.

I'll start off by saying that this is a really solid beer. I opted not to do any souring. However I did decide to dry hop for 7 days with the Nelson Sauvin hops. The hops are really assertive, a touch overwhelming actually. There's lots of over ripe pineapple with fresh passion fruit in the nose, all from the hops. I think these hops would be great in something that is something more straight forward and less complex... like a pale ale or IPA. Anyway... here's the rundown.

Appearance - Golden orangish in color with pale straw highlights. The head poured rocky and chunky, just like you would expect in a saison. It's nice and cloudy, which is how I prefer my saisons. I don't really like them to be crystal clear. Leaves some bad ass lacing.

Nose - Even though the hops are dominant, the first thing I get is a candy sweetness (from the pilsner malt). That really helps to accent the hop profile. Over ripe pineapple followed by mangos and passion fruit. Behind that is a bit of spice, lemon peel then orange, finished with a slight breadiness (from the two - row).

Mouthfeel - I carbed this up to a shade over 3 volumes (3.2 actually) so it's very spritzy and full. The bubbles are very fine which just adds to the sprity mouthfeel. It has a nice bit of silkiness too, I find that you get this a lot with that Wyeast 3711 French Saison.

Taste - I'm going to start with the finish on this one... which is long and dry. That's actually my favorite thing about a good saison, a long and dry finish. At first you get that impression of candy sweetness. In the middle there's a lot of the same that you get in the nose, but in different order. The spiciness is first followed by lemon and orange. The passion fruit comes next followed by the hop bitterness which is just enough to hold the beer up and keep it in balance. Right at the back you get the pineapple and mango then that candy sweetness impression that fades into the long finish.

Overall - This beer is solid. I can't say that I like it any more or less than my regular saison. It's just much different. I think that the dry hops are just a little too much, but if I let it set for about 2 months it should come out just right.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Solera Project

Move day is tomorrow. Once I get settled I'm looking to procure a barrel from one of Texas' many wineries and then have a massive brew day to fill it up. I'd like to do it as a solera, get my hands on a couple smaller barrels and remove/blend/fill every six months to a year. What I don't know is exactly what style to brew. Whatever barrel I manage to get my hands on I'm hoping for it to be neutral oak, so I don't need it to be a beer that can stand up to massive oak character.

The few styles I have in mind are; flanders red, Belgian golden strong, Belgian stout, Tripel, Saison (possibly a dark saison) or a Wheatwine (like a barleywine but with a crapload of wheat).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Supply Lines are meant to be kept full.

I haven't got much in the way of brewing related material at the moment as I'm in the midst of moving to San Antonio.

I bottled the dry hopped saison. Those hops are very intense. They remind me of amarillo sans the grapefruit. Extremely intense but more focused on passion fruit and mango instead of citrus. I'm doing this one bottle conditioned and carbing it to 3 volumes. The higher amounts of Co2 help with the overall dry impression of the beer.

Anyway. Since I'm moving the most important thing to do is to make sure all of my beer and brewing gear is packed and accounted for. I got the majority of my beer together. There's still some in the beer fridge and no kegs are shown. But here's a picture of the supply line.

Beautiful isn't it?

Once I get settled in San Antonio I'll be brewing a mild. And I'll have more notes on this one.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nelson Sauvin Saison

A little over a week ago I brewed this saison with nelson sauvin hops. Today I took a gravity reading/tasting. Here are the results.

O.G. 1.050
S.G. 1.010
Apparent Attenuation 80%

Tasting Notes: Aroma is very fruity. Lots of orange and lemon. Nice subtle spiciness. Taste is fruity and spicy. Very dry... but a very full and silky mouthfeel. All of the things you'd expect from the awesome Wyeast 3711 French Saison. The hop bitterness is mild. There's a tad of nice hop flavor. Noble character from the willamette... just a smidge. I'm getting some passion fruit as well. That can only be the NV hops.

I added 1 oz. of NV hops for dry hopping. Going to leave those in there for 1 week. I'm hoping the gravity will drop a shade too in that time. I think it may be nice with a little acidity. I'm considering make a sour mash, boiling it to sterilize then adding it into the saison or possibly throwing in some bugs.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

First Tasting: Hairy Little Monster

Not too long ago I brewed this funky rye hop bomb. And I'm drinking the first bottle now.

Appearance - Golden reddish in color. Pours a creamy frothy white head. You can't tell it from the picture because I accidentally over - poured and the foam went over the side.

Aroma - Nice noble hop notes, but I could use more. I probably should have dry hopped... oh well. Smokey and in a big way. There's no smoke malt in this beer, that's a total function of the brett l. Hints of sour cherry and some pepperiness (from the rye).

Taste - Big rye spiciness. There is some definite bitterness to it, but not from the hops so much as it is carbonation astringency. That malt is toasty as well... almost bready. I'm also getting the smokiness that was in the nose, and in a big way.

Mouthfeel - Very VERY full for such a dry beer. I'm not sure exactly what that's a function of... but I like it.

Overall - I think this ended up being a successful beer and pretty close to what I was hoping to achieve; which is a low gravity ale with tons of flavor. However I think that the brett character could stand to be more restrained, maybe use it as a later fermenter and not during primary along side a sacch. strain like I did. I also think I nice dosage of dry hopping would really be neat.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

When breweries do nice things...

My favorite Texas brewery is hands down Real Ale Brewing Co. in Blanco Texas. These guys don't make a bad beer. One of their more notorious brews is Sisyphus. It's an awesome barleywine that's not too Americanized. Most American barleywines are just a stones throw from an Imperial IPA, but these guys do it right.

Back in December I got word from a friend that they would be giving away 5 gallon portions of the late runnings to homebrewers. I couldn't make it down there due to work, but my brother was on break from college so I sent him to pick some up for me.

The runnings were at 1.055. I decided to hop it like a pale ale. After the boil the gravity was 1.062.

Here's my hop schedule.

IBUs 43

1 oz. Galena 30 minutes
1 oz. Willamette 20 minutes
1 oz. Cascade 20 minutes
1 oz. Willamette 10 minutes
1 oz. Willamette 0 minutes

The late hop schedule kept the bitterness smooth with the flavors bright. I fermented it with dry Nottingham yeast. The one thing I didn't initially think about was that their mash profile was for a barleywine, so I ended up with something sweeter than I intended. The F.G. was 1.018.

I fermented cool at 66 degrees to keep the alcohols warm and smooth while still allowing for some ester production. I carbonated to 2.25 volumes.

Over all this is a very nice and drinkable beer. While it is a tad on the sweet side the alcohols are warm enough, and the hops bright enough, to keep it balanced. It's really great when breweries give back.

Nelson Sauvin Saison

I've never brewed with them before, but I got my hands on some Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand. I was interested in them because the flavor has been described as passion fruit and mangoes. I thought it would be a nice flavor for a pale ale, but a more interesting Saison... honestly I'm just a total whore for Saisons.

The grist for this is pretty straight forward. Lots of Belgian Pils. I add a little two-row for some breadiness. Followed by a touch of wheat. And then some Special B Crystal for a nice golden color. I also added some sugar to help dry this sucker out.

For the hops I used the Nelson Sauvin and a little Willamette. I did only late hop additions to keep the flavors bright and fresh, and then I intend to dry hop with a little more of the NV hops.

I don't know about everyone else but I prefer a saison to be sessionable. If you've never had Jolly Pumpkin's Bam Biere, you should give it a try. It's only 4.6% ABV but tons of flavor. Most commercial examples today are pretty high in alcohol and not that traditional to the style.

For the yeast this beer currently chugging away with some Wyeast 3711 French Saison. This is my go to saison yeast. It doesn't sputter out at 1.020 like most saison yeasts do. Plus the flavor profile is great. The mouth-feel is somewhat silky, with nice pepperiness and slight fruitiness. I highly recommend using open fermentation to allow the yeast flavors to develop... also it makes one of the chunkiest, funkiest krausens I've ever seen.


6.5 Gallons
76% Efficiency
O.G. 1.050
F.G. ????
ABV ??%
Color 7 SRM
15 IBUs

Malts and Fermentables

5lbs. Belgian Pils
3lbs. American 2-Row
2lbs. White Wheat Malt
1lb. Table Sugar
.25lbs Special B Malt 180L


1 oz. Willamette Hops 5.5%AA 20 minutes
0.5 oz. Nelson Sauvin Hops 12.4% AA 10 minutes
0.5 oz. Nelson Sauvin Hops 12.4% AA 5 minutes
1 oz. Nelson Sauvin Hops 12.4%AA Dry Hop - 7 days


Wyeast 3711 French Saison 750ml Starter

I would like this beer to have some acidity (as is the style), so I'm considering finishing it out with a bit of Brett L.

Hair Little Monster - Funky Rye Hop Bomb

What I wanted to make was something light and sessionable with tons of flavor. My grist was a lot of two row and malted rye, a touch of wheat and some 60L crystal malt. I hopped it with only late hop additions to keep the bitterness low but the hop flavor big. For the hops I used mostly Willamette and some Target.

The fermentation was done by pitching both Dry Nottingham yeast and Brettanomyces Lambicus (for tha funk).


O.G. 1.050
F.G. 1.008
5.6% ABV
Color: 8 SRM
19.1 IBUs
73% Efficiency

6.5 lbs. American 2-Row
4.25 lbs. Malted Rye
.75lbs. American Crystal 60L
.5 lbs. White Wheat Malt

1 oz. Target Hops 8.6%AA 20 Minutes
1 oz. Willamette Hops 5.5%AA 10 Minutes
1 oz. Willamette Hops 5.5%AA 5 Minutes
1 oz. Willamette Hops 5.5%AA 1 Minutes

Dry Nottingham
Brettanomyces Lambicus

Mash at 149 for 90 minutes. 75 minute boil. Collected 5.5 gallons of wort. Ferment relatively cool at 66 degrees for 15 days. The brett can take some time to clean up and finish drying it out. Cold crash for 4 days before bottling. Carbonated to 2.5 volumes. Tasting notes to come.

Brewed on January 14 2011.
Bottled on February 2 2011

Joie de Vivre - Soured Saison

This is another beer I brewed not too long ago for a friends wedding. I have the advantage of living in a house with a peach tree in the front yard. And when life gives you peaches... you ferment them. Earlier in the year I made a peach saison that was very nice and refreshing but somewhat lacking. For this batch I decided to sour it a little bit. I wanted to control the souring as much as possible so I went with a partially soured mash, in lieu of adding bugs.

This beer ended up being quite exceptional. The first bottles I opened were very funky on the nose... smelled a lot like vomit. However three months later, by the time the wedding rolled around, the smell had been down-graded (to as the guests called it) "feet". I saved a few bottles for myself and as they aged (6 months was perfect) the fruit in the beer came out quite well and the lactic smell degraded immensely. The acidity of the souring accentuates the fruit in a big way. The taste is very fruity without being sweet, in fact this is a very dry beer.

The grist is primarily Belgian pilsner malt to provide a sense of sweetness with a little bit of Vienna malt to add some body and then torrified wheat to fill out the body. The 40L crystal is to add a little color.

For the fruit I used some of my homegrown peaches that I blended into a puree and then froze. I threw those into the wort at flameout (great way to help chill the wort). And then after primary fermentation I added some under-ripe plums. I went with under ripe to add some tartness.

I went with two different yeasts. The WLP 530 is for the nice fruitiness and spiciness, and then saison is for the great silky mouthfeel. Plus the 3711 is a fast fermenter.

I wanted to keep the sour to a minimum. As dry as this beer is, too much souring could be overwhelming.

Here's the recipe.

9lbs. Belgian Pils
2 lbs. Vienna Malt
1 lb. Torrified Wheat
8oz. C-40L

2 oz. Willamette 5.5%AA - 45min.

6.8 lbs. Homemade Peach Puree
5 lbs. Underipe Plums

Sour - 1 lb. belgian pils 1 lb. Light LME.

The day before brew day prepare the sour by adding the LME to 2 quarts of water and heat to 130 degrees. Pour the water in a bucket and add the 1lb. of pils. Do everything you can to keep this as warm as possible. In the central Texas summer heat I just left it outside, but you can wrap it in a heating pad too. Within 24 hours it should smell like satan's anus.

Mash the grains at 152 with 4.25 gallons of water, along with the sour. This may seem like a high mash temperature for a saison, but the fruit in this beer is 100% fermentable and will be enough to dry it out. Do a 10 minute 168 degree mash out, then batch sparge with 4.5 gallons of water.

Boil for 90 minutes to drive off the DMS. At the end of the boil add the frozen peach puree.

I pitched a 750ml starter of WLP530 Abbey Ale and a vial of Wyeast 3711 French Saison (love this yeast). Ferment for 2 days at 68 then ramp up to 75 over the course of four days. Once the krausen has dropped add the plums to the fermenter and let set for two weeks. Final gravity for me was 1.005. Rack and condition to 3 volumes.