Petite Saison with Tart Cherries

>> Sunday, August 02, 2015

I wanted to try out the Wyeast 3031-PC Saison-Brett Blend, so today I'm brewing a Petite Saison that will get around 7 pounds of my homegrown tart cherries in the secondary. I really enjoy Saisons and other Farmhouse Ales. Usually I make my Saisons fairly high gravity, but the goal with this one is to come in a bit more session-able. The addition of the tart cherries will probably also make it somewhat kriek-like. This beer won't get any lactobacillus or pediococcus, so the only souring will come from the tart cherries.

Wyeast describes 3031 as follows:
Beer Styles: Saison, Belgian Specialty Ales, American-style Sour & Wild Beer, Strong Golden Ale
Profile: A blend of Saison yeast and Brettanomyces creates a dry and complex ale. Classic earthy and spicy farmhouse character meets tropical and stone fruit esters; aging brings elevated Brett flavor. Expect high attenuation with this blend.

Alc. Tolerance          12% ABV
Flocculation              low
Attenuation               80-90%
Temp. Range             65-80°F (18-27°C)
Based on the ferm temp range, I'd guess this is the 3711 French Saison strain blended with one of Wyeast's Brett strains.

Here's the recipe I came up with. I want this beer to finish dry, but not too thin, so I'm going with a step mash. Also adding some Chit Malt for some starch so that the brett will have something to chew on for a while. Hops-wise I'm shooting for low bitterness with a touch of flavor and aroma. I've used the Golden Naked Oats in a Saison before, and I really liked the berry/nutty character it added.

5.5# German Pils
1.25# Chit Malt
1.0# Flaked Rye
0.5# Golden Naked Oats
7g CTZ - 30 min
14g Citra - 5 min
3031 PC Saison Brett Blend
Yeast Nutrient
7.0# Tart cherries in secondary

Target O.G. 1.053

Mash at 149F for 15 min, raise to 155F for remainder of mash. I added 2.5ml of phosphoric acid to bring the mash pH to 5.39.

Chill to 65F, then let free-rise to 80F.

Nothing too scientific this time. I used 6 gallons of carbon filtered tap water cuht with 3 gallons of RO water. 3 gallons in the mash, sparged to 6.5 gallons pre-boil volume.

Brewing Notes
No real issues, But I did forget to take my OG before pitching yeast. I was trying to hurry and wrap things up so I could go drop off my entries for the Beehive Brew-off and totally forgot. I also decided to skip O2...just an experiment to see what happens with the brett character (some have reported more funk when the yeast are stressed).

Update 8/13/2015
Primary fermentation seemed to have finished up, so I racked onto 7# of homegrown tart cherries yesterday. Cherries had been stored in the freezer then thawed and sanitized with 1/8 teaspoon of potassium metabisulfite dissolved in 1/4 cup RO water. This sat overnight then beer was racked onto the cherries in the morning. I mashed the cherries as much as I could, but there were still some whole ones.
Update 8/26/2015
Pulled a sample today and I'm really liking this beer. The "Saison" character is really nice.  Esters are there and blend very well with the tart cherry character. There's a light spiciness that's noticeable, but subtle and very complimentary. Brett character is also there but very balanced. I'm interested to see how this changes over time. The tart cherries dropped the pH to 3.68 so it's a nice level of acidity especially since it doesn't have any lactic acid producing bacteria. I can't wait to get this in the bottle and carb'd up. This beer will definitely be in my regular rotation when I have tart cherries on hand.


2015 American Imperial IPA

>> Sunday, July 05, 2015

I have a whole bunch of hops in my freezer so it's time to use a bunch an brew an Imperial IPA. The hop schedule on this beer was inspired by my first attempt at brewing a sour IPA. It didn't sour up much but I really enjoyed the hop character and it took a silver medal at a comp last year. This one isn't exactly the same, but it's similar. One thing I've really liked in some of the more recent commercial IPAs is the lowering of IBU's. For a while there it seemed like everyone was doing everything they could to assault your palate with super high IBU IPAs. This IPA should have a firm bitterness, but it won't be too crazy.

This is the first time that I've ever tried using corn sugar in an IPA. The intent is to help dry the beer out, resulting in a more refreshing and drinkable beer. Also, I'm not using any crystal malts. Here's the recipe as I'm making it:

10.0 # Pearl Malt
2.0 # Crisp Dark Munich 20L
0.75# Dextrose
7.0g Magnum (60 min)
7.0g Columbus (20 min)
7.0g Mosaic (20 min)
7.0g Amarillo (20 min)
14g Columbus (1 min)
14g Mosaic (1 min)
7g Cascade (1 min)
28g Cascade (first hop stand, 165F for 30 min)
21g Amarillo (first hop stand, 165F for 30 min)
14g Citra (first hop stand, 165F for 30 min)
14g Mosaic (second hop stand, 140F for 30 min)
14g Citra (second hop stand, 140F for 30 min)
Yeast Nutrient
Vermont IPA Yeast (GY054)
28g Amarillo (Dry hop)
28g Citra (Dry hop)
28g Mosaic (Dry hop)

Mash at 148.5F for 60 min, 90 min boil, ferment at 68F, dry hop after primary fermentation.

Brewing Notes
Everything seemed to go well with this beer. I hit the anticipated OG exactly at 1.078.

Update 7/6/2015
Forgot to mention yesterday, I put the fermenter in my ferm chamber overnight and pitched the yeast this morning after aerating. It's starting to show signs of fermentation this evening.

Update 7/7/2015
Krausen is pushing up close to the airlock, so I hooked up a blow-off hose just in case.

Update 7/13/2015
Added the dry hops today.

Update 7/20/2015
I kegged this beer today with a bit of gelatin for fining. This beer smells amazing with tons of citrus, tropical fruit, pine and resin. Bitterness is there, but is not over the top. I can't wait for this beer to carb up so those tiny bubbles can release their hoppy goodness.

Update 7/26/2015
I pulled a sample off the tap today. It's really good, but I feel like a lot of the hop flavor and aroma dropped out. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have used gelatin for fining.  It has some great clarity, but It's definitely lost some hop character.    

Update 8/4/2015
So I'm definitely disappointed with the way this beer turned out. Way too much hop character dropped out. It's much closer to a boring version of an American pale ale than an IPA.  I'll prob try this again with a couple changes. First, reduce the corn sugar a bit. Second, increase IBUs a bit. Last, don't worry about haze and skip the gelatin. 

Update 8/7/2015
I took a growler of this to a Grace Potter concert at Deer Valley the other day. It was way more hoppy than when I last tried it. This beer is proving to be a bit of an enigma. I think I'll still try the changes I proposed on 8/4, but this beer is more drinkable than I originally thought.


Watermelon Wheat 2015

>> Sunday, June 28, 2015

Time for another brew session. Today I'm brewing what I consider to be a quintessential summertime beer, Watermelon Wheat. You do have to really like watermelon to enjoy this beer, and I do. The watermelon really comes through in this beer in both the flavor and aroma. I haven't been able to figure out why, but this beer tends to age fairly well and the fragrant watermelon almost takes on a floral perfume-like quality with age.

I haven't made this beer in a long time, but it's always been a crowd pleaser. Usually I wait to brew this beer until late summer when the Green River Melons folks have started showing up at the local Farmers Market. It's still a bit early for that, but Sam's Club had seedless melons for $4 so I decided to pick a couple up. These early season melons tend to be hit or miss, but fortunately the ones I picked up turned out to be really good.

To prepare the fruit, a few days before brewday, I diced up the meat and used a potato masher to puree the melon. This was then poured through a strainer with the juice going into one container and the pulp into another. Both containers went into the freezer. Freezing the pulp will help break down the cell walls allowing us to extract a bit more juice. Freezing the juice just keeps it from going bad before we use it in secondary. I'll also be treating the juice with some potassium metabisulfite before adding it to secondary. This helps ensure we don't get any unexpected critters into the secondary.

For those that have never made a watermelon beer before, don't expect this beer to turn out pink. The red part of the melon drops out with the yeast, so you'll be left with a straw colored wheat beer.

I changed up a couple things this time, primarily the hops. I've been wanting to try Huell Melon hops for a while and based on the description, I think they'll work well in this beer.

6 lbs 8.0 oz Fruit - Watermelon
6 lbs Rahr Pale 2-Row
4 lbs White Wheat Malt
8.5g Columbus (60 min)
28g Huell Melon Hops (5 min)
Rice hulls
1 Pkgs US-05

Don't forget the rice hulls in the mash (helps avoid a stuck sparge). Mash at 152F for 1 hour, 90 minute boil, ferment at 62F

Add fruit to secondary

Brewing Notes
No issues with the brew session. Fermenter is currently in the ferm chamber chilling.

Update 7/9/2015
I thawed out the watermelon juice/pulp overnight and put it into the secondary today. I also added 1/8 teaspoon of potassium metabisulfite dissolved into 1/4 cup RO water. This should help kill off any wild bugs that could have made it into the juice. This will sit overnight with a 1 gallon paint strainer bag stretched over the mouth (keeps bugs out while letting the juice off-gas). I'll rack the beer into the juice tomorrow. Oh and I ended up with about 1.5 gallons of juice.

Update 7/10/2015
Racked to secondary this morning. Believe it or not this pink beer will end up straw colored.
Update 7/20/2015
I started cold crashing this beer over the weekend to get the yeast and watermelon to drop. So far it's clearing up nicely but it still has a touch of pink. I'll let it continue to chill throughout the week before racking to a keg.


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