Funky Saison 06/2012

>> Thursday, June 28, 2012

Today I'm brewing up another version of the Saison I brewed back on 5/27/2012.  The only thing I'm doing differently with this batch is the yeast...I'm doing a 100% brett fermentation.  The yeast I chose to use is WLP644 Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois from White Labs.  This one is a Platinum Series yeast and is only available in May and June for 2012.  The description from White Labs is:

This Belgian strain, used traditionally for 100% Brettanomyces fermentations, produces a slightly tart beer with delicate characteristics of mango and pineapple. Can also be used to produce effervescence when bottle-conditioning.
Optimal Temp: 70-85F
Flocculation: Low
Attenuation: 85%+
Alcohol Tolerance: Medium-High

 I'll be using the same grain bill, mash profile, hop schedule, etc. as the first Saison.  The recommended fermentation range for WLP644 is a little bit higher than 3711.  I'll start out near the cooler end of the range then ramp it to the higher end of the range.  WLP644 attenuates well so it should be able to dry out the Saison at least as well as 3711.  The cell count on brett strains is a bit lower since they're usually intended for secondary fermentation.  I made a 1L yeast starter on my stir plate in order to up the cell count.  It's still slightly underpitched which is good for Belgian styles where you're trying to get a lot of character out of the yeast.  It'll be cool to do a side by side comparison with these two beers to see how they differ despite almost everything being the same.

9.0 # Weyermann Pilsner Malt
3.0 # Briess White Wheat Malt
0.5 # Weyermann Vienna Malt
0.25 # Weyermann Acidulated Malt
1.0 # Belgian Candi Sugar (5 minutes)
1.75 oz Styrian Goldings (60 minutes)
2 oz Saaz (5 minutes)
0.25 t Black Pepper, coarsely crushed (5 minutes)
0.25 t Coriander, coarsely crushed (5 minutes)
0.25 t Bitter Orange Peel (5 minutes)
Zest from a navel orange (5 minutes)
White Labs WLP644 Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois

Mash at 147F for 90 minutes, 90 minute boil, start fermentation at 72F then raise to 85F over a couple days.

Brewing Notes
My pre-boil gravity was just a hair off from the first Saison.   I accidentally ran off a little too much in the first one, so this might explain why it was a bit more diluted.  There was a bit more difference in the post-boil gravity and I attribute that to the fact that I had a boil over on the first one right after I added my candi sugar...which likely means I lost some of the sugars.

Fermentation Notes
Wow, this thing took off!  I made a one liter starter Friday afternoon and pitched it Sunday afternoon and it had a huge krausen by Monday evening.  I've been bumping up the temp a couple degrees per day.  The krausen dropped most of the way by yesterday (6/27) and I bumped it up to 85F (it took most of the day to ramp up).  I'd been fermenting with the lid off in my ferm chamber and just added the lid and airlock today.  It smells awesome, definitely some pineapple and other tropical fruit aromas in there.

Update 7/10/2012
The original refractometer reading on this brew was 19.2°P and as of today it's 8.5°P.  Using the Morebeer spreadsheet this translates to an O.G. 1.079 and a current F.G. of 1.007...nice and dry.  

Update 3/23/2013
I cracked one of these open last night and boy has it changed. It's really developed a nice brett character. The tropical fruit notes are much more subtle now. Dry but not thin, this is a really nice complex beer. I wish I'd saved more than I did.


Sloppy Seconds IPA

>> Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sloppy Seconds IPA

My freezer is full of leftover hops from past brew sessions.  Maybe it's because of the hop shortage from a few years ago, or my own frugality, or a combination of the two, but I couldn't bring myself to throw them out.  So today I'm doing a fun brew that will hopefully turn out well and likely be hard to replicate given the varying ages of the hops.  Because of all the leftover hops and the fact that I'm re-using yeast from our Big Brew event, I decided to go with Sloppy Seconds IPA for the name, (couldn't help it, my inner 14 year old thought it was funny).

The intent is for this to be a hop-focused west coast style IPA with as much hop flavor/aroma as these tired little hops can muster.  I'm also using some homegrown hops in my hopback to try to squeeze out a little more flavor/aroma. 

You'll notice all hop additions occur from the 30 minute mark on, which should give a nice smooth bitterness while emphasizing flavor/aroma.  Now I say should because some of these hops have been in my freezer for a while, so I'm sure they've lost some flavor/aroma over time.  I don't know how old some of these hops are so this brew is a little bit of a gamble.  

One important note, I smelled all the hops first to make sure they hadn't gone cheesy, picked up odors from the freezer, or anything else that would detract from the finished product.  I didn't detect any problems other than some of the really old ones had completely lost their aroma (I'm not using them).  Here's the recipe as I'm making it.

11.50 # Briess Pale 2 row
 1.00 # Briess Crystal 20L  
 0.75 # Briess Light Munich  
 0.75 # Briess Carapils  
 0.25 # Crisp Torrified Wheat  
 0.6 oz CTZ 30 min
 0.5 oz Chinook 30 min
 0.2 oz Simcoe 30 min
 2.4 oz Goldings, East Kent 15 min
 0.6 oz Cascade 15 min
 1.4 oz Liberty 5 min
 0.4 oz Fuggles 5 min
 5.2 pH Stabilizer
 WLP001 California Ale
3.0 oz Citra (hopback)

Mash at 153F for 60min.
90 minute boil
Ferment at 69F

Brewing Notes:
The brew day was fairly boil overs this time!  The only challenge was I opened a couple bags of homegrown hops and wasn't real thrilled with the aroma so I had my wife run to Salt City Brewing and pick up three ounces of Citra leaf hops for the hopback.

This IPA turned out very well.  It doesn't have quite as much hop flavor/aroma as I was hoping for, but it's a really good IPA in my opinion.  The Citra in the hop back seems to have contributed more aroma than flavor and the blend of the leftover hops give it a nice smooth bitterness.  I think I'll do this again with fresher hops and may even move the first additions back to the 20 or 15 minute mark.