Dark Saison 2014

>> Sunday, November 30, 2014

I ran to one of my local brew shops the other day to pick up some gas tubing for an upgrade I'm working on (nitro teaser) and I figured I'd pick up one of Wyeast's PC offerings for the quarter. I decided to go with 3726 Farmhouse and brew up a dark saison of sorts. Wyeast's desscription is as follows:

Wyeast 3726-PC Farmhouse Ale™
Beer Styles: Saison, Biere de Garde, Belgian Blonde Ale, Belgian Pale Ale, Belgian Golden Strong Ale
Profile: This strain produces complex esters balanced with earthy/spicy notes. Slightly tart and dry with a peppery finish. A perfect strain for farmhouse ales and saisons.
Alc. Tolerance           12% ABV
Flocculation              medium
Attenuation               74-79%
Temp. Range             70-84°F (21-29°C)
I'm using a fairly simple grain bill on this brew but I am incorporating some concord grape juice into this recipe. I'm hoping it will add some fruity complexity, but I have to admit I've never brewed with grape juice. Winemakers kind of frown on concord grapes, so I'm kind of rolling the dice on this one. This beer is probably going to turn out awesome...or gross. I'll get some tannins from the grape juice so I'm using debittered malt to try to get color while minimizing any perceived astringency. I've also never used Nelson Sauvin hops, but they are supposed to contribute grape and berry flavors. Here's the recipe as I'm making it:

7.0# Dingmans Pilsner Malt
1.0# Simpsons Golden Naked Oats
6.0 oz Castle De-bittered Malt
4.0 oz Crystal 10
1.0# D-180 Belgian Candi Syrup (0 min)
35g US Goldings (60 Min)
14g Nelson Sauvin (10 min)
2.5g chamomile (5 min)
14g Nelson Sauvin (Whirlpool)
Yeast Nutrient

96oz of Welch's Farmers Pick Concorde Grape Juice (preservative free) added halfway through fermentation (gravity should be around 1.031).

Mash at 148F, 90 minute boil, start fermentation at 68F then raise temps to 80F over several days.

Update 12/2/2014
Gravity had dropped to almost 1.020 by the time I got home from work today. I was hoping to catch it around 1.030. The krausen is still about two inches deep so I went ahead and carefully added the grape juice.

Update 12/3/2014
Fermentation is very active after adding the juice. It had slowed a bit before adding the grape juice yesterday.

Update 1/7/2015
I pulled a little sample today. This beer is very fruity with a definite concord grape aroma. The flavor is much more subdued. It's not horrible but I can't quite decide if I like it. I'm going to try to get it bottled this weekend so I'll see how it is once it's carb'd up.

Update 3/27/2015
I entered this in a club competition (Category 23 - Specialty Beer) and it scored well. I tend to be my own worst critic. Knowing that this beer has Concord grape juice in it, I can easily identify it in both the flavor and aroma, but going in blind (I described it as a dark saison on fruit), nobody else seemed to be able to identify the fruitiness came from Concord grapes. It's a good easy drinker, but I get a jammy/jelly component. If I did it again I'd cut back on the juice a little bit.