Fruited Farmhouse Ale 2020

>> Friday, July 03, 2020

Today I'm brewing a Farmhouse Ale, which can be a hard style to define. When I think of a Farmhouse Ale, I think of things along the lines of traditional Saisons, which were lower ABV than a lot of modern examples. In my opinion Farmhouse Ales hit on the following points:
  • Expressive yeast character.
  • Overall rustic rather than refined character.
  • Despite the rustic character, it's still crisp and finishes dry and refreshing, and well balanced.
  • Usually highly carbonated; effervescent.
That still leaves quite a bit of room for interpretation and creativity which is one of the reasons that it's a fun style to brew. This is one I will most likely bottle rather than put on tap, as I'll want to cellar some and see how it developes over time. This will also be a low-ish ABV beer, so along the lines of a table-strength Saison. I've used the Saison Blend yeast before and really liked it's subtle "Belgian" character combined with a bit of Brett funk. Here's some info from Wyeast:
Species: Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. diastaticus & Brettanomyces blend
Profile: A blend of two saison strains 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.
Notes: This blend contains Wyeast yeast strains that have been classified as Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. diastaticus using rapid PCR analysis. These strains carry the STA1 gene, which is the “signature” gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. diastaticus and will be found in all diastaticus strains. Flocculation: Low
Attenuation: 80-90%
Temp Range: 65-80°F
Alcohol Tolerance: 12%
I'm planning on fruiting this beer but I haven't picked the fruit quite yet. It depends how my fruit harvest goes, but it'll likely involve tart cherries, raspberries, or blackberries.

The recipe today is based on the Fermentery Form Extra Farmhouse Ale recipe published on Craft Beer & Brewing. Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today.

5.58# Viking Pilsner malt
1.50# Chit malt
2.12# Weyermann Vienna
2.12# Spelt malt
58g Aged hops (90 minutes)
81g Willamette (90 minutes)
Yeast Nutrient
Wyeast 3031 Saison-Brett Blend
Fruit TBD, secondary

Mash at 148F, 90 min boil, chill to 65F and pitch yeast then allow to free-rise.

Brewing Notes
No issues. OG came in at ~15.5 (1.061), which is a little higher than I was shooting for, but it's not too high. 

Update 7/6/2020
Fermentation seems to be rolling right along. As I mentioned above, I chilled to ~65F then brought it inside and it's been fermenting at room temp in my basement office, that's consistently around 70-72F. Fermentation does seem to be slowing a bit today with the krausen dropping from a high of about 2.5 inches to around 1 inch. Aroma in my office is quite fruity and tropical in character.

Update 8/3/2020
This beer is still in primary and there are faint traces of bubbles on top, possibly from brett working slowly, or possibly just CO2 coming out of solution. I'm going to transfer half onto 7.5# of blackberries (3# per gallon) and the other half onto 8# of a combination of peaches and apricots (3.2# per gallon). The target here is very much a fruit forward beer. I'm most worried about the blackberries since they tend to be a delicate flavor and this will be my first time using them. 

Update 8/10/2020
I started preparing the fruit tonight. One half will get 5.7# of Utah-grown peaches plus 3.0# apricot puree. The other half gets 4.0# of my home-grown blackberries plus 3.0# blackberry puree. The purees won't be added until I transfer the beer, but the fresh fruit was treated tonight. Both got treated with ~1/8t potassium metabisulfite dissolved in 1/2c RO water. This is a method used by several commercial breweries to sanitize raw fruit and it seems to really preserve the fresh fruit character. This will be allowed to off gas overnight before the beer is racked on top.

Update 8/11/2020
Beer was transferred from primary onto fruit this morning.  No issues, pics here:

Update 10/28/2020
I moved both of these out of my basement to start cold crashing and hopefully drop the fruit. The fruit had started settling out on its own, but it's still loose. The more compact it is, the less loss there will be so I'll let it sit cold as long as needed. I pulled samples of these a few weeks ago and really liked where they're headed. There's still a fair amount of bitterness but that will continue to evolve. Despite being dark purple, the Blackberry version is, as expected, fairly subtle berry character despite a heavy fruit addition. The Apricot/Peach version is bright peach flavor and aroma. Hopefully I'll be able to transfer these in the not too distant future.