Author Archives: jasonfuller

Batch 52: Kombi

Brew date: TBD
Bottling date: TBD

This is one of those rare brews where I try to emulate a BJCP style properly. Well, at least with half of the batch: the other half will be conditioned for an extended period with a blend of brettanomyces. The style is 24B, Belgian pale ale. I’ve built out a blank page recipe based on some reading as well as the BJCP guidelines. As usual, I am going with Weyermann Bohemian pilsner malt for the base, and added in a healthy dose of their Munich II (9L) malt as well. I am not adding any sugar, but instead targeting a very fermentable wort for a dry finish.

Target OG: 1.051 Target FG: 1.009
Target IBU: 26 Target ABV: 5.5%

Batch size: 19L (into fermentor)
BHE: 73%

Water Adjustments:
2g CaCl for yeast health

Mash steps:
131F dough in
144F for 20 min
151F for 20 min
161F for 20 min
170F mash out / sparge

Boil 90 minutes

Grist:
3.00 kg Bohemian Pilsner (Weyermann) [69.4%]
0.80 kg Munich II Dark (Weyermann) [18.5%]
0.20 kg Flaked oats [4.6%]
0.16 kg Victory malt (Briess) [3.7%]
0.16 kg Caramunich II (Weyermann) [3.7%]

Hopping:
18.3 AAU Hallertau Tradition @ 60 min [28g]
7.6 AAU Czech Saaz @ 15 min [28g]

Other:
1/2 tablet Whirfloc @ 15 min
1/2 tsp yeast nutrient @ 15 min

Fermentation:
White Labs WLP500 – 2L starter
Pitch @ 66F, hold at 66F for 72h, raise to 70F for 48h
Condition 50F for 2 weeks

Bottle condition to 3.0 vols

2019.01.15 Buckstock Tasting

Buckstock is my Burton ale recipe aged for nine months with Brett C. It was brewed in January 2018, bottled in September. It’s 9.6% ABV and theoretically 80 IBU, but that is not at all apparent. There is traces of the hops in the aroma with a touch of citrus and herbal character, but the taste is all dark fruit and caramel with that typical brett C musty fruitiness. There is some leather on the finish as well. There is light carbonation, finally, which took about 4 months to develop as no fresh yeast was pitched upon bottling. Believe it or not, this is 100% maris otter pale malt – the colour is from the extended boil as well as the higher gravity.

2019.01.15 – Pomebic Tasting

This is the most drawn out, and perhaps convoluted beer I’ve made to date. It’s only been bottle conditioning for five months, but it was brewed in 2016. It was a turbid mashed wort made up of Pilsner, malted and raw wheat similar to a Lambic style grist and I racked it onto the yeast cake from a spontaneously fermented cider. After a few days without activity, I accepted that my fears that these yeasts would not be able to ferment maltose and picked the US-05 I had in the fridge. Over the next few weeks I added bottle dregs from a few sour beers I was drinking and left it to sit for over a year. It developed a nice clean acidity but lacked in character otherwise owing to the rather neutral primary fermentation.

My choices were to fruit, or to add honey. I decided to go with honey, and added 800g of orange blossom honey which bumped the theoretical OG up from 1.045 to 1.065.

Anyway, onto the task at hand here: tasting this creation. Thankfully, the end product is palatable. It pours full gold, with a fizzy head that dissipated to lacing fairly quickly. Not surprising, given the acidity. The aroma is largely floral, with rose and chamomile type notes, and an acidic, citrusy bite. Acidity is the first thing you notice when taking a sip, with sweet lemon and tart white peach flavours. It’s otherwise quite clean but with a bit of a lingering lactic acid thing on the finish I can’t quite place, but often experience with sour beers. The honey is also noticable on the finish, with a floral mead-like quality.

Batch 51: Aurea

This is my first batch of the bière de miel I have given the name ‘Aurea’, but it has been a long time in the making. I’ve spent a lot of hours planning what has ended up being a very simple beer on the surface. The idea behind this beer is to showcase the honey addition in a significant way, so there is a significant amount of honey added, and the rest of the recipe is designed to support rather than overshadow the honey’s delicate flavours. Malted wheat and flaked oats are used in place of my typically favoured raw or flaked wheat to offer a little more perceived sweetness to balance the extremely dry finish and light body expected from all that honey. Water additions are kept minimal and balanced.

Target OG: 1.050 – 1.052
Target FG: 1.000
IBU: 25
ABV: 7%

Brewing on my Grainfather system (~73% BHE)
19L batch size (24L pre boil, 21L post boil targets)

Water adjustments:
2g CaCl
2g Gypsum

Mash schedule:
Dough in 131F for 15 min
Raise to 153F for 20 min
Raise to 161F for 20 min
Mash out, sparge at 170F

Boil 90 minutes

Grist:

45% Bohemian Pilsner malt [1.60 kg]
15% Malted wheat [0.60 kg]
5% Munich II [0.20 kg]
5% Flaked oats [0.20 kg]
35% Cranberry blossom honey [1.40 kg]*

* Added once fermentation slows, approx 3 days

Hopping:

20 AAU of German Tradition at 60 min
5 AAU of Saaz at 15 min

Fermentation:

Escarpment Labs ‘Old World Saison blend’ 180B cell pack
Pitched at 72F, free rise and hold at 78F 72 hrs

Batch 50: Woodstock 2019

Brew Date: December 30, 2018

More or less an annual tradition, I’ve made Woodstock for three of the past four years. The idea is that it is a dark old ale, primary fermented with English ale yeast and aged with brettanomyces. The first iteration was 90% Maris Otter, 6.5% C40, 3.5% C120, and 1.5% Chocolate malt. I’ve varied the recipe each time based on specific ideas for that vintage and haven’t concerned myself with any semblance of consistency from year to year other than that it is dark-ish and aged with brett.

This batch of Woodstock is loosely based on historic porter, with all Thomas Fawcett malts. The plan is to primary ferment it for about 5 months, then bottle without sugar and allow slow attenuation to build slight carbonation over time. I’ve gone a bit lighter on gravity than previous vintages (which typically finish around 12% ABV). I suspect I’ll go the other way next year.

OG: 1.076
FG: TBD
IBU: 63
ABV: TBD

Batch size: 10L (into the fermentor)

Mash: 155F for 75 minutes; mash out 170F
Water adjustments:
– 5g Calcium Carbonate (chalk)
– 3g Gypsum
– 1g table salt

15L mash water in Grainfather
4.5L sparge (all water adjustments made in mash water)

Boil: 150 minutes

Grist:

85% Golden Promise (3.40 kg)
12.5% Brown malt (0.50 kg)
2.5% Pale Chocolate malt (0.10 kg)

Hopping/etc:

63 AAU Nugget at 75 minutes (20g)
50g medium toast boiled American oak cubes added at pitching

Fermentation:

30 seconds pure O2 added to fermentor
Safale S-04 + Yeast Bay ‘All the Bretts’ slurry
Pitch temp 61F, held at 68F for the first 48h, then let rise to 71F.

Notes: Activity picked up around the 12 hour mark. Despite decent head space, blow off started at 24h and continued for another 36h. Kept temp using water bath with ice blocks; thus temp ranged from 67F to 70F during significant fermentation. Once fermentation slowed, allowed to free rise to ambient of ~71F.

Batch 49: Saison Lune

Brew date: December 29, 2018
Bottling date: January 13, 2019

This iteration of Saison Lune, my ongoing malt-balanced house saison recipe, uses an even blend of three base malts and Omega’s Jovaru lithuanian farmhouse ale yeast. The base malts are accented by some flaked wheat in an effort to balance the sweetness of the Munich. Hopping is restrained in order to keep the balance towards the malts, with a nod towards bière de garde.

OG: 1.041
FG: 1.006
IBU: 27
ABV: 4.6%

Brewed on the Grainfather, 20L batch

Water Adjustments:
4g Gypsum, 4g Calcium Chloride

Mash Schedule:

Mash in 131F with 15L, hold 15 min
144F for 25 minutes
148F for 10 minutes
151F for 5 minutes
161F for 30 minutes
170F for 10 minutes

Sparge with 13.5L of 170F water

Grist:

30% Bohemian Pilsner (Weyermann) [1.10 kg]
30% Vienna malt (Weyermann) [1.10 kg]
30% Munich I malt (Weyermann) [1.10 kg]
10% Flaked wheat [0.37 kg]

Hopping:

23 AAU Tettnanger at 60 minutes [45g]
5 AAU Hallertau at 5 minutes [20g]

Fermentation:

Omega Yeast – Jovaru Lithuanian farmhouse ale
Primary fermented at 90F for 72 hours; let free fall to 68F ambient for about 2 weeks.

Bottled with 3.0 vols of CO2 (134g table sugar)

Notes:

Activity kicked in within 6 hours! 1.007 after 10 days, still murky and tasted very doughy. After another 6 days it had dropped pretty clear and the taste was much better. Lots of white peach and a nice gentle peppery spice.

Batch 48: Belgian Tripel

Brew date: Dec 27, 2018
Bottling date: Jan 12, 2019

In an effort to diversify my brewing experience and have something different to drink, but still well suited to my brewing equipment, I am brewing an assortment of Abbey ales over the next while. First up is a Tripel, with Tripel Karmeliet being a primary inspiration.

I chose Escarpment Labs’ Dry Belgian ale yeast because of its high attenuation and lower levels of phenols, though this is based on literature as I’ve never used the yeast. Also, with 180B cells, I feel comfortable pitching it into my half batch (10L) without a starter.

Grain bill is based on the Karmeliet clone found here, with some changes.  With oat malt being a bit tough to find in bulk, I opted to write that out of the recipe. I also made other simplifications (ie no flaked barley) because I prefer to start simple and work up from there to better understand the contribution of each component.

Target OG: 1.081
Target FG: 1.012
Target IBU: 29

10L batch brewed on Grainfather:

Water Adjustments:
1g CaCl
2g Gypsum
2g Chalk
6g 88% lactic acid

Mash Steps:
dough in at 131F (12L)
30 minutes at 145F
10 minutes at 151F
20 minutes at 160F
Mash out at 170F
Sparge 6.25L at 170F

Boil: 90 minutes

Grist:
Bohemian Pilsner malt – 2.50 kg (73.5%)
Wheat malt – 0.30 kg (8.8%)
Table sugar – 0.30 kg (8.8%) added after high krausen
Flaked wheat – 0.15 kg (4.4%)
Flaked oats – 0.15 kg (4.4%)

Hopping:
20g Hallertau at 60 minutes (22.3 AAU)
15g Saaz at 15 minutes (7 IBU)

Other Additions:
Peel of 1/2 lemon, shaved – added as a tea with the sugar
1/2 tsp Coriander seeds, whole – added as a tea with the sugar

Fermentation:

Escarpment Labs “Dry Belgian ale”
Pitch at 66F, let free rise in 68F ambient

Actual OG: 1.073
Actual FG: 1.004
Actual ABV: 9.2%

Bottle conditioned to 3.4 vols CO2 (84g table sugar into 9L bottling volume).

Notes:

Post-boil gravity 1.059, no sugar. Upped the sugar addition from 300g to 325g to help offset the lower-than-expected gravity.

As you can see, this beer dried right out! Escarpment Dry Belgian is a diastatic yeast, and it showed. I am glad I came in under gravity to account for this; even still it is exceedingly high ABV.

Batch 47: Saison L’Internationale

Brew date: November 24, 2018
Bottle date: December 24, 2018

This is a recipe that was crowd-sourced on the Saison, Biere de Garde and Farmhouse Appreciation Society on Facebook to be a kind of best-of-both-worlds interpretation of both classic and modern saison characteristics. It has been brewed by a number of breweries in the US as well as a good handful of homebrewers I would imagine too. The grist and hop schedule were defined but the choice of yeast was left up to the brewer in order to bring a personal touch from each participating brewer.

I chose to use the Mad Fermentationist saison blend from Bootleg Biology, augmented with a bit of Funk Weapon III, as I had freshly saved this yeast from my last batch.

Without further ado, the recipe is as follows:

Target OG: 1.042
Estimated IBU: 35

70% Bohemian Pilsner malt (Weyermann) – 7.00 lbs
18% Wheat malt (unknown) – 1.80 lbs
12% Rye malt (Mecca Grade) – 1.20 lbs

18AAU of Tettnanger (in place of Strisselspalt) at 60 min (1.5 oz)
6 AAU of Tettnanger at 10 minutes (1.5 oz)
7 AAU of Motueka at 5 minutes (1.5 oz)
4 AAU of Hallertau Blanc at 5 miniutes (1 oz)

The use of low-alpha hops as bittering, while counter-intuitive in modern brewing, has been something I’ve increasingly become a fan of lately for saison as it lends a herbal backbone to the beer that only large amounts of hop matter will provide. The inclusion of Motueka and a more characterful Hallertau varietal gives a more modern hop aroma and flavour, while the rye helps the yeast in giving a spicy edge.

Above: My glamorous brew setup in the bathroom.

I followed a more involved mash schedule than usual in an effort to optimize the head retention of this beer – which could be in vain, since I pitched a blend with a decent amount of LAB in it.

Mash Schedule:

Dough in at 131F and stir thoroughly
Raise to 144F and hold 20 minutes
Raise to 148F and hold 10 minutes
Raise to 151F and hold 10 minutes
Raise to 161F and hold 30 minutes
Mash out at 170F, sparge with 170F water

I mashed with 4.15 gallons in the Grainfather; sparged with 3.65 approximately.

Mash was slower than usual, surely due to the rye malt – which, in addition to being huskless, was milled using my burr grinder on its most coarse setting as I didn’t have a mill to use on it. This produced a bit more “flour” than I would like to admit, but overall it didn’t seem too bad.

The slow mash could be why my gravity was way high on this batch compared to my normal extract – pre-boil gravity was a startling 1.050, when I was going for the mid 1.030’s. I added one gallon of water early in the boil but even still, the OG of this beer is 1.048. I intend to dilute a bit further at bottling.

After collecting about 5.4 gallons of 1.048 wort at 72F, I pitched roughly 200B cells of the yeast blend after about 15 seconds of pure O2. Left at ambient (around 68F), activity started around 18-20 hours in and was chugging along nicely at 24 hours.

Bottled December 24, 2018 at a FG of 1.004, primed to 2.7 volumes to account for a little more attenuation in bottle. I would have liked to let it stay in the carboy longer, but due to pipeline constraints I’m letting the rest of the conditioning happen in bottle.

Batch 46: Saison Dorée / Dorée Reserve

Brew Date:  September 30, 2018

Another iteration of my “house golden saison” with only minor tweaks to the recipe but two new yeast blends. This batch is being split between the 7-gal Brew Bucket and a 3-gal glass carboy.  The former will receive Bootleg Biology’s “Mad Fermentationist” blend by Michael Tonsmere, while the latter will receive WYeast 3726 saison yeast and a pack of Bootleg’s “Funk Weapon 3”. So this time, neither half will be a ‘clean’ beer.

Grain bill and mash / boil details remain the same as the previous few batches, but the flameout hops are updated from Nelson Sauvin to Hallertau Blanc for this batch. Future batches will likely go back to Nelson.

Details below for a 8.2 gallon batch:

70% Bohemian Pilsner (4.20 kg)
15% Vienna malt (0.90 kg)
8% Flaked wheat (0.48 kg)
5% Table sugar (0.30 kg)
2% Acid malt (0.12 kg)

100 ppm Ca, 130 ppm SO4, 75 ppm Cl (7.5g Gypsum, 5g CaCl)

Mash 145F for 45 mins
Mash 152F for 45 mins
Mash 170F for 10 mins

Mash volume 4.2 gallons
Sparge volume 4.0 gallons
Top-up water approx. 2 gallons

Boil 120 minutes

65g Willamette (3.2% AA) at 60 mins
22g Motueka (unknown AA) at 20 mins
28g Hallertau Blanc (8.8% AA) at 0 mins

Chill to 72F

2.6 gallons collected in glass carboy, innoculated with WY3726 + BB Funk Weapon 3
4.1 gallons collected in brew bucket, innoculated with BB Mad Fermentationist blend + BB Funk Weapon 3.

Both received ~ 15 seconds pure O2 before yeast pitch.

The 4.1 gallon portion with Mad Fermentationist was bottled on November 18 2018 and had a great pellicle already as shown below. FG was down to 1.004 at this time and 94g of table sugar was used to prime it to 2.7 volumes – intentionally on the lowish side, in case it continues to attenuate a couple more points.

Batch 44: Dorée du Printemps

Brew Date:  April 21, 2018
Bottling Date:  May 13, 2018

 

This batch was a product of the yeast and hop inventory in my fridge/freezer. I need to reduce the inventory of hops, and I had Omega Saisonstein on hand gifted by a friend. I decided to brew what has become my most-brewed recipe to date, Dorée, but effectively double the hopping, both in bittering and flavour / aroma additions. This beer was inspired by very bitter (yet enjoyable) examples of saison I’ve had in the past, such as Dunham’s Saison Reserve and Saison du Pinacle.

The only modification to my typical grist was to use wildflower honey in place of plain white sugar, as I had purchased some at a good price.

70% Floor-malted Bohemian Pilsner (7.00 lbs)
15% Vienna malt (1.50 lbs)
8% Wheat malt (0.80 lbs)
5% Wildflower honey (0.50 lbs) – added at flameout
2% Acidulated malt (0.20 lbs)

I bumped up the gravity a little to balance the additional hop presence:

OG 1.056
FG 1.002
IBU 45
ABV 6.5%

Hopping was as follows:

6g Cascade @ 60 min
18g Azacca @ 60 min
14g Nelson Sauvin @ 15 min
20g Azacca whirlpool
30g Motueka whirlpool
50g Nelson Sauvin whirlpool

Brew Day Notes:

Mashed in at 10:15am at strike temp of 145F on the Grainfather (it quickly equalizes once grain is added, so no need for separate strike temp). Added 1/2 tsp of Calcium Chloride and 1/2 tsp of Gypsum before the grain. Mash water volume 4.1 gallons. Increased temp to 152F at 11:00 am. Mashed out at 11:45 am at 170F, started sparge at 12:00. 3.7 gallons of sparge water at 170F used.

Boil started at 12:40 pm, with 6.5 gallons of 1.036 wort. After a two hour boil (and sugar added at flameout), OG recorded at 1.056 and 4.5 gallons were collected into the fermentor.

Bottled May 13 with 145g of dextrose for 3.0 vols of CO2.

Tasting Notes:

[Sept 9, 2018] This beer turned out well, as expected it is pushing the limits of bitterness for a bone dry beer but it is still drinkable. The hop character was a unique combination of lemon, gooseberry, and white grape which suited the style very well. At this point the hop character has largely diminished but the bracing bitterness remains, and enough character playfully integrates with the yeast character to keep the beer interesting. Carbonation is spot-on, with foamy pours and slow gushing but not overly so.

[Nov 26, 2018] Still hoppy, still bitter – and a pretty well balanced beer considering the intent. Would I make a saison this bitter again?  I don’t think so, but it opened my eyes to the option of pushing some of my go-to recipes a little further with the bittering hops.