Category Archives: Uncategorised

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
IBU: 63

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


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


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


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.

[Feb 12, 2019] Gravity sample from primary; 1.021 SG. Aroma is caramel and oak, taste includes some dark fruit as well. This brett blend has exhibited a lot of cherry pie and leather and I’m seeing that build here.

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


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]


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


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)

Brewday 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.

Tasting Notes:

[Feb 8 2019] Now that carbonation is where it should be, the perceived sweetness has diminished and it’s much more saison-like. A bright, and unique ester profile with a mix of citrus and apple. The malt backbone is strong thanks to all that vienna and munich. Quite nice, and full bodied and flavourful for 4.5%!

Batch 48: Snowdrop

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

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%)

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


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).


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.

For the second iteration of this beer, I would like to keep the grist and hopping the same, as those profiles were great, but double the lemon and coriander (and maybe add some cardamom as well). I will also try with WLP500 next time for hopefully a more Trappist-like yeast profile.

Competition Results

3rd place (of 30 entries) – Cowtown Yeast Wranglers 2019
Score sheet results 43/50, 39/50

3rd place (of 12 entries) – Lethbridge WertContest 2019
Score sheet results TBD

Tasting Notes:

[Feb 13, 2019]  Carb is great, gradual gush but the head is extremely long lasting, pillowy, and has great cling. Medium gold in colour with chill haze. Aroma is banana and clove in equal measure on the phenolics, which are moderate, and some underripe peach character also. No alcohol noticed on the aroma. Taste wise, the carbonation dances on your tongue but the heat on the back end is noticable. Low to no fusels, but very warming and a bit young-tasting there. Nice crackery malt with light floral notes and alcohol flavours reminiscent of Piraat from my memory. Nice! Very, very dry. Could honestly stand to be less dry.

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.

Tasting Notes

Jan 24, 2019 – At one month in bottle, the carb is pretty good. Aroma is slightly cidery, but no apple on the taste – very herbal, comes across more malty and full bodied than Saison Doree did, which is surprising considering their similarities and matching water profiles. Heck, it’s also a good bit darker which I find surprising. Good touch of acidity but not too much. Still young so I’d say it’s promising.

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 gallon batch:

73.6% Bohemian Pilsner (4.20 kg)
15.8% Vienna malt (0.90 kg)
8.4% Flaked wheat (0.48 kg)
2.1% 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, inoculated with WY3726 + BB Funk Weapon 3
4.1 gallons collected in brew bucket, inoculated with BB Mad Fermentationist blend + BB Funk Weapon 3.

Both received ~ 15 seconds pure O2 before yeast pitch and allowed to free rise in ~72F environment.

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.

The 2.6 gallon portion with 3726/FW3 was bottled January 22, 2019 with 74g of table sugar for approximately 3.1 volumes of CO2. I didn’t check gravity but reason to suspect it’s at or near 1.000.

Pictured above is 46a, the portion fermented with the Mad Fermentationist blend, after two months in bottle. Despite the short turnaround time, this beer is already excellent: loads of citrus and herbal complexity, good malt base, and just the right dash of acidity to quench. I am really impressed by the LAB in this blend in terms of hop-tolerance.


I entered the ‘Mad Fermentationist’ version of this beer in the 2019 Cowtown Yeast Wranglers’ competition under category 28B, where it received scores of 35/50 and 37/50 but did not place. Notes were generally that it lacked enough brett or lactic character to shine in that category, resulting in insufficient depth of character. I feel that with some more age, this beer will likely score better.

Doree Reserve

The following photo is taken May 21, 2019. This portion of the batch has developed a soft, subtle brett character. Aroma is peach, white grapes, maybe some light malt. Taste is rather full bodied with perceived sweetness but a dry finish, and keeps the pale stone fruit as the dominant character. It’s interesting how the bitterness is much more accentuated in the Mad Fermentationist version. This one has barely enough bitterness to balance the body, while the MF version is bracingly bitter.

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.

Batch 42: Oxford Ale + Woodstock

It’s been a good while since I brewed a barleywine, and I’d like to make this an annual tradition. To get further mileage out of the brew day, half was fermented clean as a barleywine while the other half received a mixed brett culture as well and aged as an old ale. Depending on how things go, the old ale may become a solera or packaged in full.

Brew Date: Dec 28th 2017

OG: 1.091 (Target 1.100)
FG: 1.021 (Target 1.025)
IBU: 55
ABV: 10.0%

90% Floor-malted Maris Otter (16.20 lbs)
7.5% Mecca Grade Opal 44 (1.35 lbs)
2.5% Crystal 120 (0.45 lbs)

Hop Extract to 50 IBU @ 90 min (9 g)
1 oz Centennial at 15 min

Oxford Ale (2.3 gals): Fermented with WYeast 1728 (~160B cells)
Woodstock (2.0 gals): Fermented with WYeast 1728 (~100B cells) + Imperial ‘Suburban Brett’ (~160B cells)

Above: Woodstock drank July 11, 2019 after approximately 6 months in bottle. Carbonation took a long time, but reached the right level.

Brewday Notes:

Started at 4:00pm, later than I’d like to start on a long-boil brew. Originally I was intended to boil for 2.5 hours, but due to poor efficiency I decided to keep boiling until the gravity got high enough. DME would have been a simpler solution. In the end boiled 4 hours on the nose, got OG up to 1.091, still shy of the 1.100 target. I need to stop expecting near-70% efficiency on big grain bills.

Thanks to a big, 3-stage starter split between the two carboys and a good hit of pure O2 after transfer, activity was underway within 8-10 hours. Fermentors were kept in the beer cellar (air temp 58F).

[Jan 15, 2018] – Gravity check on the Oxford carboy, SG is 1.025 currently for 8.8% ABV. Nose is largely toffee and taste follows (other than the yeast character from being so young).  Not a lot of alcohol coming through, seems good so far though a smaller beer than intended.

[Feb 4, 2018] – Bottling day, SG down to 1.021.

[Dec 26, 2018] – Bottled the old ale portion (Woodstock) at an FG of 1.014, with 16g of table sugar. Managed 29 x 375mL bottles.

Tasting Notes (Oxford Ale):

After a few months, Oxford ale was a bit of a fruity malt bomb, which wasn’t really the intent, though it was fine to drink. After around 8 or 10 months though it started to become more caramel-forward and more in line with the desired flavour profile. It’s sneaky for around 9% ABV, and the sweetness and level of carbonation are spot-on for the style.

[March 2019] Oxford Ale received 2nd place at Cowtown Yeast Wrangler’s competition, with scores of 37/50 and 39/50.

Batch 45: Saison Lune

The maltier of my two ‘base’ saisons that I am developing, this beer uses Vienna as the base malt rather than Pilsner. To ensure it still finishes nice and dry, ~10% of the fermentables (by weight) will be clover/alfalfa honey. To start off simple (and because simple, rustic recipes tend to outperform complicated recipes when it comes to saison), that’s all the fermentables being used. Future iterations are likely to include small amounts of wheat and Munich.

Brew date: May 21, 2018
Packaging date: July 23, 2018

OG: 1.050
FG: 1.004
IBU: 30
ABV: 6.0%

Batch size: 5.5 gal
Mash: 145F for 45 mins, 152F for 45 mins
Mash out: 170F for 10 mins
Boil: 90 minutes


90.5% Vienna malt (3.80 kg)
9.5% Honey (0.40 kg)


1.75 oz Willamette @ 60 min [27 AAU]
1.00 oz Hallertau Blanc @ 10 min [3 AAU]
1.00 oz Hallertau Blanc dry hop


WYeast 3724 – Pkg date May 9th
1L starter of 1.035 wort for 48h
Cell count approx. 175B cells
Fermented at 77F during active fermentation
‘Hollowed’ air lock with cheesecloth on top for 24-48h range.

Pitched at 70F, let free rise to 77F


Unfortunately, this batch didn’t turn out. I am honestly not sure what the issue was, other than it did exhibit the “Dupont stall” and took 6 weeks to attenuate. Possibly an infection, possibly just poor fermentation. The carbonation was spot on, though!

Batch 41: Old Lanes traditional saison

Brew Date: Nov 13, 2017 Bottle Date: Dec 10, 2017

Yet another saison.  I’ve been wanting to do a saison style beer in a more historically-accurate manner for a while:  lower gravity, very simple malt bill, and a higher hopping rate using lower-AA hops.  I would like to take it a step further next time with a proper mixed-culture fermentation but for now I’d like to brew it on my clean equipment, so I’m using the Fantome strain WY3725, as I have a jar of it in the fridge.

In the future I’d like to push this further into historical accuracy with a turbid step mash process and mixed culture fermentation, but wanted a clean version as a baseline. Strength is based on what I want for this beer, which may be a little higher than many historical examples.

The details are as follows:

Batch size: 5.50 gals
Mash: 145F for 45 minutes, 155F for 45 minutes
Boil time: 150 minutes

OG: 1.042
FG: 1.001
IBU: 30
ABV: 5.4%

7.50 lbs Floor-malted Bohemian pilsner (100%)

3.5 oz Saaz (2.3% AA) at 60 minutes
1.0 oz Saaz (2.3% AA) at 10 minutes
1.0 oz Saaz (2.3% AA) dry hop 5 days

Fermented at 70F ambient for 28 days

Brew day Notes:

Pretty smooth brew day, but a few glitches: I forgot salt additions in the mash and sparge water, so just added 1 tsp of CaCl to the boil for yeast health. Meant to make a starter to wake up the old jar of yeast (though there was 175-200B cells, at least), but did not so I just let it warm up to room temp and pitched. Also realized I’m out of O2, so aerated by shaking instead. Underestimated the coldness of our tap water right now and cooled all the way to 58F. Let rise for a couple hours, then pitched and put beside the heater. Only raised to 64F after 24 hours, activity started sometime between that and 36 hours.  Next to a heater, it got up to 72F before major airlock activity and remained at that temp throughout fermentation.

Bottled Dec 10 – 4.5 gallons of finished beer collected, primed with 5.7 oz of dextrose (3.2 vols).

Batch 40: Dorée Batch 2

Brew Date: Sept 10th, 2017
Bottling Date: Oct 12th, 2017 [Clean version]

This new batch of what I intend to be my ‘flagship’ saison recipe is mostly the same as the first batch, with the following changes:  floor malted Bohemian pils in place of Bohemian pils, Nelson fraction of hopping upped to 50%, Willamette addition dropped.  I am also using a different yeast this time – Omega’s Saisonstein strain graciously received from a friend.  I also increased the bitterness from the low 20’s to the low 30’s.

I brewed a bigger batch so that a fraction would be fermented with a mixed culture in the freshly emptied carboy that contained a brett-conditioned biere de garde. This mixed culture consists of Saisonstein, Upright Anniversary 2017 dreg culture, and Le Castor brett saison culture.

OG: 1.048
FG: 1.000
ABV: 6%
IBU: 33


10.5 lbs Bohemian Pilsner, floor malted [70%]
2.25 lbs Vienna malt [15%]
1.20 lbs Flaked wheat [8%]
0.75 lbs Dextrose [5%]
0.30 lbs Acidulated malt [2%]


0.75 oz Nelson @ 45 min
0.75 oz Motueka @ 45 min
0.25 oz Nelson @ 15 min
0.25 oz Motueka @ 15 min
1.50 oz Nelson @ Flame out
1.50 oz Motueka @ Flame out

Mash Schedule:

145F for 45 min
152F for 90 min (had company over)
170F for 15 min

Boiled 105 minutes

Water Additions:

6g Gypsum in mash water (5.5 gal)
2g Gypsum in sparge water (3.5 gal)


Clean half – bottled October 12th with 3.5 oz priming sugar in 0.7 gal water (total vol now 4 gal, 1.048 corrected OG).  FG was 1.000, so I get where the name ‘Saisonstein’s Monster’ comes from now!  I wish I had planned better and used a small dry hop but I did not. Next time.