Monthly Archives: December 2016

Batch 31: Grodziskie

Brewed:  Dec 29, 2016     OG: 1.029    FG: 1.007    ABV: 2.9%    IBU: 25

Bottled:  Jan 21, 2017

I wouldn’t say the Polish are known for their alcoholic beverages, but I’m a sucker for an unusual beer style. I found out I could get a 10 lb bag of Weyermann’s oak smoked wheat and so I did. Six pounds of this bag is making this beer, a traditional Polish wheat beer of low alcohol and high carbonation. Typical examples would be in the 3 – 3.5% ABV range. I feel that the American tendency to up the ABV on classic beers would do a disservice to this beer due to the potentially overly-powerful character of the oak fire-dried malt. This is evident by the malt’s aroma, as it has a very savoury and unique smoke character. The remainder of the bag is being saved for a wheat wine.

The recipe is simple:

100%     Oak-smoked wheat malt (Weyermann)    6.0 lbs

1.5 oz     Tettnang @ 90 mins  (21 AAU)

0.5 oz    Tettnang @ 15 mins  (4 AAU)


Water treatment:

1 tsp CaCl

1 tsp CaCO3

1.5 tsp Gypsum


The mash was longer than usual due to longer acid and protein rests: 20 minutes at 100F, 35 minutes at 125F, then 45 minutes at 158F and a 168F mash-out.  I should note I added 8oz of rice hulls which turned out to be more than enough–sparge went quickly. The boil was 120 minutes as recommended by literature I’ve read and the wort was chilled to a cool 62F and innoculated with WYeast’s Scottish ale strain (1728) for its neutral flavour and high flocculation. Fermentation took place in the wine fridge set to 58F ambient. Activity started around the 18h mark.


Tasting Notes

Jan 11, 2017 – Gravity sample at 2wks. 1.010 now, putting it at a measly 2.5% ABV and only 65% attenuation, which is surprising. I’ll give it another week but perhaps I’m just looking at a low attenuation with the all-wheat grist, which frankly would be great for a beer this small. I took a taste sample at around 1 week and it was honestly quite terrible. But now that I’ve given things a little more time, I am starting to see that it will round out into something better.  It definitely has a smoked ham character that is not what I’d consider classically enjoyable. But it’s got interesting smoke complexity and it’s not overbearing thanks to the low gravity.

Jan 18, 2017 – Down to 1.007, and cleared up nicely. Still tastes like ham, though the beer is very light thanks to the low gravity. I think with some carbonation this’ll be something I can drink, but I still doubt I’d ever want to use oak smoked wheat again.  I still have 4 lbs I intended to brew a savoury wheatwine with, but have shelved that idea.


Batch 30: Turbid-mashed Petite Saison and Pomebic

Brewed:  Dec 28, 2016

This was another brew day where one mash was used to produce two beers, though quite different from my farmhouse parti-gyle brew day. In this case, I made a 4-gallon batch of 1.045 OG where I drew off 2.5 gallons to ferment with the yeast & bacteria from my wild cider, then diluted the remainder to produce 2.5 gallons of low-OG saison fermented with White Labs’ 568 Belgian saison blend.  The mash itself was a turbid mash with wort removed after the 125F rest, as well as shortly into the saccharification rest and boiled separately on the stove top.  In the wild ale this will hopefully encourage a wider variety of organisms to flourish, while in the petite saison this will hopefully encourage a lower attenuation and more flavourful and full-bodied beer.

The common mash consisted of:Turbid pull

5 lbs Bohemian Pilsner malt (71.4%)

1 lb Wheat malt (14.3%)

1 lb Flaked wheat (14.3%)

The process, hopping, and fermentation are detailed below.

Brew Day Notes:

Started the mash with only 7L of water in the Grainfather, 1L per pound grain. Even though this is slightly higher water ratio than typical of this style mash, due to the false bottom of the grain jacket sitting about 3″ above the bottom of the kettle there isn’t much water available to the grain. Strike temp 117F for dough-in. Started heating 4 gallons of 190F sparge water for various steps along the way. Added 0.75 tsp of both CaCl and Gypsum to this sparge water.

Pulled 1.3L of milky wort after raising the temp to 125F and letting stand for about 20 minutes. Brought to 190F on the stove-top. Added about 2.5 gallons of 180F water to mash and set recirculation up with set temperature of 158F.  Left 45 minutes.  At the 15 minute mark, another ~0.8L of murky wort was pulled and brought near-boil on the stovetop. The remainder left to fully convert.

Mash-out and sparge were performed at 175F.  I didn’t want to go lambic-level hot on the sparge as the petite saison will be consumed young. Once boil was achieved I added about 0.3 oz of Willamette with 3.6% AA, for around 5 IBU of bittering. Pre-boil SG was 1.036.  I pulled the Pomebic portion after 95 minutes of boiling via the counterflow chiller. OG on this was 1.045. The rest was then diluted with boiling water from the stove-top to a SG of 1.030 and hopped with 0.15 oz of Azacca and 0.55 oz of Willamette. It was then boiled 30 minutes, then flame-out hopped with 0.75 oz Azacca and 1.00 oz Willamette and chilled into the Ss Brewtech 3.5 gallon fermentor.  OG of the petite saison going into the fermentor was 1.035, a bit higher than target. Collected about 2.3 gallons, slightly under target volume.


OG: 1.045

IBU: 5

Fermentation:  Wild apple yeasts, fermentation start 67F, free rise to 73F.  US-05 added at day 5 due to no significant CO2 production. Dregs from Four Winds Pomona added at 2 wks. Dregs from Strange Fellows / Modern Times ‘Strange Times’ added at 4 wks after transfer to secondary & top-up with fresh saison wort. Pellicle formed around 8 wks.

The beer was allowed to condition for 13 months before 800g of Orange Blossom honey was added. After an additional 6 or so months, it was bottled (Sept 9, 2018). At this time it had a nice acidity with mead-like and stone fruit flavours.

Petite Saison (a.k.a. PS30):  

OG: 1.037    FG:  1.003

IBU: 31

Fermentation: WLP568, start at 65F free rise to 73F. Transferred to secondary with about 25% fresh 1.044 wort at 4 weeks and pitched with starter culture from SF/MT collab ‘Strange Times’.

Tasting Notes

Jan 11, 2017 – Gravity sample on the petite saison. Two things surprised me:  the beer is nearly crystal clear, and attenuation was not hindered by the turbid mash. 1.002 at present, or 94% AA. Well it was a good idea in theory, going to need to work on my process there. Also some rather pungent byproducts in the aroma right now – sulphur seems to be a component, but not everything.  Has dissipated now as I write this. Flavour is quite pleasant, grainy and stone fruit with very limited phenols.

Jan 18, 2017 – Still a prominent odour on the petite saison. Foot mixed with sulphur, or something. It does dissipate after a while and the flavour is nice once past that. The plan was to bottle this imminently but with these volatiles in there I am debating two options: transfer to glass and let it condition for longer (and maybe pitch some brett), or bottle it with a brett addition and hope that takes care of the phenols.

Jan 22, 2017 – Transferring Pommebic to secondary.  Still at 1.010, fermented down with US-05. Very nectarine/peach forward fruitiness on the nose. Smells sour, but acidity on the palate is quite minimal at this point. Clean and fruity taste, could be good with time. Topping up with fresh wort from Saison Dorée brew day.  Also, transferred petite saison to secondary where it will receive a mixed Brettanomyces pitch.

Jan 26, 2017 – Pitched a healthy brett-forward starter during high activity which went to work almost immediately on each carboy. Steady bubbles (15-20 min) for a few days. Both carboys developed some krausen again after the top-ups after 2-3 days.

Mar 2, 2017 – Bottled the petite saison. Already showing plenty of character from the secondary pitch, and a pellicle was just starting to form before draining the carboy – sorry beer, but I need that carboy! Bottled at 1.003 with 2.0 oz sugar and 2.6 gallons bottled.  Expecting that it might further attenuate over time, hence bottling at a slightly lower CO2 volume.

Mar 22, 2017 – Drinking the first bottle of the petite saison. Strong apple skin character along with some stone fruit and funky hay. Pretty nice, a little overly cidery but quite drinkable stuff.

June 6, 2017 – Petite Saison (PS30) is developing more of a lemon/apricot character which is pleasant. Carbonation is a little too low to support the low gravity, and thus it comes across a bit watery. Apple character is still there but more balanced now.

June 27, 2017 – Primary pull on Pomebic. SG down to 1.006. Aroma is fruity sour candy, quite lovely. Taste is surprisingly funky given the lack of funk on the nose, similar to a funky cider. Not overly cidery otherwise. Lacks intensity overall but coming along nicely. Will check in a couple months to see if gravity has stabilized.

Nov 26, 2018 – bottle of the Pomebic. Nearly two years since brew date but only a couple months in bottle, this opened with a burst of sulphur but dissipated very quickly, as did the head. After than the nose was pleasantly floral with a bit of underripe stone fruit.  Tastes shows a little funkiness in there but overall it’s lightly acidic and floral.

Feb 4, 2019 – Pomebic has seemingly broken down that sulphur issue with a little more time in bottle. Head retention was a bit better than the previous bottle (see above photo), though it did reduce to trace lacing after maybe 30 – 60 seconds. Bright acidity is on the high end but not out of balance, and it does have great floral complexity.

Batch 29: Autumn Saison

Brewed: Dec 3, 2016
Bottled: Dec 26, 2016
OG: 1.060   FG: 1.002
IBU: 40


Today was supposed to be my Grodziskie brew day, but the oak smoked wheat did not show up when it was supposed to, so I bought the grist I had in mind for a third attempt at a biere de garde instead. The second batch of biere de garde turned out quite well, and was actually well received at a BJCP training session on the style, but I wanted to try a version with a higher proportion of pilsner malt and just a small amount of very dark malt to see how that compares.

However, not finding the yeast I wanted easily and the fact I was going to be bottling two beers at the same time made me realize it would be efficient and economical to use one (or a mix) of the yeast cakes. I decided to go with the WYeast 3711 cake, as WLP550 is showing different esters than I’m looking for. I looked at the grist I had bought and realized it should make a pretty good, slightly darker and maltier saison base.  It was designed to be dry and toasty rather than caramel or fruity, so it should work well.  I added some dextrose to further dry it out and allow me to brew a slightly larger batch size than I planned with the biere de garde.

The recipe is as follows, for a 3.3 gallon batch (approx 72% efficiency):

5.04 lb Bohemian Pilsner malt  batch29-1
1.05 lb Munich 10L malt
0.56 lb  Flaked wheat
0.35 lb  Dextrose
0.06 lb  Victory malt
0.05 lb  Carafa II (de-husked)

0.5 oz Apollo (13.6% AA) at 90 minutes (~37 IBU)
1.0 oz Styrian Goldings (3.9% AA) at 10 minutes (~5 IBU)

Fermented with WY3711 (pitched onto fresh yeast cake from table saison brew) at 65-67F ambient to try to keep things cool, though with the knowledge that 3711 will give similar character regardless.


Tasting Notes: 

Dec 26, 2016 – Bottled. Checked FG from the bottling bucket and even with the priming sugar it read 1.002. 3711 sure is a beast. Tastes good – bitterness is assertive enough to balance the darker malts without overpowering.

Jan 8, 2017 – First bottle.  Carb is about right. Both aroma and taste is very bready with plummy fruit flavours as well. The spice from the French saison yeast is there but not as dominant as in more pale recipes. Bit heavy on the back end but I think that’s likely due to the beer’s youth at this point. Looking forward to seeing how this ages.

June 19, 2017 – This beer developed nicely, not particularly interesting but very dry, and the malt character is pleasantly bready with a little bit of red fruit peeking through. While the use of WY3711 definitely balanced the malt with great dryness, it also limited the expression of the beer.