Tuesday, July 22, 2014

#41 - Hoppy Black Saison v2.0

With how successful my first black saison came out, its amazing that it took me this long to brew another.  This recipe takes most of what I liked about the first recipe with a focus on moderation and complexity. The recipe this time, just as the first, calls for moderate amounts of a complex mix of dark roasted grains, moderate crystal malt use, moderate bitterness, moderate late and dry hops, and moderate spicing (orange peel).  The recipe also calls for French Saison and Candi Syrup as it did the first time, which should again give wonderful, complex elements that can't be found in the hops and malt alone.  This is a recipe that worked out surprisingly well the last time and it seemed as though doing lots of things, but doing so in moderation, allowed each component to come through without any dominating.

The major changes between this recipe and the original version are the change from extract to all-grain, using commercial candi syrup instead of homemade, and significant changes to the hop schedule.  The hop schedule was designed to still emphasize both citrusy American hops and spicy European hops while using what I have on hand, and the change to candi syrup is mainly for convenience but also due to how happy I was with the flavors it developed in my dubbel and quad (despite the other issues those beers experienced).

In order to minimize the harshness of the roasted grains the chocolate malt, black patent and roast barley were all added right before mash out.  Because the dark malts were added so late I used a similar water chemistry profile to my last brew (a much paler saison) with 5 grams of gypsum, 1 gram CaCl, and 8 tsp 10% phosphoric acid.

Brew day hit a few snags as the initial mash in only brought the mash to 145F instead of the intended 150F. I decided to turn this into an opportunity for a step infusion mash and after 20 minutes at 145 the temperature was adjusted with boiling water to 152F for 20 minutes, followed by 20 minutes at 160F and a final 10 minute mashout at 170F.

I also forgot to add the Candi Syrup late in the boil and will now wait to add in the next few weeks. The measured OG came in at 1.042, but I realized my hydrometer was off, reading water at only .995 (and was reading my Brett'd Saison at sub 1.000).  Assuming this .005 difference is consistent, that puts my OG closer to 1.047, which is only slightly less than I would expect given the lack of Candi Syrup at this point.

Wort tasted very sweet without much other flavors from the malts, orange peel, or hops showing through at this point.  The plan is to let this ferment to completion (likely around 2 weeks) before 2 short dry hop sessions.  Half the batch may end up receiving brettanomyces or a different twist depending on where the flavors stand, while at least half will likely be bottled as is.

Efficiency: 67.0% Batch size: 5.0 gal
Fermentable Amount Use PPG Color
 2-Row (US) 9.0 lb 80% Mash 37 1  °L
 Candi Syrup D-90 1.0 lb 8% Late Boil 32 90  °L
 Caramel/Crystal 60(US) 0.5 lb 4% Mash 34 60 °L
 Chocolate (US) 4.0 oz 2 % Mash 34 412  °L
 Roasted Barley (US) 4.0 oz 2 % Mash 33 300  °L
 Black Malt 4.0 oz 2 % Mash 32 500  °L

Hop Amount Time Use Form AA
Palisades (US) 0.5   oz 60  min Boil Pellet 13.0%
Cascade (US) 0.5   oz 15  min Boil Pellet 7.0%
Opal (DE) 1.0   oz 5  min Boil Pellet 6.5%
Strisselspalt (FR) 1.0   oz 4  days Dry Hop Pellet 3.4%
Cascade (US) 0.5   oz 4  days Dry Hop Pellet 7.0%
Palisades (US) 0.5   oz 1  min Whirlpool Pellet 13.0%

Name Lab/Product Average Attenuation
French Saison Wyeast 3711 82.5%

Name Amount Time Use
Phosphoric Acid 8.0 tsp 60.0 min Mash
Calcium Chloride 1.0 g 60.0 min Mash
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 5.0 g 60.0 min Mash
Bitter Orange Peel 0.25 oz 5.0 min Boil
Sweet Orange Peel 0.5 oz 5.0 min Boil

Mixed the 1 lb. of D-90 Candi Syrup with about a quart of water, boiled, cooled and added to the fermentor.  Activity (which had completely died down) picked up again within an hour.

Bottled with 2.95 oz of sugar. 25 of the 12 oz. bottles were bottled straight, while another 24 were bottled after adding the white pepper and a little bit of the ginger and clove tinctures.

Friday, July 18, 2014

#37 - Alsatian Identity Tasting

While this beer has been ready since the early spring I've been waiting to give it a full review until it was given more time to calm down.

A- slightly hazy light gold color with a huge, fluffy, white head that seemingly lasts forever.

S- grain, hay, banana, pepper, sweet bready malt, light farmhouse "funk"

T- sweeter, fruitier and more intense than the nose implies. Some alcohol and juicy fruit esters. A light spicy/herbal character comes through in the middle which lends a strangely rustic feel and has me sipping more to search for it, not sure what it is out of yeast derivatives, malt (rye maybe?), the European hops or some combination of the above. As it warms the alcohol presence is surprisingly apparent, though not necessarily hot. Bitterness in finish is moderate to light with a dry, fruity, slightly spicy finish.

M- thin but not watery with high but not unbearable or gushing carbonation.

O- this beer is hard to pin down. The fruitiness and slight heat are detracting and it seems the yeast was definitely strained, yet other parts of this beer seem almost magical and draw me back for another sip, if only that character dominated instead of the esters I would be extremely happy.

Monday, July 7, 2014

C2 - Cranberry Cider #2 (Recipe and Tasting)

In early January of this year I found myself in possession of a 2 quart container of Trader Joe's Spice Apple Cider and a pot full of homemade cranberry sauce leftover from the holidays...what's a guy to do but ferment the two out in a free 1 gallon container?

To begin, I boiled the cranberry sauce (with a little bit of blueberry pie filling, since that was on hand as well) with 3 quarts of water and added to the fermenter with pectic enzyme.  After a week I poured off the rose colored liquid, ditching the thick sludge, and added back to the fermenter with just less than both quarts of cider.  The cranberry sauce was made with orange, ginger and cinnamon - all ingredients also found in the spiced cider, so it seemed like a nice match all around.  After a very vigorous fermentation that shot yeast up and out of the 1 gallon jug, the mix slowed down and seemed dormant after 3 weeks.  At 6 weeks I bottled with 3 beer carbonation tablets added to each.  At bottling the warm, uncarbonated cider, was very, very good resembling a phenolic grape based rosé with just light hints of the cranberry and apple acids and esters.

Tasted the cider today. Quick notes below.

A- pink tinged, peachy. Clear unless fully poured, at which point cranberries, yeast, and other sediment begin to show.

S- tart, berry, holiday spices, only vaguely apple-y.

T- off dry, tart, lightly spicy (cinnamon),
light cranberry, some orange peel.

M- very thin, extremely light carbonation just above still.

O- as with my other cider this is something that I find interesting but unremarkable and that others don't seem to care for, as they expect much more sweetness and apple juice flavor.  I find that it has a real multi-seasonal aspect where it could be consumed as enjoyably on a blistering summer day or a festive winter holiday and really anywhere between.  Not one I'll brew again but a worthwhile use of the random odds and ends I had on hand.