Saturday, April 25, 2015

Maisonette Tasting

Appearance- bright pale gold, cloudy with a billowy white head that lasts and lasts.

Smell- citrus, funk, berry, hay. The "funk" that dominates on first sniff seems to be an earthy hop derived character that fades to increased grapefruit peel, fresh fields, and the fruity berry that is mosaic.

Taste- lightly tart, fruity, citrus, pear, a little of that funk from the nose- whether it is hop or yeast derived- shows in middle. Finish is a lingering mild bitterness. Fairly juicy and refreshing.

Mouthfeel- medium bodied but finishing somewhat dry. This seems to work perfectly for this beer making it super mouth filling but also quenching.

Overall- a very good beer though a slight step down from the previous version that used a different yeast. I really like what this yeast brings to the table and will definitely pitch it again in another saison but would've liked the hops to be able to dominate more in this particular beer.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Maisonette (Mosaic Table Saison)

I rarely brew extract batches since moving to all grain.  While I feel that good beers can be made with extract, it is hard to get a world class beer and impossible to nail some styles. I  do always try to have extract on hand for making starters or filling in the gravity gaps in beers and  Maisonette started as a yeast starter, specifically a way to step up growler dregs from a Tired Hands Beautiful Luminescent Crystal. Props to Scott Janish and Sean Gugger for giving me the idea to step up their dregs from the growler. Beautiful Luminescent Crystal was a sort of moderately strong wheat saison that used the same base yeast blend of their also delicious and more famous flagship SaisonHands.

The yeast (or yeast blend) is suspected to be the Brasserrie de Blaugies saison strain (possibly with additional yeast or bacteria included) and produces a great fruity, slightly tart, and slightly funky character.  These characters seem like they could pair with a wide range of characteristics: classic grainy saisons, spiced/fruited/sour varieties, and especially fruity/tropical American hops.  After stepping the yeast up 2 times to get a 2 quart starter I found myself ready to brew but with only a few hours available and no chance to head to the homebrew store: time to make due with what I have on hand.

I still had some vacuum sealed Mosaic hops in my freezer from my very tasty Belgian session IPA and had been wanting to brew with them again.  With just a small amount of pils and wheat dry extracts on hand I decided that I would make a small 3 gallon batch (with an extra .5 gallons leftover for a different yeast).  This batch was intended to be a bit of a grisette, with lower gravity than a standard saison and 20% wheat and was also intended to highlight the yeast and hop aromatics, without too much bitterness or other distractions.  The recipe is so simple:

2 lbs. dry pilsner malt extract
1 lb.  dry wheat extract (65% wheat, 35% barley)
2 oz. turbinado sugar (to slightly increase the color and alcohol)
Mosaic hops .2 oz at 60 minutes, .2 oz at 15 minutes and .9 oz at flameout.
Mosaic dry-hop/keg hop tbd.

Brewing took about 3 hours from the start of gathering water until the wort was sufficiently cooled and yeast pitched.  the extra 1/2 gallon (the second starter was really just a small version of this beer so it wasn't decanted, leaving me with extra wort) was pitched with a mix of two saison blends I had on hand, a Brettanomyces heavy mix and a clean blend of two saison strains.  Both batches took off very quickly with the 3 gallon Tired Hands version blasting huge amounts of yeast and hops through the blowoff tube.

To nerd out about about the name a little, the word Maisonette is French for little house (maison meaning house) and is used in English to generally refer to 2 floor or other large apartments in the UK.  In a happy coincidence I happened to see the word for the first time while reading Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" the week before brewing this beer and realized that it also fits nicely as a portmanteau of the words Mosaic, Saison, and Grisette.

Fermentation on the Tired Hands yeast version has nearly completed.  Kegged the 1/2 gallon brett saison "B" version.


Brief tasting notes on version "B".  One common flavor descriptor that gets thrown around for mosaic hops is blueberry, but the fruity characters come off more to me as strawberry jam/juicy fruit gum, almost a processed or artificial berry component but when mixed with citrus, mango, and some light pine they are extremely juicy and mouthwatering.  This beer tastes excellent with the hops really dominating and I am super excited to see how the full version comes out.

Quick initial tasting of the Tired Hands fermented version, much cloudier, more tart, still lots of fruity pear and juicy fruit character.  Similar level of moderate bitterness but not as much hop aroma or taste. I'm guessing this is due to a combination of the yeast character covering some of it up and the vigorous ferment blowing a lot of hops out of the carboy that would have otherwise continued to provide their flavor.  Slightly cloudier in appearance but has about the same fullness of body despite being very highly attenuated.

Added 1.5 oz. of mosaic to the keg.  While the beer is tasty, it just seemed like it could use more hop character.

Quick tasting following a few days of keg hops: much danker and earthier with also some pine and citrus in the smell.  Like the aroma the taste is also more vegetal and earthy, not nearly as fruity as I had expected. Tartness also seems higher now than previously.  Still a tasty beer but just not on the same level as the extremely mouthwatering "brett saison" version.  I'm still holding out some hope that this can improve with more hop contact, but I doubt it will reach the amazing levels of the previous version.