This summer has been pretty warm here in Vermont. This has certainly effected my brewing in that I do not brew less beer but brew more of a certain variety of beer. This summer has been the summer of saisons. I have brewed 5 saisons since April. When I write that down it seems slightly outrageous b/c not too many of my friends like saisons enough to have a few every night or so. I suppose that means I am drinking a lot of saisons in addition to brewing a lot of saisons. That, I like.
It is something about being out in the yard and working in the garden that really makes me feel proud to drink a saison. Not only do I jokingly tell my wife that I am earning it by working so hard but I am getting in touch with history by drinking it while I toil away in the sun and dirt. Quite frankly, I think I am playing a major part in the historical preservation of how and when a saison can be enjoyed. So there, guilt is no longer an issue.
Another reason I have been brewing so many saisons is that they are so fun to play with. I have been experimenting with a couple variables this year that I haven’t before. First and foremost I have been adding less spices, zests, and such to my boils and focusing on letting the natural flavors of the yeast shine through. I have also been playing with dandelion additions in the mash and boil as well as new yeasts. I was lucky enough to pick up multiple East Coast Yeast saison strains from Love2Brew. I acquired 3 bottles of ECY08 Saison Brasserie Blend and a couple of ECY03 Farmhouse Brett Blends. Being a member of the Malt of the Month Club through Valley Malt also keeps me supplied with various specialty offerings. My first pick up included some lightly malted spelt and some maybe 40-60 lovibond malted spelt.
Todd Haug from Surly Brewing said once that they don’t brew to style very often but their Cynic Saison is the only beer that really fits into a style… “but that is great because saison is one of the most open and variable styles.” And one of the reasons I love saisons so much is that they are always different. Different spices, different hop aromas, different SRMs, and almost always brewed with something fun and interesting added to the boil. The consistent piece about them that always get me excited is that effervescence they have in the mouth feel. I still remember the first time I had Saison DuPont…it was the beer that tipped me over the edge with Belgian beers. I just did not understand them before then. So with that being said, I always like to try something new when I brew a saison.
This brew was pretty mild in experimentation so I could really get a sense of what the ECY08 could do for more adventurous saison brew days. I was also interested to see what the spelt would so I kept the rest of the grist pretty simple.
Recipe, Notes, & Details:
· 9 lbs of Belgian Pils
· Approx 1 lb of very lightly malted spelt
· Aprrox 1lb of crystal spelt (40ish based on outcome of beer)
· Overshot my mash in temp. Mashed at 150 for 60 min.
· 60 min
· .25 oz Stryian Golding @ First Wort Hop
· 1 oz Columbus @ 60
· 1.75 oz Stryian Golding during chill, added @ 170 F
· East Coast Yeast ECY08 Saison Brasserie Blend. Super fresh so starter took off in a hurry
· Pitched at 69 F
· OG 1.048
· FG 1.008
· Attenuation: 80%
· Collected 6.5 gallons of 1.036 wort
Aerated with Oxygen for 45/60 seconds
6/16/2012- Gravity at 1.048. Explosive fermentation within a couple of hours. Had to add blow off system and quickly filled the growler with blow off and had to another. Holy smokes. Seemed to be lots of protein moving around in there from the spelt? Color is much more creamy than I have seen before. I imagine this is due to the spelt?
6/20/2012- Gravity at 1.010/1.011. Deep sulphory smell. We hay, wet grass. Thick and dank smell. No brett in this one but according to Al this strain produces those smells when in the initial stages of fermenting, much like a lager strain.
6/26/2012- Gravity 1.009/1.010. Previous aromas are gone. Starting to flocculate some so the color is becoming more of the typical saison yellowish/orange. The color was very creamy before and during fermentation settled down so I was wondering if the spelt really had that much to do with it. Sample was dry tasting and a bit peppery; more so than before. Has some tartness to it. Aroma is that of ripe fruit, mango, peaches.
7/2/2012- Gravity 1.009. Mango aroma. Bit of pepper in there too. Keeping in primary until flocculation clears it up a bit.
7/12/2012- Gravity 1.008. Cooler temps helped to flocculate this bad boy out. While it still isn’t as clear as I’d like it, it is much better than before. Color is also where I expected it to be now with it becoming more yellow. Transferred to secondary.
7/25/2012- Kegged and purged with Co2. Has developed into a bit more pronounced spice in the nose and taste. I wonder if that is from the spelt or the yeast. Also has some very mild warm alcohol notes in the aroma. Has also developed and refined the mango/peach notes from before.
Won’t be hooking this up to gas and carbing for a while as fridge is broken and gas is almost out. When it rains it pours.
Full tasting notes will be updated once the beer is fully carbonated and ready to rock.
10/7/2012- Took second place in Category 16 (Sub cat E; Belgian Specialty) Belgian and French Ales in Southern New England Regional homebrew competition.