Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Perdue; Spelt Saison Tasting Notes

Perdue; Spelt Saison Tasting Notes

I have been enjoying this beer for a little while now.  It has always been a solid drinking beer that has hit the spot and quenched the sensations I was aiming for when pouring it out.  However, today, as fall is fully setting in around us it does a good job of helping me to reflect and smile on a good summer of brewing.  The leaves are changing, it is now in the low 40s/high 30s here some mornings, and our garden is being put to bed.  But, I can pour a bulb of this beer and when I taste it, it reminds me of sitting on the back porch not too long ago when it was 90 degrees.

This beer was a success in a lot of ways because it was a mystery to me for a couple of reasons.  I was using a new Saison Yeast (ECY08), a new grain (Spelt), and I built the recipe around what I have had success with in other saison recipes I have created and enjoyed.  But the biggest success comes from the fact that it is a pleasure to drink.  It does exactly what it should; it tastes great, smells great, and reminds me of a wonderful summer.  This was the summer of brewing for me...I brewed five of them alone and while this one wasn't the last one I brewed (That would be Autumnal Saison, which is sitting on a brett cake right now) it is my favorite thus far.

Mission accomplished.

Look: I must say that this beer turned out to be much more golden than I had expected.  During fermentation, both secondary and primary, it was a lot milkier looking than expected.  I had chalked it up to the spelt being high in proteins but was still interested to see how it would clarify.  The yeast did a wonderful job of chewing everything up and this beer turned out a wonderful yellow & golden straw color that just screamed refreshing.  The fluffy white head doesn't stay around too long but once it thins out it remains for the duration of the drink.  There is also minimal lacing.

Aroma: This yeast is really the star of the show here.  In similar recipes I can usually pick up some of the Styrian Goldings in the nose but this one really showcases the yeast.  The overwhelming characteristic on the nose is peachy spiciness.  The nose is also slightly tart but that really bleeds into the peachy spice.  I also get hints of wheat and lemon/lemongrass.  The aroma is right where I want it.  I really like my saisons to be spicy and peppery.

Taste: On the front end I get a bit of tangyness.  This balances really well with the nose.  The lemon/lemongrass really comes through in the taste as well.  There is a pleasant alcoholic warmth that you pick up on the backend of the taste that does not last too long.  The taste is also quite dry but does not feel thin at all.  

Mouthfeel: As mentioned before this beer is dry and a bit tart.  When you get a sip in your mouth you get that tartness in the cheeks and the tongue.  The tartness doesn't last long and you are left with that nice alcoholic feel.

Drinkability & Thoughts: I really like this beer.  It is fun to drink and leaves you with a nice refreshing feeling.  This beer is meant to be consumed during the hotter months of the year.  When brewing this again next year I would like to brew it earlier in the summer when the temps are warmer.  I want to do this not only because it will drink better during that time of year but because it would be fun to push this yeast to higher temps to see what kind of esters it produces when pushed to the higher end (and maybe beyond) of its ranges.  I would also like to use different hops with it next time.  Maybe some German Tradition and or Hersbrucker to accentuate the spiciness of the yeast and a finishing yeast that compliments the fruitiness.

Overall, it was a crowd pleaser and it was fun to use the two different spelts I got from Valley Malt.

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.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Autumnal Saison

Rye Saison; Autumnal Saison

In another effort to make use of the remaining warm weather and some recent offerings from my Valley Malt Malt of the Month Club I decided to try my hand at brewing one last saison of the summer that would be a nice warm drinking and crisp saison to enjoy as the leaves begin to change, the wool shirts get taken out, and more nights are spent by the fire pit.   Also, I did find myself smiling at the idea of brewing a saison on Labor Day as saisons history goes; I think it was quite fitting.

The Rye that this recipe was built around was grown in New York and malted in Hadley, Massachusetts.  It had a projected SRM of around 11.5 Lovibond and had a nice amber hue to it post malting.  The smell of it was simply wonderful.  Strong bread notes with hints of chocolate and an undertone of spice.  Upon crushing the grains I was overwhelmed by the intense deep dark chocolate smell.  I had thought about adding some crystal to the grist to ensure an amber hue but upon smelling this decided against it and that the play between this and the German Pils would be really something nice and stand alone on its own nicely.

I had never crushed Rye before so I did a bit of research and “field testing” to get the rollers set just right before crushing the Rye.  I ran the Rye through by itself, re-adjusting the rollers, mixed the Rye back into the uncrushed base malt and ran that through as normal.  The smell of the two together was quite nice.  The chocolate was definitely less pronounced but the two combined gave me nice malty, bready, and still a bit spicy grist.  The same could be said about the mash once I had mashed in.

Back to what I was going for with this beer before I get too off track:  If you remember from a while back, I brewed and bottled my Saison de Posey.  That particular saison was finished with WLP645 Brettanomyces Claussenii, cloudberry honey, and some Jolly Pumpkin dregs.  It had been sitting on that wonderful yeast cake for about 5 months and once I racked the beer off of it I was able to rack a bit of my Fletcher Sour Brown (pre soured) onto it as I put that into secondary and pitched its ECY01 mixture….more on that later.  I racked a bit of beer on top of the cake for a couple reasons…A.) the color of Fletcher was beautiful and could add a bit of deep color to the saison and B.) because it is hard to let a good yeast cake go when you have spent so much time with it.

My thought was that this beer would play out really well if it were to spend some time in secondary hanging out with this yeast cake.  The spice of the rye, the fruitiness from my aroma hops and the primary fermentation with ECY08 Saison Brasserie, and the bitterness/piney characteristics of the bitter hops should all balance out nicely.  I wanted this beer to have SOME of those fruity characteristics but not be too far swayed in that direction as I picture this beer being a bit more spicy, alcoholic, and having more “crisp evening” feel than a “wicked hot summer thirst quencher” feel.  Looking for balance here people…or maybe harmony is a better term.  I have certainly turned this into an idyllic beer haven’t I?

Will I accomplish all of this?  I am not sure, but I am confident this will turn into a good beer.
Recipe, Notes, & Details

9 lbs German Pilsner
2.5 lbs Amber Rye (11.5 lovibond)

150 degree single infusion mash @ 60 min

60 min

1 oz Columbus @ 60 min
.5 oz Simcoe @ 5 min
.5 oz Citra @ 5 min

Yeasts & Adjuncts:
ECY08; Saison Brasserie starter.  Made ¾ liter starter well in advance. Aerated on stir plate.  My wife had a baby so I had to postpone brew day.  Cold crashed starter in fridge.  Warmed up to room temp on brew day, re-suspended yeast and pitched without decanting.

Saison de Posey yeast cake for secondary fermentation.  WLP645 and Jolly Pumpkin Dregs.

6.5 gallons pre boil
Pre boil gravity 1.045
Original Gravity: 1.057
Gravity at Secondary:
Final Gravity:

45 seconds of oxygen

9/5/12- 48 hours after pitching slight signs of fermentation began manifesting at 4 pm.  By 6 pm there was a full on 6 inch krausen that required blow off tube.  Fermentation began at 78 F, ramped up to 80 and held there.

9/8/2012- Gravity already down to 1.012.  Transferred before the ECY08 was done fermenting so that I could leave a bit of fermentables for the brett cake to chew on.  Pre pitching onto the yeast cake the saison was a beautiful golden color.  Almost exactly what I was hoping for.  I am hoping that wort from the sour brown I transferred onto the cake to keep it safe and covered won't change the color too much but will only add a deeper hue to the golden color to give it a bit more of that amber and deep fall color.  The aroma was very pleasant and similar to the young aroma of the last couple times I used this yeast.  A tad bit sulfury on the nose (which quickly dissipates as the yeast works and relaxes).  However the spice from the Rye and peppery notes from the yeast dominate this beer in most pleasant way.  I think it will play nice with the sweet/fruit contributions of the WLP645.  Also, lots of dark fruit in the nose.  The taste and the aroma aren't too far off from one another right now.  Again, I expect that to change as the beer matures. 
Post blending I was very happy with the color of the beer.  It is nice and amber hued almost looking burgundy/dark red.  Very excited to see how this beer ages.

10/10/2012 Sample
10/10/2012- Gravity down to 1.008. Fermentation is still happening but very slowly.  There wasn't a lot for the bugs to eat when I pitched it in but I do hope the yeast cake keeps developing.  Color is now deep golden/straw and much more clarified/brilliant than the sample in the picture to the right during transfer.  The bugs are doing a great job clearing things up.  Aroma is tart.  Horsey with lots of wet hay and grass.  Taste is dry and tart.  Not too fruity.  There were more fruity notes than I thought there would be given the aroma.