Brewing with newly developed/discovered ingredients is a necessity if you want to keep up. Sometimes I envy the people brewing 15 or 20 years ago when you knew what malts, hops, and yeasts were going to be available. These days it seems like every year there are 15 new yeast strains, 10 malts, and 5 hops. Then you find a great ingredient, but all of a sudden it's impossible to get your hands on again (looking at you Wyeast Brettanomyces anomalus, Golden Naked Oats, and Riwaka). Is it really practical (or even worthwhile) to brew with every new release under experimental conditions?
As much fun as I’ve had with split batch experiments to tease out the contributions of various sugars, hops, Brett strains, etc., in the end I’m not sure how well stripped down recipes answer the question of how to maximize an ingredient. Does using a crystal malt as the lone specialty grain in a low hopped beer really give you an accurate idea of what it will add to a hoppy porter? More than simply tasting and smelling the malt itself? Rather than trial The Yeast Bay’s Saison Blend in a bare-bones classic Dupont-style recipe, I opted to take their “grapefruit and orange zest” description to heart and load up on bold hops! The aroma blend (2:1:1 Mosaic, Citra, and Nelson Sauvin) was cribbed from the dry hopped solera that Nathan and I bottled last year (which skewed deliciously peachy).
The concept for this batch was heavily influenced by the hoppy-funky saisons that Prairie Artisan Ales has released (e.g., Hop, ‘Merica, Potlatch). Basic Brewing Radio has an excellent interview with their founder/brewer Chase Healey (James shipped me a couple bottles of their beer as well). I was surprised to find out Prairie dry hops as if they were IPAs and then pitches Brett at bottling with the beer already below 1P (1.004). I decided to do something similar, by keg-conditioning on the dry hops. I find that Brett produces an assertive character much more rapidly under pressure (key when you are looking to drink a beer like this while the hops are still fresh).
Saison ‘Merican Tasting
Smell – One of those magic sorts of smells with aromatics coming from the hops, saison yeast, Brettanomyces, and malt to form a unified wave of citrus, mango, and funk. Bold and inviting. The divisive Nelson “stink” starts to poke through as the beer warms.
Taste – The hops play lead despite being off them for more than a month, with loads of juicy tropical fruit. They dissolve into the funkier aspects in the finish (nothing too aggressive, more towards hay than horse stall). The saison yeast plays a supporting role with mild pepper. Much more citrusy than then blend in the solera, which I attribute to the yeast as well. Dry, but not bone dry thanks to the Golden Naked Oats. Moderate bitterness lingers for a moment, leaving me with the need for another sip.
Mouthfeel – Medium-light body, with medium-high carbonation. I was aiming slightly fuller than the classic saison to support the elevated hopping rate, and it works well.
Drinkability & Notes – An unequivocal success! One of the best saisons I've brewed (or tasted). This is exactly the sort of beer I love to drink, so much going on in such a neat little package. Not the sort of funk-bomb you need to struggle through, but enough to let you know it’s not a "Belgian IPA." I'll certainly be brewing this one again before too long.
Saison 'Merican Recipe
Batch Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.75
Anticipated OG: 1.054
Anticipated SRM: 4.2
Anticipated IBU: 37.1
Brewhouse Efficiency: 77 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes
74.4% - 8.00 lbs. Weyermann Bohemian Pils
18.6% - 2.00 lbs. Thomas Fawcett Rye Malt
4.7% - 0.50 lbs. Simpsons Golden Naked Oats
2.3% - 0.25 lbs. Weyermann Acidulated
0.75 oz. Columbus (Pellet, 13.30% AA) @ 60 min.
2.00 oz. Mosaic (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ 0 min.
1.00 oz. Citra (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ 0 min.
1.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ 0 min.
2.00 oz. Mosaic (Whole, 10.00% AA) Dry Hop
1.00 oz. Citra Whole (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
The Yeast Bay Saison Blend
White Labs WLP644 Brettanomyces bruxellensis var. Trois
Brettanomyces bruxellensis var. CB2 (Jason Rodriguez isolated)
Profile: Washington, DC
Sacch Rest - 75 min @ 148F
Brewed 5/4/14 by myself
Thomas Fawcett Rye Malt (smelled a bit musty).
2 g each CaCl and gypsum to the mash and sparge water. 1/2 tsp 88% lactic acid added to fly sparge. Collected 7.5 gallons of 1.046 runnings. Better efficiency than expected.
Added 0 min hops and allowed to stand for 20 minutes before starting the immersion chiller.
Chilled to 75F. Shook to aerate. Pitched tubes of The Yeast Bay's Saison Blend, White Labs Brett Trois, and dregs from my Single bottled with CB2. Left at 70F to ferment. Added 1/2 gallon of spring water to lower the OG.
5/15/14 Down to 1.011, 80% AA (tastes pretty good). Racked to a flushed keg with dry hops and 3
oz of table sugar. Left at warm room temperature.
5/20/14 Removed the dry hops, left at room temperature to continue conditioning.
6/4/14 Put on gas in the kegerator.