Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Saison 'Merican - Hoppy Funk

Spent hops left in the kettle after this saison.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).

This is the fuzzy looking rye malt, I tossed the last pound.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).

The rye malt from a previous batch, looks much more normal, no fuzz.
The only unexpected variable was the Thomas Fawcett rye malt (freshly delivered from Rebel Brewer). My first whiff was a bit musty, but not in a bad way. It wasn’t until after brewing that I took a closer look at the remaining pound and noticed a dusty coating (compare to say the rye malt in my Whiskey Barrel Rye Stout). Luckily the beer tastes fine, and I haven't started hallucinating....

Saison ‘Merican Tasting

A glass of saison on a sunny afternoon, pretty sight!
Appearance – The beer itself is not too far from orange juice (extra pulp). Hazy, but with a luminous quality. The head is billowy, sticky, and very bright white. Looks like a cross between an IPA and a rustic saison, no complaints here.

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

Recipe Specifics
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)

Water Profile
Profile: Washington, DC

Mash Schedule
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.


Benjamin Moritz said...

Hi Mike,

Quick question. If you were to bottle this, would you kill the Brett with cam tablets in order to prevent bottle bombs, or let it keep fermenting until it hits a lower FG? Looks delicious!

Chris George said...

Great recipe, you've solved my quandry of what to brew tomorrow. Can we just sub Brett Brux or Orval Dregs for the CB2?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

For bottling this beer, I'd aim to get the beer as dry as possible (mash at 146 for 90 minutes, replace 5-10% of the base malt with sugar, finish the primary fermentation hot etc.). If you are down to 1.003 or lower, you should be OK as long as you use heavy bottles. Once it's carbed, get the beer cold (that will slow the Brett, and help preserve the hop aroma). I try to avoid chemicals when I can.

CB2 is on the funkier side, so Orval dregs or a classic Brett brux would be a great place to turn!

Amos said...

Did you repitch this blend? I noticed that I got a LOT of sulfur from my second and third pitches, and I'm wondering if this is characteristic of the blend, or if I mishandled it. Both these worts had fairly large proportions of wheat, I don't know if that could be responsible.

james dizzle said...

i was just wondering how you bottle the funy beers as i understand vinnie cilurzo doesnt bottle until 1.006 but is you methoid of re yeasting to priming sugar ratio for a efervecent sour

kurineru said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks for another very interesting post. I have a batch of Dupont-style saison brewed with Yeast Bay's Saison Blend ready to bottle. My plan is to use your "Bottle Conditioning with Brett" guidelines to eyedropper in some Brett Brux slurry for a few of the bottles and cellar them until next summer to see how they turn out. I'm tempted to repeat your recipe to make use of my yeast cake.

Shawn said...

'Merica is a great beer. I brewed a clone attempt last year, where I split the beer in half - a non-Brett half, and then the other half I added bottle dregs of all-Brett beers after the gravity got to 1.008 or so. Both came out great, one of the better beers I've ever brewed.

Recipe/approach is here if you're interested: http://meekbrewingco.blogspot.ca/2013/10/brewing-prairie-artisan-ales-merica.html

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I didn't repitch the blend. I would have liked to, but I had too many other beers lined up. I may harvest from the keg if I'm ready for another saison when this one kicks. Wheat (and repitching) shouldn't cause sulfur production, maybe the fermentation was colder?

No simple rule like 1.006 can capture the range of sour beers possible. I've had sour beers stop at 1.020 and 1.000. Depends on the base beers and the microbes. As long as the gravity is stable for a month, you're safe.

'Merica is a great example of how interesting a SMaSH beer can be!

Dan said...

What about using the WLP 670 American farmhouse blend along with the WLP 644 Brett Trois? Would this produce a similar effect?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Won't be the same, but it should give a mix of fruit and funk, and it should still be delicious!

John Lutz said...

If I don't have the yeastbay blend, what do you think about pitching a pack of french saison yeast with a small starter of brett trois? I plan on doing this for the primary.

Dan said...

Thanks for the reply, hard do get the east coast yeast out here in Montana... We'll just call it the western version. Looking forward to brewing this, thanks for taking the time to write about your experiences, your site is quite the brewing inspiration! Looking forward to reading your book.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I'd add a funkier strain as well if you want to get closer to mine. Trois is great, but it'll boost the fruitiness of the hops without coming across as classic Brett - especially young.

Saison was born at farmhouses with brewers using what they had on hand, great to do the same! Jason Yester of TRiNiTY Brewing in Colorado has a great article in this month's Zymurgy about his take on that.

John Lutz said...

What are the pros of adding the brett with the brewers yeast at the start of primary compared to adding brett in secondary?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Getting the Brett in early speeds up the process a bit, gives the Brett access to some oxygen and simple sugars for quicker growth. You'll also get more fruity esters because the Brett does a greater share of the fermentation. Depends on what your goals are and what the rest of your process looks like.

testblogger said...

How can I increase saison character? Heat? I have my saisons out in the garage, and not much is happening. I live in the midwest and we've had some hot days since I brewed my two week old saison. For the first week, it was inside my house. For the second week and beyond, it's been in the garage. It's still fairly neutral. Using 3711 yeast. Should I give it more time?

For my next batch, which I brewed on Saturday, I started the fermentation in the garage in the hopes that higher temps early in the fermentation would impart more saison character. One batch has dupont yeast. The other batch has prairie artisan ales birra dregs. I can taste the belgiany character somewhat in both (yes I've already tasted), but I want more out of these.


Tom Ahlstrom said...

Great post, thanks for all the great insight.

I've never naturally conditioned a beer in a keg like this, but I'm about to start to attempt to let the brett add complexity to the brew as it conditions.

Is there any difference in determining how much priming sugar to add when doing it in a keg instead of bottling?

How did you remove the dry hops from the keg after adding the priming sugar? I imagine the keg was already pressurized and you had to depress it to remove them. Did you just have them in a mesh grain bag of some sort?

Thanks much!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Most of the fermentation character is imparted during the active fermentation. Likely that was during the first week. Higher temperatures will increase the ester production. 3711 is a bit mellower than the Dupont strain, it may be more what you are looking for. You might also consider a ferulic acid rest to oost phenols.

There are some sources that claim it requires less priming sugar to condition a keg than bottles, but I've never found that to be the case. You can always adjust the carbonation once the beer goes on tap.

I vented the head space and quickly pulled the bag out. I use a weighted nylon stocking to contain the dry hops.

Tom Ahlstrom said...

Thanks a ton for the response! Two quick follow up questions I should have asked earlier.

You added lactic acid to the sparge water. What's the reason for that? To lower the pH of the sparge water?

You also added CaCl and gypsum to the mash and sparge water. Is that just to manage the mash and sparge pH based on your brew water or is that specifically something you find helps with Saisons?

Thanks again!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

As you fly sparge the buffering capacity of the malt is slowly eroded. This allows the pH to rise as the gravity drops. The result can be the extraction of tannins. Adding acid to lower the pH of the sparge water to 6-5.5 helps to reduce tannin extraction. Not a big deal with batch sparging, but this is a beer I wanted to finish on the low end of the usual pH range anyway.

Chloride helps provide body, sulfate helps to produce a crisper bitterness. Both things I enjoy in a saison in moderation. They could have just as easily been added to the wort directly, but DC's water is on the edge of not having enough calcium, so I usually add to the mash and sparge.

waialuagoldens said...

If I can't find Golden Naked Oats, what would you recommend as a substitute?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

No great substitute for Golden Naked Oats. Really a unique malt. You could certainly add half flaked/quick oats and half CaraVienna. That'd be somewhere in the same neighborhood. Good luck!

505-Brewer said...

Hows this beer holding up. I find Mosaic starts out a bit petroleum, becomes lovely then fades into blah quite quickly. Inspired me to brew this beer using Galaxy and Pacific Jade instead of Mosaic. Any reason to not let it ferment warmer? I used forbidden fruit, french saison ad brett trois.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

This one kicked a couple weeks ago, but remained very nice to the end. Between the CO2 purge and the Brett, it had good protection for oxidation. I haven't found Mosaic to be petro-like when young, but it does have a bit of that same "edge" that Nelson does for me.

Ferment at whatever temperature works for your yeast and your tastes!

Bryan Reeves said...

Mike - I hope you have a great time in Boston tonight. Couldn't be there - had to work.

What is your take on Wyeast de Bom? No doubt the Lacto takes off quickly, but Wyeast doesn't really have much more to say about the rest of the blend. When will the funky / horsey flavors kick in?



Christopher Carver said...

I just racked my version into a C02-flushed corney. I'd like to add the table sugar now, but I did not do it as I was filling the keg, which would've better mixed it. Do you think it would be detrimental to add now?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I've got a pack of Wyeast De Bom, but haven't used it yet. I wish they were more forthcoming with the details. I'm not a big fan of proprietary homebrew recipe kits, hop blends etc. It makes it much more difficult to use! What if I want to add more of the primary yeast strain or judge if final gravity is final? I'd expect a similar timeline on the funk to any other Brett beer, unless they have some new strain that is considerably different than those on the market already.

I see no issue taking the lid off, pouring the priming solution in, purging again, and rolling it around to mix. Just give it long enough to fully condition before putting it on tap!

Tom Ahlstrom said...

Hey Mike,

I tried a similar keg conditioning technique with a weighted dry hop bag to what you describe in this recipe. The main difference was that I added 4 oz of sugar and left the hops in for 7 days instead of 5. I cleared the head space to remove the dry hop bag but I had a gusher! I had a tough time getting the pressure low enough to even remove the lid. I eventually did it, but not before I lost a fair amount of foam out the top of the lid and onto the wall.

I'm assuming this isn't normal. Any thoughts on the cause? I'm pretty sure the beer was fully attenuated as it was down to 1.005 and had been there for a while prior to kegging. Too much sugar or too long with the hops?


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Likely a combination of things. The more carbonation you have (time, sugar, and yeast viability) the harder the hops will be to remove. In most cases I'll just leave them in the keg, but in this case the bag got caught in the pressure relief valve when I checked it so I had to get them out. Chilling the keg down will increase the beer's ability to hold onto CO2 and thus would make the process easier. Hope that helps!

CRUSADER1612 said...

Hey Mike, great post, sounds pretty tasty to me.
If you were to sub out Nelson what would you use? It's a pretty unique hop I know, but I was looking to make this an all american affair. (Here in NZ Nelson is used alot, and I want to try and get around that). I was then thinking about an instant re-brew using all NZ hops, more along the lines of the Zealn' Saison in you more recent posts, which will utilise Nelson etc.

Kevin Kiernan said...

Hi Mike,

I'm just finishing up a keg of this beer, and it is fantastic. The one comment I have is that the hop aromatics faded pretty quickly in favor of a very dry bitterness and Brett funk. I think I might emphasize the fruitiness of the hops by adjusting my water levels, and I'm wondering what water profile you used. I see that you added sulfate and chloride, but you don't give concentrations for the adjusted water. Thanks!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Nelson Sauvin is notorious for fading quickly. Even with keg conditioning, I'd highly suggest purging the keg a couple times before and after filling to minimize oxidation as much as possible.

Water profile really won't change the aromatics, but it certainly could mellow the bitterness. I was around 120 PPM calcium, 140 PPM sulfate, and 110 chloride.

Kevin Kiernan said...

Awesome, thanks for responding. I'm very fastidious about purging my kegs, so I don't think that's the problem. In fact I had some more of this beer tonight, and the aroma is still pretty spot-on. As you say, the bitterness is a little bit harsh. I'm on DC municipal water too, and your numbers look like mine would with the same additions. However, I added sulfate but not chloride, so my water came out to roughly Ca 81 ppm, Sulfate 145 ppm, and Chloride 54 ppm. I think when I brew something like this in the future, I may dial back the sulfate a bit, to about 75 ppm.

Chris George said...

Just kegged my version of this, which was verbatim to your recipe. Smells and tastes like a tropical fruit basket. Don't get much saison funk/spice, but I'll rejudge that when it's carbed and drinkable. I get HUGE grapefruit.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Great to hear! The nice thing about a beer like this is that it has a life after the hops soften (unlike an IPA). Give it time and it'll take you on a fun trip.

beerbecue said...

Have you ever had any DMS issues doing hop stands with pilsner malt?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Nope. The 90 minute boil, especially with the high surface-to-volume ratio of a homebrew kettle, will convert most of the SMM to DMS and volatilize it by flame-out. Combine that with a warm/vigorous ale fermentation and the little bit of DMS produced during the hop stand will be scrubbed. Commercial breweries routinely leave their wort within a few degrees of boiling for 45-90 minutes during whirlpooling, settling, and knockout without issue.

beerbecue said...

Solid. Thanks for the reply!

Dylan Austin said...

Mike, I hope I'm not being repetitive with this question, but was the acid malt included throughout the entire duration of the mash or added the last 20 minutes? Really appreciate everything you do for the home-brew community and enjoying the American Sour book.


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It was in there from the start. ~2% acid malt is what I need with my water and a pale grist to hit a reasonable pH. It isn't to noticeably acidify the beer as I did with 20%+ acid malt previously.

Chad Snetsinger said...

Mike, according to your notes it appears you pitched the 'tubes' of yeast (TYB saison blend)and brett along with bottle dregs and were able to ferment down to 1.011 in 11 days, all without a starter(s). I understand starters are not typically recommended for blends, but would you recommend against making a starter (separate starter for the Brett of course) for this particular recipe? I plan on brewing this next week, but have a slight fear of under pitching and/or stalled fermentation.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It you want more cells, no big harm in making a starter with an all-brewer's yeast blend. The ratio won't shift enough in a couple generations to radically change the fermentation character. If a vial is fresh for a moderate gravity beer I've never had an issue pitching direct, especially in a beer where some yeast character is intended. Best of luck, let me know how it turns out!

psymon said...

Am I understanding the procedure correctly?

You mash low for maximum fermentables and attenuation, meaning very low amounts of unfermentables, then you prime with sugar for the Brett to then keg condition on the hops?

Little to no dextrins will lead to a quicker turn around time on the Brett? (in theory)

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Exactly! Brett doesn't need dextrins to produce it's character, look at Orval which doesn't receive Brett until bottling. Pressure (by some unknown mechanism) seems to increase the speed with which you get funky aromatics. The goal here is a beer that combines fresh hop aromatics with funk, tricky!

Tim Dixon said...

Hey Mike, Just brewed this recipe yesterday and psyched to try it out. A couple of questions. I've been maintaining a Brett Brux culture in a growler on top of my fridge so decided to use that for this batch. I made a 1200ml starter on stir plate for 2 days, but when I pitched it last night I noticed that band-aid/almost musty aroma. Am I cooked, or is this normal? Also, do I need to remove the dry hop bag? I read somewhere on this thread that somebody got a gusher from the table sugar conditioning/fermentation when they went to pull out the hop bag. I'd rather avoid this if possible since now I do my IPA's dry hopping with bag in the keg and just leave it there. Thanks, and love the book man. Cheers, Tim

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Starters often smell a bit weird, I wouldn't worry too much!

You can leave the hops in, I do for IPAs as well (although they are usually cold for the length of dry hopping) - whole hops would be prefered. If you want to remove the hops, chill the beer first to reduce foaming!

Let me know how it goes!

Tim Dixon said...

Thanks for the advice Mike! I'm going to follow your advice on chilling the beer first. Thanks again, and I'll let ya know how she turns out.

Tim Dixon said...

Just racked onto keg and took a taste. Tasty doesn't begin to describe it. Question though about the keg conditioning: I just threw in 3 tbsp domino sugar without boiling first. Was that wrong, and am I cooked? Also, I noticed that the beer went above the dip tube for the gas. Should I pull out a liter or 2? Worried this might make taking out the hops a nightmare in a couple of days. Thanks again for the recipe, and keep up the good work!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It would be ideal to boil the sugar first. That accomplishes two things, it dissolves the sugar (so it doesn't serve as nucleation sites) and it ensures it is sanitized. Not the end of the world, especially in a funky beer going into a keg!

Not a big deal if the beer goes above the gas in. Might be good to chill the keg before pulling the hops to keep CO2 in solution!

Glad to hear it is tasting good so far!

Tim Dixon said...

Two questions: what PSI would you set this at for 6ft of beer line to the tap? 18? Also (side note regarding IPA) do you do the "crank"carbing method for IPA's when there is a nylon hop bag in there with whole Citra? Sorry for random question but I am having juicy east coast IPA in one keg and this delicious Merican Saison in the other. Trying to time things a little....impatient friends and all.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Seems like 18 PSI would just be pouring foam on 6 ft lines. The longer the lines, the more resistance, and thus the more pressure you can apply. Serve it as bubbly as you can, but longer lines may help.

I usually just set the pressure to my serving pressure, give it a week, and then start enjoying even if the carb is a low. I'd rather not vent, which could carry hop aromatics out with the excess CO2!

chase thorn said...

Long time reader here... How do feel about using WL Belgian Sour Mix 1 for fermentation? Anything you would recommend in addition to using the Belgian Sour mix 1?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

At a minimum I would pitch a starter of the saison strain of your choosing too. I'm not a big fan of the Belgian Sour mix, so I'd go with some milder strains (like the WLP644 I have in here) plus something like WLP650 for a bit of funk.

Michael Hawthorne said...

Does the "WLP644 = Saccharomyces" change anything you would use for the yeasts? I'm wondering if dropping that or the saison blend would work.

Related Posts with Thumbnails