Monday, December 17, 2012

Fifth Annual Dark Saison - Sour Red

Alex and I have been brewing variations on funky dark saison each fall for the last five years. The recipes are never the same, and for the most part aren't even that similar. Over the years the strength has fluctuated from around 7% ABV to over 9%, with the malts, yeasts, hops, spices, and dried fruit varying based on how we were feeling at the time.

Dark-Red Saison #5 handing out in secondary.The first two brews were on our friend Noah's system. We probably would have kept that up had he not moved to Colorado shortly after the second batch. Luckily for us, Noah recently returned to the area (moving back into the very same house). Hopefully we’ll get him on board for Dark Saison #6 next year!

I’m hoping to convince the big-wigs (ha) at Modern Times to brew something like this as an annual tradition. Maybe not this exactly, but I enjoy the concept of seasonal beers that aren’t just dusting off the same recipes each year. Creating variations on a theme, rather than dialing in a stagnant target. Jason Yester of Trinity Brewing really inspired me while I was at GABF (recording an episode of Basic Brewing Radio); he brews a huge number of saisons each year, many with seasonal ingredients (grain of paradise, pumpkin, cacao nibs, brown sugar candied endive, Buddha's hand etc. and that’s just one beer, Capitane Petite Bouddha! Jason’s ode to Peter Bouckaert of New Belgium).

The dark saison Alex and I brewed last year was the first time we didn’t sour the beer, relying on Brett to add earthy-funk without significant acidity. For #5 we went back to our sour ways, but brewed the lightest colored wort of the series thus far. The reddish hue is pretty unique for a saison, and we tried to give it a caramel malt profile reminiscent of a Flemish red. Our original plan was to age the beer on quince (tastes like an extra-tart pear), but sourcing them has proved difficult. Jackie O’s Quincedence is the only sour I’m aware of brewed with quince although I wasn’t enamored with the combination of the fruit with a wine barrel aged smoked Scotch ale, and earthy Brett.

As a result of the scarcity of quince, this batch is currently sitting without an added fruit, herbs, or spices. Alex and I have discussed splitting the 10 gallon batch a few ways to create additional variety. Even if we get our hands on quince, we may end up adding it to only a few gallons of the batch. I think this beer would go beautifully with rose hips, hibiscus, schisandra (five flavor fruit), rooibos, or something else we turn up at the local co-op. I’ll wait to see where the flavor is in a few more months before anything goes in.

Dark Saison V

Recipe Specifics
The first signs of a pellicle forming.-----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 10.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 28.75
Anticipated OG: 1.065
Anticipated SRM: 15.3
Anticipated IBU: 21.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65 %
Wort Boil Time: 95 Minutes

41.7% - 12.00 lbs. Munich
41.7% - 12.00 lbs. German Vienna
7.8% - 2.25 lbs. Oatmeal
3.5% - 1.00 lbs. Crystal 90L
1.7% - 0.50 lbs. CaraRed
1.7% - 0.50 lbs. Melanoidin Malt
1.7% - 0.50 lbs. Special B

1.25 oz. Comet (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ 65 min.

1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.

White Labs WLP585 Belgian Saison III

Water Profile
Profile: Washington, DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 60 min @ 156 F

10/5/12 Made a 1.5 L stir plate refresher for the yeast I harvested from the Spelt Saison about a month earlier. Yeast starter took off quickly.

10/6/12 Oats were Country Choice Toasted. 4.5 lbs of the Munich was Briess 6-row, the rest was German.

Chilled to 75 F with the plate chiller. 45 seconds of pure O2. Pitched half the undecanted starter, a few ounces of East Coast Yeast Bug Farm IV, and the dregs from bottles of Dark Saison IV and Duchessic.

11/10/12 Racked to secondary, no fruit or oak yet.

11/10/13 Added 20 oz of quince paste, dissolved in an equal amount of boiling water.

4/13/14 Bottled with 3 1/8 oz of table sugar, and a splash of rehydrated Pasteur Champagne yeast.

9/25/14 Tasting notes for this tart, fruity, interesting addition to the series.


Unknown said...

Another simpleQ...when harvesting yeast, how soon do you harvest from previous batch and what conditions/duration/temp will you store that culture and how would you prepare it before pitching into a fresh wort?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Ideally I harvest when primary fermentation is complete and the beer is ready to rack/bottle. Again ideally I repitch immediately. I try to time out my batches so I can do this whenever possible.

In this case I harvested the yeast and it sat in the fridge for a couple weeks before we had a chance to brew. Anything under a month you should be fine just repitching after warming the slurry to about the same temperature as the chilled wort. Longer than that and I would make a starter to raise the viability/health of the yeast.

Only harvest if you are 100% confident in your sanitation, or if you're brewing a sour beer!

Anonymous said...

I just brewed a rose hip and hibiscus sour saison myself. Mostly pils with some C75, Munich and Rye for character. Used a starter made from the dregs from a bottle of Bam Biere along with a starter made from a couple old smack packs of Wyeast Biere de Garde. Hoping to "dry hop" with about a quarter pound of hibiscus once the krausen falls back down. Should give a nice, saturated red/pink with fruity sourness from the hibiscus. Can't wait!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

That might be more hibiscus than you need assuming its a five gallon batch. I'd suggest an ounce or less to start, unless you've had experiences that suggest otherwise! Sounds delicious, good luck!

Beernoulli said...

You got all the red color from just a half pound of carared? It's a little hard to tell, but it looks almost like a red wine in the picture.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

CaraRed isn't very dark, only about 20L, so on its own it'll just give a light orange color. Having the other dark crystal malts in there (Special B, C90) plus the Munich and melanoidin given the beer a deep amber-red color that the CaraRed seems to tilt more to the reddish side. Always hard to judge the color of a beer from the carboy because it tends to make the color darker and more saturated, but samples of this one have looked pretty red (comparable to the Red-Rye IPA I had on tap a few months ago).

Anonymous said...

Harvested some yeast from a wheat beer for a berliner weisse. Poor sanitation. Paid the price. Now have 40+ beers that smell like burning tyres and plastic.

Anonymous said...

They have quince paste at trader joes, called membrillo, been thinking of doing this recipe and using that, the thought of the different flavors sounds really nice.