Monday, February 18, 2013

Lomaland - Saison Test Batch #2

Saison wort coming to a boil in a keggle.When I tell people that Modern Times will be canning our four year-round beers, the one they invariably get most excited about is Lomaland. The availability of a reasonably priced, ~5% ABV saison in that format is really appealing. 16 oz seems like the ideal serving size for a refreshing beer with peppery yeast, and firm complementary hopping. We're going for a crisp beer, one that calls back to the half-imagined pastoral history of saison as a quenching restorative beverage brewed on Belgian farms (even if our methods and equipment are a bit more modern).

This recipe is pretty similar to the first version. Tastings determined that the flaked spelt added to the original wasn't worth the added effort and expense of obtaining it for us, so we swapped it for flaked wheat. We also doubled the corn to make it's flavor a more prominent feature.

Neither the White Labs Saison 2 nor Saison 3 that we split the first batch between was a slam-dunk choice for yeast. I preferred the Saison 3, while Jacob and several tasting panels (sign up for the newsletter to get in on one) leaned towards the Saison 2. For this batch we selected Wyeast 3711 French Saison. It's a very easy strain to work with, fermenting quickly and completely even without pushing the temperature toward 90 F. It produces a higher level of tropical fruit esters than most other saison strains, but it does really well with hops and spices. Jacob and members of the brewing team recently brewed a test-batch of their own, using a variety of yeast strains. Jacob will be bringing a number of bottles when he visits DC for the Craft Brewers Conference in March for us to compare.

Refractometer on a sunny day.Currently on BeerAdvocate, out of the top-50 rated saisons, only three are under 6% ABV (i.e., Upright Flora Rustica, Tired Hands HandFarm, and Hill Farmstead Flora). Stiff competition to say the least! The latter two are barrel-aged and mixed-fermented, putting them out of the range of what we'll be able to do for the standard version of this beer. They are special variants of Farmhands and Florence respectively, we're already talking about getting Lomaland into barrels with bugs as soon as possible. Upright's Flora Rustica was infused with yarrow and calendula; spices/herbs would be much easier for us to accomplish on a large scale.

I'll be producing a number of infusions to mix on a small scale with the finished beer to begin felling-out which flavors might add to the character without obscuring the yeast. Currently we're planning on trying chamomile, pepper/ginger, rooibos, and a few others. With the fruitiness of the yeast, I think peppery/earthy flavors will be more valuable. If you have any suggestions please leave a comment! Half of the batch will be aged with a few unique species of Brettanomyces, but more on that in a future post.

Lomaland #2

Spent grain: barley, corn and wheat.
Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 10.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 18.00
Anticipated OG: 1.045
Anticipated SRM: 4.4
Anticipated IBU: 31.5
Brewhouse Efficiency: 69 %
Wort Boil Time: 95 Minutes

58.3% - 10.50 lbs. German Pilsener
19.4% - 3.50 lbs. CMC Superior 2-Row
16.7% - 3.00 lbs. Flaked Wheat
5.6% - 1.00 lbs. Flaked Corn (Maize)

3.50 oz. Hallertau Hersbrucker (Pellet, 3.00% AA) @ 60 min.
2.00 oz. Czech Saaz (Pellet, 3.50% AA) @ 15 min.
2.00 oz. Czech Saaz (Pellet, 3.50% AA) @ 2 min.
2.00 oz. Czech Saaz (Pellet, 3.50% AA) @ 0 min.

1.00 Whirlfloc @ 5 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 5 min.

WYeast 3711 French Saison

Water Profile
Profile: San Diego

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest 75 min @ 149 F

1/31/13 Made a 1.75 L starter with a pack that had slightly frozen on the way to my house. Started right up quickly on the stir-plate.

2/3/13 Brewed by myself

7.5 gallons of mash water treated as if San Diego with .4 g/gallon of CaCl.

With DC this means .8 g gypsum, 2.4 g kosher salt, 2.4 g Epsom salt, 2.2 g CaCl, and 1 g baking soda.

Similar treatment for the sparge water, which was heated to 182 F.

Added the last dose of hops and let them sit for 10 minutes before starting the chiller.

Chilled to 75 F, adding 1 gallon of distilled water to raise the volume and drop the gravity. Racked 5.25 clean gallons to a bucket for the clean half. The rest ~4.5 gallons along with some hops were transferred to a 6 gallon BetterBottle (will receive Brett eventually).

Shook to aerate, pitched 1 L of the starter into the bucket, and the rest into the BetterBottle. Left at 64 F to ferment for 18 hours. Then placed near a radiator, the bucket also got a heating pad set to low.

36 hours after pitching, measured the actual temperature in the bucket at 76F.

2/11/13 Turned the heating pad off, fermentation appears finished.

2/16/13 Down to 1.006. Nice fruity yeast character, solid hops.

2/17/13 Racked half to a keg with 2.5 oz of table sugar to carbonate. The bucket had slightly too much beer for the keg, so I topped off the BetterBottle with the remainder.

2/28/13 Bottled the remaining 4.5 gallons with 3 3/8 oz of table sugar. Aiming for a safe 2.5 volumes of CO2. Left some plain, but the rest was dosed in bottles with a small amount of B. custerianus, B. nanus, and B. naardenensis.

4/18/13 Tasting of the kegged/clean half. Nice expression of saison yeast character without being too fruity. Clean, bright, and refreshing.

9/25/13 Tasting notes for the B. custerianus portion. Terrific aroma, loads of fruit and pepper, but the flavors clash. I preferred the beer fermented with the same strain alone.

9/30/13 Tasting notes for the B. naardenensis portion. Makes the saison yeast saison-ier, spicier, fruitier, more interesting.

10/9/13 Tasting notes for the B. nanus portion. Not too aggressive, some fruitiness and light funk. Interested to see if the funk continues to increase with time.


Andrew said...

I am curious about the 3711. All my saisons, save the last batch, were 3711. The most recent was Saison III. That is/was a great beer, but I think the galaxy hops I used made it that way.

My 3711s were hit and miss. Some had a great yeast presence, where others were mostly hop aroma/flavor, for basically the same recipe. It could be a variance in hop freshness (usually saaz pellets), or process (different brew systems). I really want some punchier yeast components in my saison; i am considering doing a "1st primary" ferment with dupont and a "2nd primary" with 3711, a la Trinity.

Anonymous said...

Any reason why you would use the 2-row instead of all Pilsner for the base malt?

Unknown said...

I've gotten some good earthiness using 6g of cumin & 4g of caraway in a 5gal batch

Nilium said...

Could try Kaala Jeera or Lapsang Souchong.....

Anonymous said...

"adding 1 gallon of distilled water to raise the gravity and drop the volume. "

Can someone explain how adding distilled water raises gravity and drops the volume?

Rowan Chadwick said...

I'm guessing that's a typo and volume and gravity should be the other way round?

Derek said...

Elysian makes a "saison poivre" (description below) that I've only had once at the pub, but it really stuck with me. It's not remotely subtle, but I've thought since I had it that a toned-down version could still be pretty cool. It's definitely peppery, but there's complexity in the mix of peppercorns they use.

Hey, you asked for pepper :)

Saison Poivre (A Belgian farmhouse-style ale with a fiery and aromatic touch): Brewed with Pale, Munich, Cara-Munich and wheat malts, bittered with German Northern Brewer and finished with Czech Saaz hops. Ground black, white, green and pink peppercorns are added to the end of the boil, with more pink added to the whirlpool and in the bright tank. ABV 7%

RJ said...

Maybe try sichuan "peppercorns"?

Unknown said...

My experience with 3711 is similar to yours. While it is a wonderful (read: "easy") yeast to work with, it just doesn't produce the peppery/spicy notes of the Dupont strain. Not a problem if that isn't what you're targeting. I could see a nice hop focused saison being produced from it.

I have heard 3711 came from Thiriez, but I don't get that from it either, unfortunately. I tried to reproduce Thiriez Extra from a recipe I got from the brewer, but it was a far cry, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Not a big fan of American saisons at all. They tend to be over-hopped (or wrongly hopped; one poor example I had recently was filled with cascades) or underattenuated. Or they are too wild. If one must go in that direction, I tend to prefer just a little lactic (though I have had a couple of "off" Saison De Pipaix's that were awesome!). I, personally, think that BeerAdvocate list is way off. Brasserie de Blaugies' two saisons are probably still my favorites, for what it's worth.

Although, I like my saisons primarily unadorned with the yeast character being the most prominent taste (Jandrain-Jandrenouille fermented warm is my current house strain), I made a methi, karela, and pomelo saison that turned out very interesting. Must be careful with methi though as it can give off some amazingly strong maple syrup flavors. Another hit was the chartreuse herbs: Melissa, hyssop, mugwort, angelica, cinnamon, fermented with ECY-08. Cloves and violets, fermented with a ECY's brett as the primary fermenter was very peculiar. I have an ume and sansho kinome going now that I'm interested in tasting.

For earthy, you can't get more earthy than adding mushrooms or truffles. Burdock has an earthy flavor as well. Maybe I'll try that next autumn! Actually, I guess you could add a bit of dirt itself. That seems to currently be a minor culinary trend here in Tokyo at some of the haute restaurants.

Les said...

I made a saison I called South Sea Spice Saison. It has an infusion of vodka, green cardamon, Indian coriander, Javanese long peppers, and Thai kafir lime leaves. This infusion goes very well with the spicy/fruity nature of Wyeast 3711.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

My understanding is that Trinity does a mixed primary fermentation with Farmhouse, 3711, and Brett Drie. The brewer also quoted me the nearly unbelievable temperature over 115F for fermentation in the summer. Could your pitching rate, fermentation, or aeration be to blame/credit for the differences in yeast character you observed?

I would have used all 2-row, but I ran out. We'll have a silo of it at Modern Times, and in a yeast-driven beer like this I don't think it will have a negative impact. In a really clean beer I'd be more apt to go out of my way to use imported Pilsner malt.

I must be more sensitive to caraway than you, we did 6 g of the seeds in a Kvass and I thought it was the dominant flavor. A touch of cumin is worth exploring though, although I'd think more like a gram in 5 gallons. I want it to be unrecognizable.

Switched the distilled water comment, raise the volume, drop the gravity. My notes during brew day are often a bit hastily written while I'm running around.

Thanks for all the suggestions from Tokyo (and elsewhere), plenty of things to add to my list. I enjoyed a beer a friend brewed with Lagsang Souchong, but I think even at a low level it might be more assertive than a beer like this could balance. I'll give Kaala Jeera a shot, sounds like it needs to be toasted first.

RSR said...

ha, I just emailed about the CBC. See you in DC. Hope I can get a taste of some of your samples.

Flobo said...

Any chance you might sour mash or lacto a % of the wort? Hill Farmstead & Upright (I think 4?, their wheat saison) have made great saisons with this technique.

Anonymous said...

Please don't do 16oz four packs, unless the price reflects being shorted that amount of beer.
Hate 4 packs for the same price as six packs with less beer

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I’m actually not a fan of sour mashing, even the more reliable sour-worting technique under ideal conditions (minimal oxygen) still produces a flavor that I’m not particularly fond of. Pre-boil souring does work well as a base for a mixed fermentation, as Cambridge Brewing does for Cerise Cassée. We may include a few percentages of acid malt in this recipe to keep the mash pH in range given the pale grist and moderate carbonate content of San Diego’s water. Lomaland will be a bright/crisp beer (which is pH dependent), but the goal isn’t for it to be tart/sour.

Darryl Johnstone said...

I brewed a saison loosely based on your happy french saison recipe using WY1581 Belgium Stout yeast. It worked wonderfully and was easily one of my favorite combinations. I'm making a starter for a repeat batch this very moment.

Is this yeast on the radar for the test batches?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It hasn't been, but I'm a big fan of the beer the strain is supposedly sourced from (Hercule Stout from Brasserie Ellezelloise). Any description of the yeast character, Hercule is a bit cleaner than I'd want a saison (but that may be a result of other fermentation parameters).