I like conceptual series of beers, for example our annual dark-funky saisons. This batch is the third in a different sort of lineage, hoppy saisons fermented with an evolving mixed culture. It is the follow-up to the delicious Nu Zuland Saison, this time with European hops an wine. I wanted an excuse to try Hull Melon ("honeydew melon and strawberry") and Hallertau Blanc ("passion fruit, grapefruit, pineapple, grape and lemongrass"), two German hops released to compete with the bolder-fruitier flavors of modern American and Southern Hemisphere varieties like Citra and Nelson Sauvin.
The old rule of thumb that the hundredths place of the original gravity roughly predicts alcohol by volume (e.g., 1.060 wort will ferment into ~6% ABV) doesn't work well for saisons because of their high attenuation. With the start of DC's four months of oppressive heat and humidity arriving soon, I wanted to keep this batch relatively light and refreshing at 1.047. With the wine it still ended up just above 6% ABV.
I fermented it with a starter made from the yeast slurry harvested from the Nu Zulund Saison keg after it kicked (not a textbook maneuver). This is the third use for my house saison blend (a mixture of The Yeast Bay Saison Blend, WLP644 Trois, CB2, and Wyeast Lacto brevis). This turn is heading towards being the funkiest so far. Likely the late harvests are applying selective pressure that favors Brettanomyces. As a side note, White Labs recently renamed/reclassified WLP644 from Brettanomyces bruxellensis var. Trois to Saccharomyces "bruxellensis" Trois. I could care less what genus it is, I still think Trois is a great strain! If anything I hope the strain gains wider use by brewers who do not want to risk introducing Brett to their gear.
To bolster the flavors of the hops and yeast I blended in an entire bottle of Trimbach Gewurztraminer at kegging. I find this to be a much easier, more consistent, and effective way to introduce wine flavors than soaking oak cubes in wine that are in turn added to the beer. Despite the German name, most Gewürztraminer is grown in what is now France. I selected the varietal because it tends to be a more aromatic and fruity/spicy than most European wines. Maison Trimbach is a storied producer which I've posted about before. This 2010 bottle was bright, citrusy and minerally, a nice match for the flavors already in the beer.
Excited to see how it all comes together after keg conditioning!
Alsatian Funky Saison
Batch Size (Gal): 5.75
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.90
Anticipated OG: 1.047
Anticipated SRM: 3.4
Anticipated IBU: 24.3
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71 %
Wort Boil Time: 65 Minutes
82.5% - 8.99 lbs. Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
14.9% - 1.62 lbs. Great Western Soft White Wheat Flakes
2.6% - 0.28 lbs. Weyermann Acidulated Malt
0.56 oz. Magnum (Pellet, 11.80% AA) @ 60 min.
2.00 oz. Hallertau Blanc (Pellet, 11.2% AA) @ Hop-Stand
2.00 oz. Hull Melon (Pellet, 6.8% AA) @ Hop-Stand
2.00 oz. Hallertau Blanc (Pellet, 11.2% AA) @ Dry Hop
2.00 oz. Hull Melon (Pellet, 6.8% AA) @ Dry Hop
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 5 min.
House Saison Blend
(i.e., The Yeast Bay Saison Blend
White Labs WLP644 Brettanomyces bruxellensis var. Trois
Brettanomyces bruxellensis var. CB2 (Jason Rodriguez isolate)
Wyeast WY5223-PC Lactobacillus brevis)
Profile: Washington, DC
Sacch Rest - 75 min @ 148F
7 gallons mash water with 2 g of CaCl. 1 gallon of untreated cold sparge water.
Initial mash pH 5.64 at room temperature with 3 oz of acid malt. 1.5 additional ounces plus .5 fl oz of 10% phosphoric acid brought it down to 5.50.
Collected 6 gallons pre-boil at 1.047, diluted with .75 gallons of water to 1.042. Added .5 fl oz of phosphoric acid to the boil.
Whirlpooled 5 minutes, settled for 15 minutes. Wort pH= 5.46. Naturally cooled to 180F. Then added 2 oz each Hallertau Blanc and Hull Melon. Allowed to steep an additional 30 minutes before finishing runoff (down to 145F). Chilled to 68 F, pitched the slurry from the Nu Zulund Saison with 1 L of wort pitched the night before, slow activity.
4/9/15 Dry hopped in primary.
4/20/15 Kegged with 3.5 oz of table sugar and 740 ml of Trimbach Gewurztraminer. Left in the cellar to naturally condition. FG 1.003 (5.8% ABV, 6.1% with wine).
7/7/15 Tasting notes. Wine comes through more than the hops. Good balance of fruity and funky. Was sulfury initially on tap, but venting the head space over a few days blew it off.