Thursday, April 23, 2015

Alsatian Saison Recipe

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

Recipe Specifics
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)

Water Profile
Profile: Washington, DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 75 min @ 148F

Brewed 3/22/15

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.


Eric Branchaud said...

Hmmm... this idea seems oddly reminiscent of a recipe I submitted for the "Homebrew Recipe Critique" option on the Modern Times kickstarter ;)

I'm curious how this turns out for you. I finally sprung for a kit of Gerurztraminer must, and I will be splitting it among a saison, a pyment and a lambic-style sour next month. Should be some interesting brews.

Unknown said...

Do you get much lactic acid from the Lactobacillus? I would think the yeast would out-compete the Lacto, especially at a standard ale fermentation temperature.

wahoo said...

Mike, any tips on using L. brevis? I picked up a vial of White Labs' version of it, and am growing it up.

My plan was to pitch it in at the start of fermentation of a golden wort with minimal hopping, and let it go for a few days before adding a brett blend for primary. I probably will pre-acidify the wort a bit, and try to keep it up near 80 before I add the brett.

Am I thinking about this the right way?

Unknown said...

Mike, how do you handle the thick layer of hops that sit on top of the wort after dry hopping without a bag? Rack under the layer? Cold crash?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I'd completely forgotten about that recipe. If anything your base recipe was closer to the Nu Zuland. Not to mention different malts, yeast, wine etc. Good luck!

Lactobacillus grows/works much faster than brewer's yeast or Brett given the right conditions. The mid-20s IBUs in these beers have mostly kept it in check though.

Wahoo, sounds spot on. I'd get the Lacto rolling in a small starter first to make sure it takes off. 24 hours may be enough, that's what I did for my Lemon Berliner and the acidity was just right. Luckily no worries about it getting too sour before a 100% Brett primary.

Pellet hops usually sink out after a week or two. I light agitate the fermentor once a day for the first few days to increase exposure and help them sink. Then I just leave them behind with the trub.

Unknown said...

Mike, I noticed that you use restrained fermentation temperatures in the high 60s or low 70s with your "house saison strain". I am planning on using a blend of The Yeast Bay Saison Blend and WLP644 Saccharomyces "bruxellensis" trois without brett or lacto for my next saison. Would you recommend keeping the fermentation temperatures in that same range as you or let them rise to, say, 80 F over the course of fermentation? Thanks!

Lyne Noella said...

This recipe looks wonderful. When you say table sugar, do you mean something like C&H, or do you get the unrefined and unbleached specialty type sugar for your brews?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I haven't pushed the yeast combo that warm, certainly would make for more expressive yeast character. Between the Brett and hops I'm just looking for the yeast backbone.

Yep, plain old pure sucrose from cane or beet. I love the darker unrefined sugars for darker/maltier beers, but in a bright beer like this pure sugar provides all I need. My preference is almost always to prime with pure sugars anyway, more reliable (although in a keg that is less of a worry).

Brian said...

Mike, you only added CaCl to your mash. Do you add any sulfate to these types of beers, or is there already enough in the source water? And what are the actual sulfate/chloride levels in this brew?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I list whatever additions I make. DC's water has about 50 PPM sulfate and 35 PPM chloride. I think saisons are dry enough that they don't need lots of sulfate, but feel free to adjust to your tastes. I think low level flavor-ion adjustments are one of the last things I'd worry about in a beer with this much going on. You can always dose to taste post-fermentation, I'm more concerned with getting enough calcium in the mash.

Sturisoma said...

Any Lychee notes in/from the Gewuerztraminer?
I love Alsatian wine. The Gewuerztraminer is actually Gewuerz and not plain Traminer.

Ben Cops said...

When you're adoing fresh wort to an old slurry do you just not worry about the rest of the trub? Doesn't it build up .?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

In this case I was using slurry that was in the keg, so I had left most of the non-yeast material behind in the primary fermentor. In general though, the goal is to build up yeast from a small amount. This reduces the trub carried over, and ensures a younger average cell age.

Clif said...

Hi, Mike.

I just bottled my own version of an Alsatian Saison. I used Wyeast 3711 French Saison, which worked really fast: it was essentially done in 24 hours, which put me off. I put off adding the grape juice for 2 weeks due to uncertainty. I could have added much earlier I'm sure. Also, I used your formula (Adding Fruit to Beer Increases Alcohol?) to figure out the Effective Brix on this. Thanks! Anyway, if you're curious, here's the recipe:

5 gallons

ABV 6.9%
IBUs 27

6 lbs Castle Pilsener
1.5 lbs Dingemans Munich
1.5 lbs Weyerman Pale Wheat

1 oz Hersbrucker @ 50 min
1 oz Strisselspalt @ 50 min
1 oz Hersbrucker @ 10 min
1 oz Strisselspalt @ 10 min

Wyeast 3711 French Saison

46 oz/4 lbs Alexander's Gewuerztraminer Grape Juice Concentrate @ end of primary

60 min Mash @ 148
60 min Boil


kurineru said...

Mike--thanks for the great suggestion about the Gewürztraminer. I read your recipe while I was resuscitating an ancient vial of Yeast Bay's Saison Blend at the beginning of the summer. The yeast still had some life in it, and I ended up brewing a saison along the lines of a dry-hopped Brassiere Dupont. Before bottling, I blended it with a bottle of Gewürztraminer. I tested it the other day after about six weeks of bottle conditioning and it was excellent. I think it will benefit from a bit more cellaring, but I'm really happy with it. Thanks!

Mark said...

Thank's for the recipe. I got it from Brew your own ( 2016, vol. 22, no. 6) and later I found it on your website. My brew is still fermenting and I just added the wine to the vessel. The taste was already great. I had to make some adjustments to the recipe, because not all the hops were available in the Netherlands.
read about it (in Dutch):


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Glad someone from Europe is trying my American interpretation of a European beer! Let me know how it tastes once it is finished!

Anonymous said...

mike - do you think that a bottle of wine would work well to top off barrel fermented saison? i'm thinking to try my hand in fermenting in the two balcones barrels i have. any risk of acetic acid by adding wine while oxygen can still get into the beer?

a bottle of chardonnay or pinot noir seems both convenient in top-off volume and also a way to mimic wine barrel aged beer. would enjoy your thoughts on this. cheers.


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Only if you wanted exactly that much wine flavor. I'd rather top-up with extra beer, and then add wine to taste at packaging.

Unknown said...

Hi Mike. Loving your job ! i live near Bordeaux so of course i'd like to try it with different white wine, sweet or dry. And without brett, only with lager yeast.
Any advice ?
When bottling, do you take care of the amount of sugar in your wine to calcul the right amount of table sugar ?
I'm afraid about the sweet one, imagine 600 bottle bombs !


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I usually keg these beers, so I don't worry about the addition of residual sugar. Although that the amount of wine is so low that it shouldn't have a noticeable effect unless it is a very sweet wine. If you are worried, add the wine to the beer and wait a week before bottling to allow the sugar to ferment out.

Let me know your results!