June 2015 I found myself with an extra six gallons of low-gravity saison wort, so I decided to ferment it with a vial of East Coast Yeast Bugfarm 15. I was especially intent to trial this iteration of the annual super-blend because it included an isolate of Kloeckera apiculata, a microbe that Vinnie Cilurzo mentioned as a suspect for the citrus-forward character of the spontaneous fermentation of Russian River Beatification!
The result was certainly more lemon and pineapple than funk, but it lacked excitement or depth at a year old. I bottled two gallons as is to see how it evolves (tasting to follow eventually). I racked half a gallon onto wild prickly pears, a gallon onto muscat grapes, and split the rest between fresh and frozen mangoes. The fresh was 1.5 lbs of sliced ataulfo, the frozen was two pounds of 365 Organic Mango Chunks.
I have a pretty flexible palate. I'm generally not a fan of warm citrus or pineapple in savory dishes... but that's about the only thing I won't eat, other than fresh mango! I enjoy mango flavored and infused foods and beverages, but freshly diced mango often has an unmistakable turpentine flavor to me (and not just the "turpentine mango"). Luckily a few delicious mango beers (including Mango Mama from Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, and a homebrewed pale sour brewed by my friend Seth using four mango varieties from his Florida neighbors' trees) convinced me to brew a batch for myself! I hoped to learn whether fresh or frozen imparted a better flavor.
Fresh Mango Tart Saison
Smell – Pleasant melding of perfume, earthy Brett, light pineapple, and mild toastiness. The Brett picked up in bottle conditioning. Doesn’t have a distinct mango character, even compared to some well-hopped Amarillo IPAs!
Appearance – Bright yellow with mild haze with a few strands of mango pulp. Dense white head exhibits OK retention, leaving a single line of lacing.
Taste – The flavor of the mango comes through more than in the nose, melding with more generic citrus and tropical notes. Mild acidity, dry, but with a perceived sweetness from the general fruitiness.
Mouthfeel – Medium light, slightly slick. Solid medium carbonation.
Drinkability & Notes – Nothing wrong with it, it is nice to have a fruit character that doesn’t cover up the solid base beer… however buying and processing all of that fruit feels like a waste.
Changes for Next Time – I enjoy it, but not sure if the effort of skinning, deseeding, and slicing 10 lbs of mango (to produce 7.5 lbs of flesh) would be worth it for a 5 gallon batch!
Frozen Mango Tart Saison
Smell – There’s the fruit! Like a mango popsicle, big leading juicy tropical fruit. Subdued Brett funk lurking behind as it warms.
Appearance – Same color without the haze or particulate (although there is plenty at the bottom of the bottle). Head retention is a notch lower.
Taste – The flavor is packed with mango, slight aspirin (or Vitamin C?). Bright acidity. Not nearly the depth and complexity of the fresh version, but deliciously refreshing.
Mouthfeel – Feels lighter and quicker, with similar carbonation.
Drinkability & Notes – The mango is so big and bright that the balance is closer to Florida Weisse than a mango-lambic. The base beer isn’t characterful enough to compete.
Changes for Next Time – This one could use something else (like dry hops) to play off of. Otherwise, I might cut the amount back to .75 lbs/gal to get a subtle mango flavor to enhance a characterful base beer.
Bugfarm 15 Tart Saison
Batch Size (Gal): 6.25
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 70 Minutes
82.8% - 9.00 lbs. Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
14.9% - 1.625 lbs. Grain Millers Soft White Wheat Flakes
2.3% - 0.25 lbs. Weyermann Acidulated Malt
.635 oz. Magnum (Pellet, 11.80% AA) @ 60 min.
.5 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 5 min.
.5 Whirlfloc @ 5 min.
East Coast Yeast ECY01 Bugfarm 2015
Profile: Washington, DC
Sacch Rest - 75 min @ 148F
7 gallons of water, 2 g CaCl, and .25 oz 10% phosphoric acid.
1.5 gallon cold sparge, filtered, untreated. Collected 7 gallons at 1.042. Mash pH 5.53 (room temperature).
Final wort pH 5.62.
Chilled to 80F. Pitched with ECY Bugfarm 2015, no starter. 45 seconds of pure O2, left at 68 F to ferment.
7/14/15 Racked to secondary.
1/2/16 1/2 gallon racked onto .5 lbs of prickly pears from Cape Cod (singed to remove spines, grated discarding skins). Clean acidity, lightly fruity.
4/5/16 Bottled 2.25 gallons with 2 1/8 oz of sucrose. Racked the rest onto 2 lbs of frozen mango, 1.5 lbs fresh ataulfos mango, and 1.5 lbs Muscat grapes from Chile.
7/2/16 Bottled mango, prickly pear and Muscat portions.
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