Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Honey Oat Tart Saison

I've already heard from homebrewers who have fermented batches with Bootleg Biology Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend. A few have reported more acidity than I'm accustomed to achieving with my house culture. It was surprising then when my most recent batch of saison became rather tart despite the calculated 70 IBUs of flame-out hops. I suspect on a homebrew scale the formula used by Beersmith overestimates the bittering contribution of whirlpool additions, but I'm surprised that the Lactobacillus was able to fight though even if it is just 35 IBUs. Adapting perhaps as I keep pitching it into well-hopped beers? Last year for Homebrew Con I brewed a somewhat similar hoppy saison that only dropped to a pH of 3.87 compared to 3.75 for this batch.

Honey is usually a rather delicate flavor. I went above 30% by extract for a split batch of sour beer with five varietal honeys, and none of them were boisterous. I was surprised how much character I got form only 7% Spanish rosemary honey. Audrey and I were in Savannah in the fall and stopped by Savannah Bee Company. In addition to a dozen honeys for tasting they also had a mead bar and a variety of honey-infused cosmetics. The rosemary honey had a bright-herbal flavor and in typical homebrewer fashion I thought "I can ferment that." I added it after primary fermentation peaked to avoid any undue CO2 scrubbing.

I didn't realize this beer ended up over 8% ABV until doing the calculations with the honey added, and how much drier it ended up than its sister Queensland NE-Australian-IPA. S-04 only made it to 1.018, the house combo took it down .010 lower.

Honey Bunches of Saison

Smell – Honey (herbal, floral, not much beeswax) comes through well despite the comparatively small amount; quality over quantity. Alcohol as it warms, not surprising given the 8.1% ABV. Mild citrus, I assume from the yeast and its interaction with the Australian hops. Grain is subtle.

Appearance – Mild haze on the clover honey colored body. The dense, white head lasts a few minutes, remaining as a patchy covering.

Taste – The most acidic beer from my house culture so far, but still more tart than sour. Low bitterness despite the calculated IBUs. Honey is there again, bright and pleasant adding herbal notes that cut though the citrus of the hops. Mild cereal finish with lingering fruity sweetness. The yeast ends up a little buried, not much funk or spice apparent, only a mild earthiness.

Mouthfeel – Light body without being watery. Moderate carbonation, would have been nice bottle conditioned and a bit spritzier.

Drinkability & Notes – If anything too drinkable for the amount of alcohol. It doesn’t have the depth I look for in a big saison but it also doesn’t have the heat. Falls in the Boulevard Tank 7 genre of, "oh I didn’t realize it was that strong."

Changes for Next Time – This one could have stood up to a small dry hop charge given the characterful honey. Barring that, I might actually pull back the honey to 8 oz to let the base beer breathe. A lower OG as well, or bottle conditioned to give the Brett more time to make it interesting.

Honey Bunches of Saison

Batch Size: 6.00 gal
SRM: 3.6
IBU: 69.2
OG: 1.064 (1.069 w/honey)
FG: 1.008
ABV: 8.1%
Final pH: 3.75
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74%
Boil Time: 60 Mins

71.4% - 10 lbs Rahr Brewer's 2-Row
14.3% - 2 lbs Dingemans Pilsen
14.3% - 2 lbs Bob's Red Mill Quick Steel Cut Oats

Sacch Rest: 45 min @ 156F

2.00 oz Galaxy (Pellets, 14.8% AA) @ Flame-out (30 min Hop Stand)
2.00 oz Vic Secret (Pellets, 17.8% AA) @ Flame-out (30 min Hop Stand)

Mineral Profile
8 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash
5.5 g Gypsum @ Mash

*Do not increase if your water is lower in carbonate.

1 tsp 10% Phosphoric Acid @ Mash
.5 Whirlfloc @ 5 min
.5 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient @ 5 min
.685 lbs Rosemary Honey @ Fermentation day 4

House Saison Blend

Recipe scaled to be brewed as is.

Brewed 3/11/17

Mashed with 3 gallons distilled, 4.5 gallons DC filtered, 8 g CaCl 5.5 g gypsum, 1 tsp of phosphoric acid. pH 5.44. Sparged with 1.5 gallons distilled. Hops are 2016 harvest.

Collected 7 gallons of 1.060 wort.

Chilled to 68F.

Pitched 1 L of House Saison culture. It was 3 months since harvesting, so I made a small starter with wort from this batch at the start of the boil. Left the saison at ~67F ambient to ferment.

3/15/17 Added 11 oz of rosemary honey from Savannah Bee Company.

4/8/17 Kegged with remaining 1 oz of honey and 2 oz of table sugar.

4/29/17 Chilled and connected to CO2.

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Unknown said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one that's gotten smashed on Tank 7 before. Didn't realize you had a culture out there until I read this, I like the sound of this for a table saison so will definitely check it out!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Cheers! The next round of the Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend is slated to go on sale again from Bootleg Biology in June!

Jeff said...

Based in unscientific sensory evaluation I lowered beersmith's whirlpool utilization over time to 35‰ and that number seems to give me the bitterness I expect based on the ibu calculation.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Thanks, took me a few minutes to find the setting buried in options. Seems more reasonable.

Unknown said...

The real question is, where did you find galaxy pellets for this?

Unknown said...

I can reliably find galaxy at my LHBS

Rob Neuhaus said...

Might be fun to try a split batch where one is fermented with your house culture as maintained by you, and another is fermented with your house culture from bootleg bio.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I got my Galaxy from Farmhouse Supply a few months ago. They are available at a few places (e.g., MoreBeer), but they are spendy!

I've considered doing a split batch, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Might be more interesting in a year or two as mine continues to drift?

BrewerTom said...

Would you have gotten more brett funk out of this one if you let it age out a bit longer, or is your house culture made for a quicker turnaround?

Unknown said...

I finally got a pH meter to test my first batch with your blend, 22 calculated IBU's (mostly from 60 min addition) and the pH is 3.8. I'm not complaining though because the three beers I've made with it so far have all been very different but very good!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Glad the blend has been working for you! Were you hoping for more or less acidity?

Unknown said...

Thought I had enough hops for no acidity but it actually worked out playing very nicely with the hallertau blanc hops. I have another batch with no hops sitting on pluots and blackberries, you think the recommended three weeks is ok for the fruit also or should I go the normal three months with fruit when Brett is involved?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

A stable gravity is what to look for. There isn't much complex sugar in the fruit for the Brett, the Sacch should handle everything else. Usually the reason I age sour beers for 2-3 months on fruit is that the beer is already old enough that there aren't many Sacch cells left to ferment even the simple sugars. Three weeks should be plenty in for a young beer (assuming the berries and pluots are well-extracted by then - pluots chopped/pureed, berries frozen and thawed would help speed things up).

Julien Dar said...

Can I use honey without pasteurisation in a 100% sacch beer? Can I expect to reach the FG in 3 weeks?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Honey is relatively safe. It can contain wild yeast, and there is some risk of contamination, although that could be said about adding dry hops, coffee beans etc. If you want to remove that risk, you can add it once the wort cools to 180F or so. That said, many mead makers don't pasteurize and rarely if ever have issues. Adding honey later in fermentation and without heating will result in more aromatics surviving into the finished beer.

Honey is full of simple sugars, it shouldn't extend the fermentation timeline significantly.

Julien Dar said...

Thank you for your quick answer from France!! I have bought your book and I really enjoyed. Hopefully having the opportunity to brew sour beer quickly!!

Wheels said...

I have a honey saison sitting in primary right now where I added the honey during cooldown when the wort hit 180 degrees. After reading a ton on your site the last week, I'm expecting that the next time I make this recipe or similar I'm going to want to wait until closer to the end of primary fermentation, to avoid blowing off the aroma. My question is can I expect the same amount of fermentation of the sugar in the honey regardless of the timing of the addition? So, provided there's no infection, adding honey at dry hopping time instead of in the whirlpool will result in a beer of similar or identical abv, but would expect to retain more honey flavor? Thanks!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sugar is sugar no matter when you add it. The yeast will be happy to ferment it if they are active, the temperature is right, there isn't too much alcohol already, and they are given enough time. You may want to wait a little after the honey to dry hop, although fermentation and dry hopping together might give you the flavor you are looking for!

Brandon Waite said...

Out of curiosity, why did you go with steel cut oats? Isn't it more work to prep them for the mash than flaked?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

They were "quick" steel cut oats, I added them directly to the mash. I wanted to see if they'd work, and they did. Not sure the flavor was any better, but less surface area could mean lower risk of oxidized lipids.

julien dar said...

Don't you need to dissolve honey before adding it?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I haven't found diluting the honey with water to be necessary when it is a relatively small amount and there is plenty of yeast activity. The convection of fermentation is plenty to distribute the sugars into the beer.

Steve said...

Is the late addition of honey and sugar at kegging time to help aid the carbonation process or simply to get a touch more of the honey character?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

A little of both.

Jako said...

I made an amber ale with wyeast scottish ale and adding honey during active fermentation phase. The result is very good. I have a plenty of honey character and it's maybe the more balanced beer I ve ever brew!! However , I have an issue: it's overcarbonated!! I primed like a normal beer targeting 2.2 vol of CO2. My final gravity was stable but it seems to work again in the bottle. I'm sure that it's not an infection and I read (after bottling!!) that it could be an issue when brewing with honey. How would you proceed if you had to bottle?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

How long did you wait between adding the honey and bottling? If the honey is well mixed into the beer and the yeast is healthy and alcohol-tolerant enough it shouldn't take more than a week to ferment out the sugar from the honey.

Jako said...

2 weeks and the gravity was stable for 1 week at bottling time. I added honey like you during active fermentation and didn't mix it. I made a starter so I assume that the yeast was healthy. I read an BYO's article on braggot saying to not prime at bottling time because of residual sugars present in the beer at bottling ( and the honey was boiled during 30 min). I'm disapointed because I really like the result of the beer and I want to find a solution to carbonate my beer and repeat it!!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I just don't trust there to be exactly the right amount of sugar left for bottle conditioning. It is a really narrow range of .002-.003 to get reasonable carbonation. I'd rather wait an extra week or two to ensure that fermentation is complete, and then prime to a precise volumes of CO2. Maybe the honey sank to the bottom and wasn't dissolved into the beer where it could be fermented?

Jako said...

It's also what I think. Next time I will heat it in a bath of 40°C like you did in the last post and will see. Thank you and good luck for your brewery from France. I follow you!!

Victor said...

Hi! Galaxy are out of stock at my LHBS. Do you think Citra would work in this?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It'd be a different beer, but likely no-less delicious! Both have a big fruity character that should work nicely with the Vic Secret, honey, and yeast.