Monday, October 19, 2015

Saison Faible (Batch 02): Tasting Notes

It's been a long time coming as this keg has (unfortunately) long since kicked, but below are the tasting notes for the second batch of Saison Faible (recipe here), which is designed to be a light, easy-drinking saison.  This is the portion of the batch that was fermented with Wyeast 3726 Farmhouse Ale.  The beer was carbonated in the keg to approximately 3.0 volumes of CO2.

Appearance:  Heavy, creamy head atop a hazy golden beer. Great retention and heavy lacing on the way down. One of the best-looking beers that I've brewed. As I think I have mentioned in the past, I love the rustic look of a hazy saison as opposed to one that pours crystal clear.

Nose: Strong with notes of mango, orange zest, honey, and a bit of pear. Almost a light, vanilla-like character as it warms.

Taste: Similar to the nose, but actually has a bit of tart cherry in the background. It's not a sour beer by any means, but there is a very faint tartness through the finish. Just a hint of earthy spice.

Mouthfeel: Full and creamy up front, but finishing quite dry. The oats and wheat added plenty of proteins, and it seems like this yeast produces plenty of glycerol, together leading to a lovely feel. At the same time, finishing around 1.002-1.004 doesn't leave much there, and the finish is accordingly quite dry.

Overall: Not much I would change about this one, and I'm looking forward to brewing another batch. This is something I plan to have on tap year round at the future tap room, and is making me think twice about doing all oak fermentation with Brett in everything. While there is undoubtedly a bit of Brett going to work here (given that there was a pellicle at the time of kegging), its character is relatively muted compared to the Saccharomyces and hops.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Saison Faible (Batch 02): Recipe

This was my second time brewing Saison Faible, which is intended to be a light, fruit- and hop-forward saison without the funk and light acidity of Farmhouse Mild. For this one, I wanted to experiment with a few different yeasts, so half the batch was fermented with non-saison Belgian yeasts. It was a 20-gallon batch, so I ended up with around 5 gallons of portions fermented with each of the following: Wyeast 3724 (Dupont, Wyeast 3726 (Blaugies), White Labs 510 (Bastogne, which is Orval's primary-fermentation strain), and White Labs 550 (Achouffe, which is, or at least was, Jolly Pumpkin's primary strain).

After this, I plan to start experimenting a little bit more with European and old-school American hops, as I'd like to see how much of the fruity profile of many of my beers is a result of the yeast and bacteria strains I use, and how much is related to the generally-copious amounts of American and Southern Hemisphere hops I use at flameout.

Here are the full details on the batch:

Batch Number: 99
Brew Date: June 15, 2015
Keg/Bottle Date: See notes below
Batch Size: 20 Gallon
OG: 1.040 (est.)
FG: 1.003 and the 3724 and 3726; 1.008 for the 510 and 550 (measured, prior to Brett/dreg additions)
Fermentation Temperature: See notes below
IBU: 32.0-66.0 (wildly-different estimates from BrewCipher based on the hop stand, and I also don't know how much the aged 60-minute hops affected things)
ABV: 4.9% (est.) for the 3724 and 3726; lower for the 510 and 550 (until I decided to add dregs to each)
SRM: 3.0

Mash: Single infusion for 60 minutes at 152* F
Boil: 60 minute


14lb 8oz Dingemans Belgian Pilsner (46%)
9lb 8oz Flaked Wheat (30%)
2lb 0oz Munich (6%)
2lb 0oz Flaked Oats (6%)
1lb 11oz Acid Malt (5%)
1lb 0oz Flaked Rye (3%)
1lb 0oz Honey Malt (3%)

Salts & Water

1.0g Calcium Chloride (all in the boil kettle)
13.1 Gypsum (all in the boil kettle)
17.5g Sodium Chloride (all in the boil kettle)

Resulting water profile is as follows:

Mash pH (est.): 5.30
Calcium: 67
Magnesium: 12
Sodium: 75
Chloride: 123
Sulfate: 99

8.0oz Styrian Bobek (pellet, 3.9 AAU, 2.5 years old), at 60 minutes
1.0oz of Galaxy (pellet, 15.0 AAU), after flameout*
4.75oz of Mosaic (pellet, 11.6 AAU), after flameout*
4.25oz of Calypso (leaf, 12.0 AAU), after flameout*

* No hops right at flameout. Turned the burner off and let it cool to 190*F. Added the hops at that point for a 90-minute hop stand, with final temperature around 150*F.

4.0 tsp. Wyeast Yeast Nutrient at 10 minutes


  • Wyeast 3724: Pitched into a water bath at 72*F. At 12 hours, bumped to 74*F. At 72 hours, bumped to 76*F. All temperatures are setting on controller with a 1*F differential. At 5 days, bumped to 78*F. Removed temperature control at 8 days.
  • Wyeast 3726: Pitched into a water bath at 72*F. At 12 hours, bumped to 74*F. At 72 hours, bumped to 76*F. All temperatures are setting on controller with a 1*F differential. At 5 days, bumped to 78*F. Removed temperature control at 8 days.
  • White Labs 510: Fermented in the basement at room temperature, generally 67-68*F.
  • White Labs 550: Pitched into bath at 72*F. At 12 hours, bumped to 74*F. At 72 hours, bumped to 76*F. All temperatures are setting on controller with a 1*F differential. At 5 days, moved to ambient garage temperature, generally 70-75*F.


06.15.2015 - 06.23.2015: See "Yeast" section above for temperature adjustments.

06.15.2015: Bastogne finished at 1.008 after sitting for 15 days at 67-68*F ambient temperature. Pint of slurry harvested.  Very clean with little sediment.  Flavor is a bit leafy and earthy in the background with some faint phenolics.  Apricot and peach up front. 

550 finished at 1.008.  Lighter profile than the Bastogne.  A bit of pear and honey with a light touch of bread dough.  Very faint fruity notes, quite a bit less than the Bastogne in that area.  Fuller mouthfeel than the Bastogne despite finishing a bit drier.

Blaugies is extremely carbonated for coming out of primary.  Sitting at 1.004.  Dupont is also sitting around 1.004.  Both are fairly tropical and have notes of peach and apricot, but the Blaugies is more subdued.  Many of the fruity aspects are likely coming from the hops.  

07.06.2015: Transferred the Bastogne version to a keg to begin carbonation.  Not sure I like the combination of the fruity hops with the more floral, earthy, and leafy yeast.  I'll have to try this again with Noble hops, as those will complement those yeast aromas/flavors.

07.07.2015: Decent pellicle already going on the Blaugies fementor not too many days after it was removed from the hot water bath.  (Obviously, even filling these buckets with StarSan solution and letting them sit for a while doesn't get rid of all the bugs I have in the buckets and lids.)  My theory on the sudden Brett takeover is that the saison yeast really takes over at higher temperatures, but as the temperature is lowered and the gravity drops, it becomes more dormant and the Brett takes over.

07.09.2015: Added the dregs from two year-old 375mL bottles of Bam Biere to the WLP550 version, as I wasn't terribly happy with the profile, and it has been a long while since I've used Jolly Pumpkin dregs.

07.18.2015: The Bastogne version was on tap, but I'm still not happy with how the yeast character clashes with the hops, so I pulled the keg and plan to add some Orval dregs to let those go to work over time, which will also allow for the hop aromatics to fade a bit.

11.09.2015: Added Orval dregs to the Bastogne keg.

03.04.2016: Added dregs from a bottle of 03.11.2014 Jolly Pumpkin Luciernaga to the Bastogne keg.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Farmhouse Mild (Batch 06): Recipe

This was my sixth time trying out this recipe, a petit saison with Brettanomyces and miscellaneous bacteria, plus a slew of saison strains.  This was also my first beer brewed since my wife and I had twins in November, and I was also testing out quite a bit of new equipment, including a Blichmann 30-gallon kettle and a 13.20-gallon oak barrel!  The vast majority of this beer headed to the barrel.  I can't wait to have that around on tap and in bottles for a long time to come as soon as it's ready.

Since I'm not writing this four months after the beer was brewed (not to mention that it's the sixth iteration of the recipe), I'll keep the post fairly short and straightforward.  However, now that I'm brewing regularly again, I should hopefully have a steady stream of recipe posts.

Here are the full details on the batch:

Batch Number: 98
Brew Date: March 15, 2015
Keg/Bottle Date: 
Batch Size: 20 Gallon
OG: 1.035 (est.)
FG: 1.004 (est.)
Fermentation Temperature: 65-70* F (room temperature)
IBU: 30.0 (modified Tinseth from BrewCipher)
ABV: 4.2%
SRM: 3.0

Mash: Single infusion for 60 minutes at 154* F
Boil: 60 minute


10lb 0oz Dingemans Belgian Pilsner
7lb 0oz Flaked Wheat
3lb 0oz Vienna 
3lb 0oz Flaked Oats
1lb 12oz Acid Malt
1lb 8oz Flaked Rye

Salts & Water

9.3g Calcium Chloride (all in the boil kettle)
7.6g Gypsum (all in the boil kettle)
11.0g Sodium Chloride (all in the boil kettle)

Resulting water profile is as follows:

Mash pH (est.): 5.24
Calcium: 82
Magnesium: 12
Sodium: 50
Chloride: 125
Sulfate: 70


2.0oz Mosaic (pellet, 12.0 AAU) at 60 minutes 
3.0oz of Galaxy (pellet, 15.0 AAU), at flameout
3.0oz of Mosaic (pellet, 11.6 AAU), at flameout
4.0oz of Belma (leaf, 11.6 AAU), at flameout


4.0 tsp. Wyeast Yeast Nutrient at 10 minutes


Portions of the batch split between Ambrosia Blend 005 (10 gallons at room temperature), along with 5 gallons fermented with Wyeast 3724 (Dupont) and 5 gallons fermented with Wyeast 3726 (Blaugies).  The latter two were ramped up from 70*F to 84*F over a period of 11 days (see below)

Rather than chill before pitching, I set the beers out in my brew pots to chill overnight:

Cage to keep out all the raccoons and other critters near our house, and the box as it was supposed to drizzle a bit that night, and I didn't have a clean tarp.


03.15.2015: Into the Coolship at 138*. Hops were sitting in beer for 2.5 hours. Used spigot to drain 10 gallons into other pot. Total of 21 gallons. Current temperature is 57* (9:45 PM)

03.16.2015: At 8:00 AM, beers around 60*. Each got 30 seconds of O2. Accidentally left Mosaic bittering bag overnight in Blichmann kettle.

Set water bath to 72*F.

650mL total of AMB005. 50mL to 750mL of wort for continuing culture. 300mL to each 5 gallon batch.

10 hours after pitching, basement bath doing well. Both have airlock activity and bath sitting at 70*F due to the 2* differential.

03.18.2015: 2 days after pitching, good activity in basement water bath. Was down to 69* and heat turned back on. Bumped setting up to 74* with 2* differential.

03.19.2015: Three days after pitching, bumped to 76*.

03.21.2015: 4.5 days after pitching, at 75*. Bumped controller to 78*.

03.23.2015: 7 days after pitching. Probe said 77* and actual temp of each was 76*. Bumped to 80*. Each at 1.010. 3726 more mild with some light fruit and hints of spice. 3724 a fruit bomb with pineapple and juicy fruit.

03.24.2015: Bumped to 82*. For wild portion, one at 1.008 with beginning of bubbles for pellicle, and other at 1.006 with bubbles covering almost the entire surface.

03.25.2015: Bumped to 84*.

03.26.2015: Bumped to 86*. Differential still at 2*, so beer currently at 84* with heater on.

04.06.2014. Water bath below the probe level, but beers still at 80*F. Removed the temperature control.

June 2015: Of the 20 gallons, some was blended into Science & Art #8 (a future post), and the rest was added to a newly-acquired 13.2-gallon Hungarian Oak barrel.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Garnet: Tasting Notes

Background and tasting notes for a blonde sour (Citrine Batch 5) aged on tart cherries.

While at this point I've done plenty of fruited saisons (Demeter Auran, Demeter Vert, Demeter Sinis (Cranberry), Demeter Spectre, etc.), this was only my second time preparing fruited sours.  The first was way back when I blended the first three batches of Citrine, adding gooseberries, rhubarb, blueberries, and kiwi to different portions.  The gooseberry version was a disaster, as the puree that I purchased tasted more like twigs than any sort of gooseberry that I've ever tried.  The blueberry version was okay, just a bit plain without enough funk and acidity to back up the berry flavor.  The kiwi and rhubarb versions were both quite good, in my opinion, and are something I need to get back to.   Luckily, after a few trips to farms around Michigan last summer, I have a decent stockpile of fruit to work through.

This beer went more traditional, using Montmorency tart cherries from a farm in Southwest Michigan.  Alongside this, I also added black raspberries to a Flanders Red to create Amethyst, a beer I'll have notes on in the future.  Amarelle and Morello are the two main tart cherries types grown in the United States.  Montmorency cherries, a type of Amarelle, don't give nearly as deep of a red color as Balaton, a type of Morello, because while the skins of Amarelle cherries are bright red, the insides are more of a pale yellow.  In contrast, with Morello cherries, both the skin and flesh are dark.  That's why Garnet, pictured below, isn't that deep red color one often expects from a kriek, even though I used a typical ratio of two pounds of fruit per gallon of beer (actually two pounds of fruit per gallon of available fermentor space, filling to the top with aged blonde sour).

The process for this one was relatively simple. I took roughly 3 gallons of the ECY20 version of that Citrine batch and transferred onto 6 pounds of tart cherries that we picked up in Michigan over Fourth of July weekend, all in a 3-gallon Better Bottle. This Citrine base was lightly acidic, but a little plain. The was pH down to only 4.2, even with gravity at 1.002. Some faint melon character. I was hoping the cherries will add some depth and acidity, especially with the inclusion of the pits. While I took a bit of a gamble here not having the most interesting Citrine base, I also thought that the beer would have time to evolve while the cherries fermented away, and I didn't want to go with a base that was too acidic, as I still wanted the base beer to be quite drinkable, as I really loathe overly-acidic beers, particular when acetic acid becomes involved. As indicated in the notes below, I may have been a little too conservative using a "bland" base as the resulting beer could certainly use more depth, but the acidity is just where I want it and the drinkability is quite high.

Appearance: Bright deep pink with a nice bubbly head. Pretty clear beer without much, if any, fruit sediment, as the cherries stayed mostly intact during the secondary fermentation period and through the transfer.

Nose: Bright cherry with a bit of skin. Backing wheat with some lemon and moderate acidity. Could use a bit more funk, and also potentially a cherry blend. Next time I'll consider going with a blend of Montmorency and Balaton, both of which I'll hopefully be able to find this summer. I won't have that problem in a few years, as my wife and I will be planting Montmorency and Balaton cherry trees in our backyard this spring, alongside a new apricot tree and a few cider trees that we planted last year.

Flavor: Similar to nose with a bit more lemon. Definite cherry dominance. Could use more earth and skin with more-pronounced Brett and funk. This would work really well with just a bit of something like Ruby, for a bit more funk and earthiness. As it warms, there's just a bit of biscuit and pie crust in the background rounding out the flavor profile.

Mouthfeel: Very light and crisp and moderate acidity. Super clean lactic character with just a bit of lemon juice. Moderate carbonation. Could maybe use just a bit more, though doesn't need to be at saison levels. Super clean, falling off the palate quickly after swallowing.

Overall: A bit simple, but I really like it for what it is. As detailed above, this wasn't the most-inspiring Citrine base and was fairly young, but is a great showcase for the profile of these cherries. With just a bit more depth, and an increased cherry ratio or blend, this could be a really winner. I would maybe even increase the cherries by 50% if using straight Montmorency again. I could see doing a little blend with this for a future beer in the Science & Art series, blending with a Flanders Red, or putting a bit into a blonde Brett saison to add a bit of extra fruit character.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Science & Art #7: Blend & Tasting Notes

Where Science & Art #5 and Science & Art #6 drifted in new directions for the series by being most a blend of dark sours (#5) and bottle conditioned with fruit juice (#6), Science & Art #7 goes right back to where the series started, utilizing only two components.  Similar to what was done with Science & Art #1 and Science & Art #2, this blend takes a blonde Brett saison and marries it to Citrine, creating a fruity, tart, and slightly-funky offering.  In this case, heavy emphasis on fruity given that the blonde saison base for this iteration in the series, Demeter Facile (recipe; tasting notes), is one of the fruitiest beers I've brewed to date, even though it had no actual fruit additions.

The process to this blend wasn't terribly complicated, as I had an extra fermenting bucket full of Demeter Facile as well as several carboys of fermenting Citrine (my house blonde wild) to pick from.    In this case, I selected a batch of Citrine (dreg blend version) that was mildly funky and tart, but had a nice lemon and pineapple character, as I thought that would pair quite well with the orange, lemon, and tropical fruit character coming out of the Demeter Facile.  I was aiming for something that would be dry and lightly-acidic and would be popping with fruit character, even though it would contain almost no residual sweetness.

For this blend, the final ratio was 5 gallons of Demeter Facile and 1 gallon of Citrine.  To accomplish this, I transferred the Demeter Facile to a bottling bucket, and then used an auto-siphon to rack the 1 gallon of Citrine into the bucket, keeping the tubing inside of the Facile that was already transferred.  I flushed the bucket with CO2 prior to adding the Facile, and also added a blanket of CO2 on top of the Facile prior to adding the Citrine.  I also purged the auto-siphon with CO2.  All of this was certainly overkill, as the beer was set to condition with Brett, which would pull out any oxygen pickup quite quickly.  

I then added the priming sugar, aiming for 3 volumes, and carefully mixed that in.  This was a little bit lower than my typical blonde saisons, but given the fruity profile I was going for, I knew it wouldn't be as crisp as many blonde saisons that I've done, and I wanted the carbonation to be a little bit lighter so that it would linger on the palate a bit longer.

Appearance: Slightly-hazy light orange color with a big, fluffy head that lingers for quite a long time, leaving plenty of lacing on the glass on the way down.

Nose: Orange and lemon with a bit of pineapple and other tropical fruit. Light grass and a bit of wheat. Excessively fruity, just as I was hoping for. As with Demeter Facile, this beer is quite reminiscent of SweeTarts up front.

Flavor: Loads of fruit with oranges, lemon, pineapple, and guava. Moderate tartness. Just a bit of chewy wheat on the backend. Subtle funk coming from the Citrine, but the Facile really dominates here. Almost the same flavor and tartness that you'd get from a "tropical"-flavored candy or ice cream.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body with plus carbonation and a light acidity through the finish. Super fruity and tart throughout. Great body with ample carbonation; never seems too thin. 

Overall: The Citrine didn't add too much, but I think it rounds the beer out nicely. This is just over-the-top fruity and reminds me a bit of some Fantome beers I've had (minus the peach), as well as some aged Sanctification. Not saying this is in the same league as those beers, but this definitely has similar qualities. I will definitely make this again, and as with many beers, will experiment with conditioning this with honey or fruit juice. I'd really enjoy seeing what would happen if I conditioned this with something like passion fruit, apricot, or mango juice. Maybe juice from some of the lemon guavas that I'm so fond of.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Science & Art #6: Blend & Tasting Notes

Science & Art #6 was a first in the series in that in addition to blending several beers, I also blended in fruit juice to add the sugar necessary to bottle condition the batch.  To start, I had plenty of Demeter Automne (recipe; tasting notes), as that was a 10-gallon batch and I didn't really need 10 gallons of funky pumpkin saison to get me through the fall season, so I knew that  wanted to do something interesting with the second half of the batch.  I considered adding red wine-soaked oak cubes or blending in some dry commercial French (or French-style) cidre such as Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouché or Virtue Percheron.  

Ultimately, when I found tart cherry juice without any preservatives at a local specialty foods shop, I decided to blend that in and use its sugars for conditioning, as that has been something I have wanted to try.  It's a nice twist on conditioning with honey, and Logsdon Farmhouse Ales has done a great job with this method, conditioning its beers (mainly saisons, including the outstanding Seizoen Bretta) with pear juice.

Once I knew what I was working with, I decided which batch of Citrine I would use to blend with the Demeter Automne.  I ultimately, selected a batch of Citrine that was fermented with East Coast Yeast 20 (Bug County), as that wasn't too acidic and added a nice, subtle fruitiness and mild funk that I thought would complement both the Demeter Automne and the cherry juice.  At the point of blending (September 2014), the Citrine was about nine months old.  The final blend ratio was 3.75 gallons of Demeter Automne, 1 gallon of Citrine, and 45 ounces of Montmorency tart cherry juice.  Based on my calculations, the sugars in the juice used should create about 3 volumes of CO2, toward the low end of where I like my saisons, but I generally go around there for darker saisons.  The total yield was 39 375mL bottles and 6 750ml bottles.

In order to determine the amount of cherry juice that I needed to use, I first used a priming calculator to figure out how much sugar I would need in grams.  Since the sugars in the cherry juice should be 100% fermentable, I could then figure out how many grams of sugar I would need from the juice.  From there, since the nutrition label would tell me how many ounces of juice I would need to use to reach the right number of grams of sugar.  Regrettably, I didn't write down the exact numbers.

However, as an example, assume that the priming calculator told me that for 4.75 gallons of beer, I would need 100 grams of sugar.  Then, I look to the nutrition label and see that one serving of cherry juice is 8 fluid ounces and each serving contains 20 grams of sugar.  That would then tell me that I would need 5 servings of juice to get to 100 grams of sugar.  Multiple 5 servings by the serving size of 8, and I'd be using 40 fluid ounces of juice in that scenario.

A picture and full tastings notes are below.  At this point, the beer is around 4.5 months old.

Appearance: Light mahogany color with an eggshell-white head that's fairly long-lasting. Plenty of visible active carbonation. Quite clear.

Nose: Bright, fresh tart cherry with backing earth and mild funk. Just a touch of background clove, maybe a hint of cinnamon. A bit of the biscuit character of the base beer as it warms.

Flavor: Cherry pie with a light acidity. Earthy with a bit of pie crust and biscuit. Slight spice and fall notes without being too far in any one direction.  A bit leafy through the finish.

Mouthfeel: Very dry finish, though a bit chewy initially. Acidity is above a tartness, but not at all to the level where I'd consider it too acidic or even distracting.  It very much reminds me of a tart cherry as opposed to any specific lactic or acetic character.  Moderate to high carbonation, just about where I want it.  The cherry character lingers through the finish.

Overall: I quite like this beer.  I like the base beer of Demeter Automne well enough, but this is much, much better.  It's amazing how much just enough cherry juice to bottle condition really changed this beer alongside the Citrine addition.  I would like to try again next year and also use some fresh-pressed juice from cider apples, but this one will definitely stay in the repertoire and hopefully be a future seasonal once we open Ambrosia.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Demeter Facile: Tasting Notes

After nearly three months in the bottle, I'm getting around to posting tasting notes for Demeter Facile (recipe).  The idea behind this one was to go with a (relatively) simple malt bill and fairly-minimal hop additions so that I could get a beer that showed off the character of my current house blend (Ambrosia 005) of saison yeast (Saccharomyces), Brettanomyces strains, and lactic acid bacteria (LAB).  Overall, I'm quite happy with the results, and this is something that I will most definitely be brewing again in the future.  I'll also plan to do an oak-aged version soon enough.

Appearance: Quite clear.  Color is a medium yellow with a sizable initial head that fizzles down a bit quickly.  Could be better in this area, though the retention isn't horrible.  

Nose: Begins with yellow and orange SweeTarts, leading into faint tropical fruit.  A bit of apricot. Light grass and wheat.  Some honey as it starts to warm, potentially from the bit of honey malt that I used in this one.  (While I wanted to keep it simple, I love honey malt in saisons and couldn't resist).  Hints of lime zest as well, lingering after the more-upfront mango and tangerine subside.

Flavor: Similar notes as the nose, but with a light-to-moderate tartness through the finish.  Just where I like it, tart without really being sour.  Maybe a bit of pineapple that I wasn't really getting from the nose.  Mango, tangerine, and light lemon/lime seem to be the dominant characteristics.  I'm guessing this is mostly from the yeast and bacteria rather than the hops, as I didn't use much Centennial, and it's not the light orange and generic citrus that I typically associate with Centennial.

Mouthfeel: Light and airy, definite saison carbonation.  Could use a bit more body.  Might need to up the adjuncts next time.  Really easy drinking; the bottle goes down way too quickly.

Overall: I really like this beer and am pretty damn pleased with what my standard blend did with an otherwise-simple base beer.  I'd like to try bottle conditioning this with honey at some point, and also potentially with a tropical fruit juice.  As mentioned above, a bit of oak could also add a bit of complexity.