Monday, September 23, 2013

Wallonian Pale Ale: Recipe

Yesterday I brewed my first batch of what I'm calling a Wallonian Pale Ale, using a generous amount of American hops alongside a mostly pilsner malt base plus French Saison yeast.  The idea is to have a beer that's quite dry and hop forward, but with a bit of yeast complexity.  The plan is to keep the yeast at the lower ends of its range (approximately 65-68 F) to minimize its contribution, while still getting something out of it in addition to the large degree of attenuation.  With the high attenuation, I also used a decent amount of flaked wheat and kept the chloride to sulfate ratio relatively high to emphasize the malt and body a bit.

Practically speaking, this is something I also wanted to try with the idea of potentially opening a taproom or brewpub down the line.  Being able to do pale ale strength and IPA strength (in terms of alcohol and hoppiness) saison would be a great thing to be able to offer to customers without the brewery having to utilize another yeast strain, as the house saison strain would, according to plan, handle most of the load.  As a homebrewer, of course it's also easy to deal mostly with a single strain, though I normally vary it up quite a bit, though this usually takes the form of trying out different saison strains.

Preparing the mash.

The recipe for the full batch is as follows:

Batch Number: 69

Brew Date: September 22, 2013
Keg Date: October 14, 2013
Batch Size: 5 Gallon
OG: 1.055
Fermentation Temperature: 65 F
IBU: 69.6
ABV: 6.6% (est.)
SRM: 4.1

Mash: Single infusion for 60 minutes at 155 F.
Boil: 60 minute


7lb French Pilsner
2lb Wheat, Flaked
2lb Munich Malt

Salts & Water

4.15g Calcium Chloride (split between mash and sparge)
1.75g Gypsum (split between mash and sparge)
3mL Lactic Acid

Resulting water profile is as follows:

Mash pH (est.): 5.45
Calcium: 77
Magnesium: 12
Sodium: 7
Chloride: 70
Sulfate: 55

Chloride / Sulfate Ratio: 1.27 (very near the malty end of balanced)


1oz Columbus (19.3 AA), leaf, first wort hop
1oz Columbus (19.3 AA), leaf, at flameout
2oz Citra (12.4 AA), leaf, at flameout
2oz Citra (12.4 AA), leaf, dry hop for 7 days


Whirlfloc at 15 minutes
0.5 tsp. Wyeast Yeast Nutrient at 15 minutes


Wyeast 3711 French Saison (x2)
White Labs Brett C.


09.22.2013: After chilling, gave the wort 30 seconds of pure oxygen and then pitched both packets of 3711, which were manufactured on August 22, 2013. Took a temperature reading and realized the beer had not chilled enough, getting a reading of 87 F. Immediately put the bucket into the chest freeer at 32 F, where it slowly got back down to the appropriate temperature. I don't think this should be an issue, as not much flavor (or ethanol) is produced during the lag phase, and it was down to temperature within an hour of pitching, whereas the lag phase should last roughly from hours 3-15. See this excerpt from Brew Geeks:
The lag phase can be carried out at a higher temperature than the rest of fermentation because very little flavor compounds are produced. Ethanol production is also very limited, therefore ester formation is not a concern. Some brewers begin the lag phase for ales at 72-75F, and complete the fermentation at 68F. This can be done with success for lagers too, with starting the lag phase at 72-75F and lowering the fermentation temperature to 50-55F.
The Life Cycle of Yeast, available at

In the end, a lot of this may have been an equipment malfunction, as I measured with a new thermometer (fresh out of the package), and got a measure of 63 F where the old one was reading 75 F, so changes are the original pitching temperature was more toward 75 and didn't need too much alteration. Serves as a reminder to ensure that I'm updating thermometers more often, as I've been using the old one for nearly three years now.

10.07.2013: Added 2oz. of Citra whole leaf hops as dry hops in a muslin bag.

10.14.2013: Transferred the beer to a CO2 purged keg an sealed the lid.  Saved the 3711 cake for a future saison.

11.05.2013: I really wasn't a huge fan of the way the 3711 completely overtook this one, even with a pretty hefty dose of late addition and dry hops, so I decided to add a vial of White Labs Brett C to the keg and let that go for a bit.  I'll taste it in two months or so, and see how I like it then.  If the 3711 is still too strong, I'll have to consider adding some additional dry hops, or maybe some fruit (pineapple?).  I loved the idea of the WPA and will try it again, but won't be using 3711.  I'm thinking that if I use one of my "wild" saison blends that are relatively clean for saison strains, I can keep the lacto in check with high IBUs and get a more complete beer.

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