Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Demeter Spectre: Recipe

For a while now I have wanted to do a version of the "Demeter" series playing off of the lactic acidity and fruity character of Fantôme Saison.   I've been intrigued by how Dany at Fantôme gets that "Fantôme-y" character in his beers.  Even though he claims not to use fruit, plenty of people believe he does.  As for the lactic character of the beer, that fits within the traditional farmhouse roots of the style, and is not at all surprising given Dany's generally whimsical character, aside from the fact that the brewhouse itself doesn't appear to be the most sanitary.  It is, however, a gorgeous place:

Brasserie Fanôme.  Picture from our trip to Belgium in September 2011.

With all that in mind, I went with a pretty basic recipe (full below) and added hints of various spices, and then went with my standard for doing quick citrus-laden, somewhat-lactic saisons, which is a blend of dregs from various Hill Farmstead bottles.  What I had on hand here was also actually mixed with Wyeast 3725, which is reportedly the Fantôme yeast.  I decided to use some fruit, but in a way that wouldn't be as noticeable, either via the color or ultimate flavor, as detailed below.

For the water, I went with distilled plus additions of calcium chloride, gypsum, and baking soda to get the ions where I wanted them, with baking soda only in the mash, and the other two used both in the mash and sparge water.  Baking soda was only used in the mash to get the final sodium content I wanted for the full volume of the wort, as using it in the sparge water would increase the alkalinity and pH, potentially pulling tannins from the grains during the sparge process.  Finally, I also used acid malt to get the mash pH where I wanted it.

In naming this installment of the Demeter series, I wanted to play off of Fantôme Saison being the inspiration for this beer, and since Fantôme is ghost in French, I went with spectre, which is another word for ghost or phantom.

While the wort was chilling, I went inside and sliced up the peaches and prepared the strawberries and raspberries.  I juiced all of them together.  I know that Dany at Fantôme claims that he doesn't use fruit in his Saison, but many have speculated otherwise  Here, in addition to the spices, I decided to go with fruit, but opted to use freshly-juiced fruit in the primary. 

The reasons for this are twofold.  First, even though I haven't used that much fruit, I'd like the fruit to involved throughout fermentation, losing flavor and aroma during the process, producing a lower overall character.  The second reason for using juice is that I recall an episode of Basic Brewing Radio where an experiment showed that fruit juice had less flavor and particularly, color, impact compared with whole fruit.  Based on these two factors, I expect the fruit to lend flavor and aroma properties that could be expected to come from yeast and/or hops, to the point where there would be plausible deniability that fruit was used at all.

I also used double Wyeast's recommended yeast nutrient amount based on comments in Farmhouse Ales that increased FAN from extra yeast nutrient may help saison yeast perform.  Markowski was talking about the Dupont strains, but I don't think it's going to hurt anything with the 3725 / Hill Farmstead dreg blend I'm using here, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

After the beer had chilled to 70 F, I added 30 seconds of pure oxygen.  I then pitched the blend of Wyeast 3725 and Hill Farmstead dregs that was used to ferment my latest batch of Farmhouse Mild.  I had collected a pint of that slurry in a mason jar, and used the whole thing.  The yeast pitching calculator at mrmalty.com recommended 125mL of yeast slurry, though with the amount of liquid I had in the jar, the leftover cake was pretty thin.  I then wrapped a FermWrap around the bucket and set it at 65 F, with the probe wrapped inside bubble wrap on top of the bucket. 

Given that the temperatures in the low 40s at night in October in Chicago and the fact that our garage isn't (yet) insulated, I want to make sure it's basically just fermenting at room temperature.  I've had great experience using this blend in this manner, getting nice notes of apricot and lemon with mild lactic acidity.  The phenols have been quite low at this temperature, which is something I'm shooting for here, as I would prefer the fruitiness, mild spices, and acidity to shine through.

Beer while brewing: Ambrosia Farmhouse Mild (Batch 068) and Logsdon Oak Aged Bretta.  I also snagged a sample of Ambrosia Wallonian Pale Ale (Batch 069), which has been dry hopping for 5 days and will get kegged in two more.

Batch Number:70

Brew Date: October 12, 2013
Keg Date:
Batch Size: 5 Gallon
OG: 1.061
FG: 1.004 (est.)
Fermentation Temperature: 65 F
IBU: 28.3
ABV: 7.5% (est.)
SRM: 6.2 (BeerSmith estimate; not including any coloration from the fruit juice)

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


6lb 8oz French Pilsner
3lb 0oz Munich Malt
3lb 0oz Wheat, Flaked
0lb 8oz Acidulated Malt

Salts & Water

7.4g Calcium Chloride (split between mash and sparge)
3.4g Gypsum (split between mash and sparge)
6.0g Baking Soda (mash only)

Resulting water profile is as follows:

Mash pH (est.): 5.52
Calcium: 77
Magnesium: 0 (though plenty comes from the malt itself)
Sodium: 46
Sulfate: 52

Chloride / Sulfate Ratio: 1.89 (malty)


3oz HopShot at 60 min.


1.0 tsp. Wyeast Yeast Nutrient at 15 minutes


Cake from Batch 068 Farmhouse Mild (Hill Farmstead dreg blend and Wyeast 3725)


10.14.2013 - Temperature reading of the probe, which is sitting wrapped in bubble wrap on top of the fermenting bucket, is sitting at 65 F and there's a healthy krausen going.

10.27.2013: Bottled, aiming for 2.7 volumes of CO2.  Final gravity is 1.006.

12.09.2013: Tasting notes.