Sunday, August 10, 2014

Demeter Vert (Batch 03): Tasting Notes

I've had this one (recipe) on tap for a month or so now, and I'm finally getting around to reviewing it.  While it is really nice having this on tap, I do really prefer to have my saisons bottle conditioner, for several reasons.  First off, based on experience with kegging partial batches and conditioning the rest in the bottle, I believe that the bottle conditioned beers have a better mouthfeel.  There's something about the conditioning process that really makes the bottles jump, both figuratively and literally.  For the latter, there's nothing like popping a 750 of a farmhouse beer and see
ing that slow gush.

Aside from the conditioning effect itself, which is a fairly minor thing for me, what I really like is being able to sit on the bottles and see how they develop, particularly since everything that I'm doing nowadays has Brettanomyces and lactic acid bacteria (and likely other critters as well).  The Brett helps scavenge any additional oxygen, and also does a great job cleaning up the diacetyl that is created by Pediococcus.  This is particularly important for a lot of the beers that I've done lately, as I've added plenty of Crooked Stave dregs, and it seems as though they've got a strain of Pedio that really, really likes to kick up a lot of diacetyl.

With this diacetyl creation, there are issues with kegging and then trying to bottle for friends, particularly if that means that the bottles are going to become warm for some time and allow the Pedio to get started again.  Without Brett to clean up, I may end up sending out buttery saisons, which is something I certainly don't want.  With Pedio in the bottles, there's likely Brett as well, although the latter may not be all that viable, as Chad Yakobson at Crooked Stave has mentioned (video link) that he's seen issues with Brett effectively dying off after being refrigerated for too long.

With those thoughts aside, here are the tasting notes for the beer:

Appearance: Slightly cloudy light peach color with a nice initial head, though the retention could certainly be a lot better.  Another unfortunate side effect of draft beer, in my experience.  Even when pouring with a thick, rocky head using flow control faucets, the head ends up not lasting for more than a few minutes, and not much lacing is produced.

Aroma: Just a touch of sulfur in the background behind notes of lime and soft malt.  A bit of wheat and earth.  Very faint background rye spice.

Flavor: Much more complex than the nose, with the rye coming through a bit more alongside lime peel and a bit of light tartness, likely coming from both the lime juice as well as the lactic acid bacteria used in fermenting the beer.

Mouthfeel: Very light and fairly effervescent while still being a bit chewy, likely as a result of the significant adjuncts.  The main saison strain used in producing this beer is the Yeast Bay's Wallonian Farmhouse, and it's possible that this yeast produces a good amount of body-enhancing glycerol, much as Wyeast French Saison (WY3711) does.  The glycerol produced by that French Saison strain is also mentioned in his talk discussed above.  Even with the chewy mouthfeel, the beer finishes quite dry, as well as faintly tart.

Overall: I'm quite happy with this beer, and it's been a great summer drink, especially filling pint mason jars of it as "growlers" to drink on the Metra train on the way home from work.  (Yes, one of the perks of my commute is that Chicago's Metra commuter trains allow alcohol.)  In terms of improvements, I definitely think this would be better with increased carbonation and a more-lasting head.  The carbonation is just right early on, but seems to fade after the glass is initially poured.  I'd prefer to have a bottle conditioned version that hits above 3 volumes of CO2.

Aside from the carbonation issues, I'd also plan to use just a bit more lime zest next time, as that should help the aroma pop a bit more.  I think that the lime juice that was used appears in the flavor, but doesn't come through too much in the aroma.  The bitterness and mouthfeel (aside from carbonation) are where I want them, so I probably wouldn't change much there.  I would also maybe dry hop with around 2 ounces per 10 gallons of Sorachi Ace to give a bit more additional aroma (maybe the additional lime zest could also be added here?).

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