Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ambrosia Namur: Recipe

I've wanted to do a saison yeast experiment for a while now. Yesterday I finally had the opportunity to brew 8 gallons of saison, which I separated into nine separate 1-gallon jugs. The goal of this is to eventually develop a house saison for Ambrosia Ales. The name of this beer is Namur, after the Belgian province in the Wallonian half of the country.

Batch Number: 59
Brew Date: February 18, 2013
Bottle Date:
Batch Size: 8 Gallons

OG: 1.050
FG: 1.004 (est.)
IBU: 30.1
ABV: 6.0% (est.)
SRM: 3.3
Mash: Single infusion for 90 minutes at 150 F.
Boil: 60 minutes


8lb 8oz French Pilsner
2lb 8oz Red Wheat, Torrified
2lb 8oz Wheat, Flaked
1lb 0oz Oats
0lb 12oz Rye, Flaked
0lb 6oz Rice Hulls


1.25 oz Calypso (12.8% AAU) at 60 minutes
1.75 oz Calypso (12.8% AAU) at flameout


See below


02.18.2013 - Brewday. Hit the smack packs of 3711 and 3724 at 8:30 am. Both of these got a bit slushy during the shipment here, so hopefully they swell. The Tired Hands HandFarm dregs mostly froze in the mini fridge when I put them in to crash. The bottom of the vessel was not frozen, so hopefully the yeast there were fine. The top layer with Brett may have suffered. I'm still going to use all three since it's only three quarters to a gallon of wort for each, and I can always redo the experiment with these in the future as this recipe shouldn't be difficult to replicate.

Mashed for 90 minutes. Initial mash pH looked to be around 5.5 based on pH strips, so I added a tablespoon of 5.2 buffer. This is my first time using the new false bottom. Had to vorlauf much more than was typical with the stainless steel braid. Ended up vorlaufing three times for about 1.5 gallons. After that, mash ran clear. Got approximately 8 gallons to be divided between the 9 jugs. OG measured at 1.050. Going to use Mr. Malty to determine the approximate pitching rates given the small batches. Gave each jug 6 seconds of pure oxygen. Finally, each jug got two drops of Fermcap.

Set the chest freezer to sit between 69 and 75 based on dual temperature controls. One is on the chest freezer and the other is on Fermwrap. The chest freezer is set at 74 with a differential of 1 degree. The Fermwrap is set at 70 F with a differential of 1 degree.

Yeast Rundown:

  • Wyeast 3711 French Saison: Manufactured November 18, 2012. Decided to use the whole package since it partially froze in transit.
  • Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison: Manufactured December 19, 2012. Decided to use the whole package since it partially froze in transit. 
  • Wyeast 3725 Biere de Garde: Harvested from Demeter Auran (3725) on February 2, 2013. Mixed with a bit of water and used approximately 50mL of slurry.
  • White Labs 565 Saison I: Best before May 9, 2013. Used about half of a vial after clearing with sanitized water and mixing in a Pyrex container. 
  • White Labs 566 Saison II: Best before April 12, 2013. Used about half of a vial after clearing with sanitized water and mixing in a Pyrex container. 
  • White Labs 568 Belgian Style Saison Ale Blend: Best before May 9, 2013. Used about half of a vial after clearing with sanitized water and mixing in a Pyrex container. 
  • White Labs 670 American Farmhouse Blend: Best before April 5, 2013. Used about half of a vial after clearing with sanitized water and mixing in a Pyrex container. 
  • Tired Hands HandFarm Dregs: Harvested from Tired Hands HandFarm bottle on January 15, 2013. Ended up with approximately 60 mL of thick slurry after pouring out all the beer (which smelled quite sour and oxidized). Hopefully this works out.
  • Miscellaneous Saison Blend Dregs: Harvested from Demeter Auran on February 2, 2013. Mixed with a bit of water and used approximately 50 mL of slurry.  Coming from Demeter Auran, this makes this a third generation use for the blend.

02.19.2013 - Temperature 12 hours after pitching continues to sit at 70 F ambient. One of the jugs has a good krausen on it, while a few others have a bit of foam. Will check back at 24 hours.  At 24 hours, all but the Tired Hands and saison dreg blends were going strong.

02.20.2013 - At 36 hours, Tired Hands blend is going strong as well.  Saison dreg blend still hasn't done much.  At 48 hours, everything is going strong, with the temperature holding between 70 and 71.

02.21.2013 - At 60 hours, all still going well.  Some appear to be near completion of active fermentation.  Temperature holding between 71 and 72.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wood Aging Project

For awhile now I've been aging pre-boiled oak cubes in white wine and red wine.  Pre-boiled oak cubes are preferable to leech out some of the harsher aspects of the fresh wood.  I've mostly used these cubes in saisons and wild beers.  (I've also used a 3-gallon whiskey barrel for my Vesuvius Imperial Stout.)  I've had moderate success with this method, and have decided that I'd like to expand my use of these cubes.

Inspired by beers that use more exotic barrels, I decided to pull some things out of our liquor cabinet and will eventually try some of the new oak variants in small batches of beer.  First, I've restarted a bourbon jar.  The bourbon cubes can be used in stouts, but I also plan to use them with some dark saisons, inspired by beers such as Tired Hands Guillemot Nebula and Prunus, as well as Stillwater Barrel-Aged Existent.  Another option would be a wild quad with fruit, along the lines of Lost Abbey Cuvee de Tomme.

I also went with brandy, which will initially be used in a gallon of my whiskey barrel aged imperial stout.  I'm interested in how the double barrel character will work out.  Aside from that, I'm thinking it could also work well with a dark saison, or even with a portion of Citrine.  This would fall along the lines of the cognac barrel-aged lambics that Cantillon has done, 50N4E and LH12.

After that, my choices are a little more obscure.  I went with some oak cubes in Tanqueray gin.  I think a blonde saison with lime peel could be a nice twist on the gin and tonic concept.  I think the level of gin cubes would need to be lower than other beers, or could perhaps be split with some white wine soaked cubes.  Upright in Portland has had success doing gin barrel saisons, e.g. Sole Composition Jaune Quatre.  I think a key to this would also be to use a relatively mild saison strain at a lower temperature.

Finally, I'm aging some oak cubes in Jagermeister.  This isn't traditional at all, and I'm not aware of any breweries using this, but I thought the anise/black licorice character could go well with a stout, or perhaps even with a dark saison or wild ale in small doses.  Since I'm not sure what else I might do with the Jagermeister that's been sitting around since college, this seemed like it'd be worth doing a single gallon experiment with at some point.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Orval's Brewmaster to Retire

Orval's brewmaster, Jean-Marie Rock, is set to retire after nearly 30 years at the brewery. He will be opening his own brewery, producing a beer utilizing "a method that brewers today have forgotten." An English translation of the interview (not that there are clearly some errors):

BROTH - Jean-Marie Rock is a little Elvis Trappist. It is he who in effect since 1985, gives the Orval taste we know it.He now wants to open a brewery. 
At nearly 65, he intends to make her childhood dream to create his own brewery Noirefontaine (Bouillon) and recreate a beer with a recipe forgotten all the brewers. The man, who has over 40 years of experience, develops a secret beer that Americans and the British were able to test and they are already fans. 
Jean-Marie Rock, why embark on this "adventure" when the time of retirement will ring?
I believe that as long as there different brewers, beer remains a flagship product of Wallonia. If I break my head to start this business, it is because I want to do something for our region. 
When your brewery open she? 
It takes six months to build. I hope that in a year and a half, we can drink the first beer.The project is on track for a long time. I am associated with a friend 15 years my junior.It sells equipment for breweries. We want to install on the N89, on the set of Noirefontaine, adjacent to the garage Arnould. 
This road is a beautiful showcase.At peak times, we calculated an hourly flow of 6,000 vehicles. Because of red tape, we lost a year. 
Your beer will she with a remote Orval? 
No. I'll just say this will not be a lager, but a special beer. I once made brews with a method that brewers today have forgotten.
UPDATE: Orval's new brewmaster will be Anne-Francoise Pypaert (link), who has been in charge of Orval's lab for the past twenty years.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ambrosia Demeter Sinis: Recipe

Base Recipe

Batch Number: 57
Brew Date: January 21, 2013
Bottle Date: February 10, 2013

Batch Size: 5 gallons

OG: 1.061 (est.)
FG: 1.006 (est.)
IBU: 0
ABV: 5.2% (est.)
SRM: 23.2
Mash: Single infusion for 60 minutes at 151 F.
Boil: 60 minutes


5lb 0oz French Pilsner
3lb 0oz White Wheat Malt
2lb 0oz Wheat, Flaked
0lb 8oz Red Wheat, Torrified
0lb 8oz Rye, Flaked
0lb 4oz Carafa II
0lb 4oz Roasted Barley
0lb 4oz Special B Malt
0lb 2oz English Chocolate Malt


1.5oz East Kent Goldings (5.8 AAU) at 60 minutes
0.5oz East Kent Goldings (4.5 AAU) at 5 minutes
0.5oz East Kent Goldings (4.5 AAU) at Flameout


14g Lavender at 2 minutes
0.75g Black Cardamom at 2 minutes
1.5oz Red Wine-Soaked Medium Toast Hungarian Oak Cubes during primary


Hill Farmstead Blend (Dregs from Hill Farmstead Arthur, Clara, and Vera Mae).  This is the third generation for this blend, after previously having been used in Repeating Numbers and then Demeter Auran.


01.22.2013 - Fermentation is active after approximately 12 hours.  At 24 hours, the airlock is bubbling away.  Used approximately 4 large spoonfuls of the cake from Demeter Auran, which was still showing a bit of activity after 9 days.  Fermentation is at approximately 65 F ambient.

02.10.2013 - Bottled approximately 5 gallons with 150 grams of table sugar, aiming for 3.0 volumes of CO2.  Tastes great out of the fermenter.  The cardamom was a bit strong a week ago, but has faded, and should be at about the right level by the time carbonation is complete.

Ambrosia Lucky Charm (Batch 3): Recipe

This is my third time brewing Lucky Charm, my Berliner Weissbier series, the name of which comes from the fact that my wife, Amy, loves woodruff syrup in Berliners and thinks it tastes like the marshmallows from Lucky Charms.  I can't say that I disagree.

For this batch, I decided to do a sour "mash" for the first time.  Mine isn't traditional in that it's not really the mash that's being soured.  Instead, I plan to sour the runnings.  The procedure is to mash as normal, run off from the mash run into my pot, chill to ~100 F, and then fill two CO2-purged corny kegs.  From there, I put a grain bag filled with a quarter pound of pilsner malt in each keg.  Those are placed in a chest freezer using FermWrap to keep the kegs at 85 F for about a day, at which point I then remove the grain bags and pitch starters of White Labs Berliner Blend.  This "mash" is done to allow the lactobacillus that naturally resides on the raw grain to start to acidify the beer.  From there, the Berliner Blend goes to work.

Base Recipe

Batch Number: 56
Brew Date: January 21, 2013
Bottle Date:

Batch Size: 10 gallons

OG: 1.029 (est.)
FG: 1.004 (est.)
IBU: 0
ABV: 3.6% (est.)
SRM: 2.6
Mash: Single infusion for 60 minutes at 150 F.
Boil: None


5lb 8oz French Pilsner
5lb 8oz White Wheat Malt




Lactobacillus (present on raw grain)
Berliner Blend


01.21.2013 - Brewday.  After mashing, transferred straight into two corny kegs, and also into a single gallon jug.  All three vessels were placed in a chest freezer with dual stage temperature control, which was set between 85 and 90 F.  The cornies each got a bag with 4 ounces of pilsner malt to soak overnight as a sour mash.

01.22.2013 - After 16 hours, each of the corny kegs had a layer of white film when opened.  I removed the grain bag from each, pitched from a starter of White Labs Berliner Blend, and lowered the temperature range to 68 - 72 F, which is White Labs' recommended range for the blend.  At the 28 hour mark, both kegs and the jug were showing plenty of fermentation activity.

02.16.2013 - Added the juice of 18oz of blueberries (~500mL) plus the juice of one lemon (~50mL) to the jug, along with 1/2 Tbsp of lemon zest.

02.24.2013 - Added fruit to one of the kegs, which contains approximately 4.5 gallons.  I added the juice of 72 ounces of raspberries plus the juice of three limes.  I also added 3 Tbsp. of lime zest.

Ambrosia Citrine (Batch 4): Recipe

This is the fourth batch of Citrine that I have brewed. Citrine is my blonde wild ale. The first three batches were all inoculated with dregs, so I wanted to take this one in a different direction and bring a bit of spontaneous fermentation to this batch. With that in mind, I decided to brew an 8-gallon batch. The first five gallons were chilled and went to a 6-gallon Better Bottle, and then received dregs and oak cubes from Citrine batches 1-3.

For the spontaneous portion, the plan was to use lasagna pans from a grocery store. After brewing, I laid out three in our screened in porch to sit overnight. The next morning, I transferred each to 1-gallon jugs. There was quite a bit of evaportation overnight, so I ended up with approximately two-thirds of a gallon in each jug. One jug would ferment without any assistance. The other two would receive dregs that I had built up from bottles in addition to whatever was picked up from the air.

Base Recipe

Batch Number: 55
Brew Date: January 20, 2013
Bottle Date:
Batch Size: 8 Gallons

OG: 1.047 (est.)
FG: 1.000 (est.)
IBU: 28.9
ABV: 6.0% (est.)
SRM: 3.5
Mash: Single infusion for 60 minutes at 156 F.
Boil: 90 minutes


7lb 4oz French Pilsner
7lb 4oz French Pilsner
3lb 4oz Flaked Wheat


4.5 oz Liberty (Aged) at 90 minutes


Citrine Dregs (5 gallons)
Spontaneous Yeast and Bacteria (1 gallon)
Spontaneous Yeast and Bacteria + dregs of miscellaneous wild saisons (1 gallon)
Spontaneous Yeast and Bacteria + Allagash Coolship Dregs (1 gallon)


01.20.2013 - Brewday. Brewed 8 gallons. The first 5 gallons went into a 6-gallon Better Bottle and got the mixed cake from batches 1, 2, and 3 of Citrine, which had been in a growler in the fridge for a few months. It also got the leftover oak cubes that were included in that growler.

The other three gallons were split evenly between three aluminum lasagna pans and allowed to sit out overnight after being filled around 3 PM. The high on January 20 was 61 F, and the overnight low was 37 F.

01.21.2013 - Each pan was racked separately into a one gallon jug. There was a good amount of evaporation loss, so each jug ended up with approximately 2/3 of a gallon. The first jug is being left as is for a completely spontaneous fermentation. The second jug received the grown up dregs from some "wild" saison bottles. The third jug received the grown up dregs from bottles from the Allagash Coolship series. Those dregs had been sitting at the bottom of a starter for several months.

01.22.2013 - The spontaneous plus Flora jug has really taken off and has a nice krausen. I had to add a few drops of Fermcap to be safe. The other two jugs have some spotty foam on top as of 8 AM. The 5-gallon portion is not showing any real activity at this point. At approximately 30 hours, the 5-gallon portion now has a nice foamy layer atop the brew. Some foam atop the Spontaneous + Coolship jug, but nothing in the purely spontaneous jug. Fermentation for all is occurring at approximately 65 F ambient, though this will fluctuate with room temperature as fermentation continues through the next year or more.

01.24.2013 - This morning there is now a bit of foam on top of the 100% spontaneous portion, and the Spontaneous + Coolship portion has a very light layer of bubbly foam covering almost the entire top of the wort.

01.26.2013 - The Spontaneous + Coolship has a very nice krausen, and the 100% spontaneous has a layer of foam on the top.

01.27.2013 - The 100% spontaneous portion is started to krausen.

10.06.2013 - One gallon of this batch was taken from the main, non-spontaneous portion of the batch and used to blend with 4 gallons of Farmhouse Mild.

11.23.2013 - Put the keg in the kegerator to start carbonating.