Monday, December 16, 2013

Demeter Sinis (Batch 02): Recipe

This was my second time brewing Demeter Sinis.  The first time I brewed this beer was nearly a year ago.  Overall, I was quite pleased with that batch, and still have a few bottles left.  My one complaint is that while I like what the blend of mixed-ferment saison dregs has done to the beer over time, the body has gotten a bit too thin.  To counteract that, this time I'm adding some additional chloride and sodium to the beer to emphasize the malt a bit more, and have also upped the mash temperature a bit to see if I can retain a bit more body.

Finally, last time I aimed for 3 volumes of CO2, and that made the mouthfeel a bit crisper than I would like.  While I think I'll be kegging most of this batch, I'll likely go down to 2.5 volumes, a target I'll probably stick to in the future when conditioning dark saisons, and keeping the 3.0+ volumes solely for blonde saisons, and particularly ones with Brett.

I also have a few more ideas for this beer, including a version aged on red wine-soaked oak cubes.  Since my mash tun can only handle about 20 pounds of grain, my limit for this run is about 7.5 gallons.  I decided to do 5 gallons with pomegranate, and then do 2.5 gallons on the side with cranberries.  Soon enough, I'll do a thicker mash to see if I can get to 10 gallons and do half straight and half with red wine oak cubes.

Winter brew day.  Photo courtesy of Thorpette.

The recipe for the full batch is as follows:

Batch Number: 74
Brew Date: December 14, 2013
Bottle/Keg Date:
Batch Size: 7.5 gallons
OG: 1.065 (estimated)
FG:  1.004 (estimated)
Fermentation Temperature: 65* F
IBU: 31.7
ABV: 7.8% (est.)
SRM: 24.5

Mash: Single infusion for 60 minutes at 153* F.
Boil: 60 minute


7.5 lb Briess 2-Row
4.5 lb White Wheat Malt
3.0 lb Wheat, Flaked
1.0 lb Acidulated Malt
12oz Rye, Flaked
12oz Wheat, Torrified
8oz Oats, Flaked
8oz CaraMunich
9oz Carafa II
4oz Chocolate Malt

Salts & Water

8.0g Calcium Chloride (all added directly to the kettle)
7.0g Baking Soda (all added directly to the kettle)
2.0g Gypsum (all added directly to the kettle)

All of the salts are added directly to the kettle to achieve the ultimate water profile that I am looking for.  Acid malt is being used to get the mash pH where I want it.

Resulting water profile (based on EZ Water Calculator v3) is as follows:

Mash pH (est.): 5.35
Calcium: 89
Magnesium: 12
Sodium: 47
Chloride: 95
Sulfate: 51


2.0oz Willamette (7.5 AAU), leaf, at 60 minutes
1.0oz Willamette (7.5 AAU), leaf, at flameout


Whirlfloc (2) at 10 minutes
1.5 tsp. Wyeast Yeast Nutrient at 10 minutes
6g Lavender, dried, at flameout*
2.5 pounds of pomegranate juice and seeds,
along with a glass of Demeter Sinis (Batch 01)
1.0g Black Cardamom, at flameout

Pomegranate for 5 gallons of the batch.  For this, I took the seeds and juice from 10 pomegranates, which came to about 2.5 pounds of fruit/juice.

Cranberries for 2-2.5 gallons of the batch.  I juiced the cranberries, which yielded approximately 300mL of juice.

Both types of fruit were added to primary, with the pomegranate going into the bucket with 5 gallons, and the cranberries going into the 3-gallon Better Bottle.

* I wanted 20g of Lavender, but ran out.  I ordered more for the straight batch that I'll do in a few weeks.  I'm not as worried about this batch, since the fruit will provide plenty of background.


Blend of Wyeast 3725, Crooked Stave, and miscellaneous mixed-fermentation saison dregs using the cake from Demeter Spectre.

I also added the dregs from a bottle of the first batch of Demeter Sinis.


12.14.2013: Gave the smaller portion 30 seconds of pure O2, and the larger portion got 60 seconds.  The gravity was lower than expected, coming in at 1.055.  I'm guessing this goes back to the sparge, where I was in a bit of a hurry due to the chilly weather and snow, which created additional obligations.  For yeast calculations, I kept the gravity at 1.065, as I'm not sure how high the fruit took each batch.

Based on Mr. Malty's calculator, I used 110mL of the Farmhouse Mild cake for the 5 gallon portion, and 45mL of the Farmhouse Mild cake for the 2 gallon portion.

12.15.2013: Strong fermentation for both portions of the batch.  Each one sitting at about 65* F.  As you can see in the picture below, the critters have already sucked the pomegranate seeds dry and they've been taken up into the krausen:

01.25.2014: Bottling day for the cranberry portion.  The pomegranate portion previously went on draft.  I haven't done a separate write up for it as of yet, as I feel like the pomegranate just added a bit of tartness, and the blend I'm using already adds some tartness, so it's difficult to tell it's there.  One thing is that as the beer warms, there is a slight hint of the pomegranate membrane, some of which inevitably got into this.  If I was doing this again, I would definitely use either pomegranate juice (store bought or self-juiced), as that would be quite a bit easier, even though it was cool watching the yeast strip away all the flesh from the pomegranate seeds.

Cranberry portion bottling: Two and a half gallons. FG of 1.006. Final pH of 3.5. Aiming for 2.75 volumes of CO2. Added sugar directly to bottles, uses 5.5g for each 750mL bottle and 2.75g for each 375mL bottle. Ended up with ten 750mL bottles and three 375mL bottles.

One thing to add is that this was also my first chance to use my custom "ambrosia" caps, which Amy got me for Christmas:

Difficult to see, but ambrosia "a" logo caps on the left.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Calculating Slurry Volume for Starters

Earlier tonight -- two days prior to my upcoming Namur brew day -- I made a starter using a portion of the cake harvested from Batch 02 on November 23, 2013.  As I don't have the proper equipment for properly measuring cell counts, I did a workaround that should hopefully be sufficient for now.  To do this, I utilized YeastCalc.

First, I put in my harvest date and OG into YeastCalc, which told me that I needed 175 billion cells.  I then changed my initial starter volume (no aeration) to 1.0 L.  After fiddling with the numbers in the "Liquid Yeast Properties" box, which is where I initially found my viability percentage, I discovered that having an initial cell count of 160 billion would give me 131.19 billion viable cells, which would then yield 175 billion viable cells with the 1.0 L starter.

Once I knew that I would need 160 billion cells from my population, I used the measurements provided by Wyeast for repitching to determine my cells per mL of slurry.  This indicated that there are 1.2 billion cells per mL when the slurry is 40-60% solids.  I estimated my slurry (below) to be 75% solids, so I figured that I had roughly1.8 billion cells/mL.  Doing the math to get to 160 billion cells, I determined that I needed 88.89 mL of slurry from the jar, and that's what I pitched into the starter.

Slurry from Namur (Batch 02) in a 500mL mason jar.

I realize that this method is pretty crude and relies on a lot of estimates, so I have some bigger plans for the future.  My initial thought, and we'll see how this works out, is that I will take two test vials of White Labs yeast.  Given that these purportedly contain roughly 100 billion cells, I will empty these into a coffee filter to drain out the liquid.  I'll then take measurements of the weights of the resulting yeast, and determine the weight of 100 bill cells without any trub, averaging the weights from each vial.  From there, I can then drain out my yeast cakes in the same manner and determine pitching rates based on weight.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Science & Art #1: Tasting Notes

Below are the tasting notes for Science & Art #1, a blend that I created by using approximately 85% Farmhouse Mild and 15% Citrine (Batch 4).  I've wanted to start blending my saisons and wilds, and this seemed like a good place to start.  I had both beers on hand and ready to go, so I decided to mix at various ratios to get to an easy-drinking blend.  I wanted the fruit and wheat notes from Farmhouse Mild to dominate, following up with just a bit more acidity and minor funk from the Citrine.

At that point, all I needed to do was come up with a name.  I wanted something that I could keep around for awhile, as with these blends, I thought it would be easier to go with a standard name followed by numbers or years, such as Lost Abbey Veritas, Hill Farmstead Civil Disobedience, and Cantillon Zwanze.  Given that these beers will be blends of wilds and saisons, I thought "Science & Art" would be appropriate.  One of the things I love about brewing, and particularly about saisons, is that there is so much room for creativity.  However, at the same time, there's still the base science behind beer making and, most importantly for my purposes, fermentation.  

Appearance: A bright, faint yellow color with a large, fluffy white head. Great retention, with the head eventually falling down to a thin cap. Plenty of lacing on the glass. Pretty clear with visible carbonation.

Aroma: The initial nose has a touch of sulfur. Enough to be noticeable, but not distracting. This is something I actually like to have a bit of in my wild beers, similar to what I've found in Sahalie from Ale Apothecary. With that said, I know that this is often heavily present in my Berliner Weisse beers and then dissipates, so I'll have to find out the cause and whether that will be true here. Maybe it's something caused by the bottle conditioning process, as neither of the beers used in blending this beer had any sulfur.

Aside from that, there's a light bit of lemony citrus and some faint barnyard funk.

Flavor: The flavor continues from the nose, with a nice zesty acidity carrying through the finish. Some lactic, but more of a citric acid feel. A bit of wheat there, as well as a very mild tropical fruit note. While Farmhouse Mild was quite tropical and Sweet Tart-like, this takes on more of the citric feel of Citrine, even with Citrine only being 10-15% of the blend.

Mouthfeel: Lingering dryness after a light body and spritzy carbonation. Similar to Farmhouse Mild, this is very easy drinking. The acidity keeps the quaffability a little bit in check, though the lighter body makes this more drinkable than the slightly-fuller body of Farmhouse Mild.

Overall: I'm pretty pleased with the blend, and am curious to see where it goes over time.  Right now it's fairly bright, fruity, and lactic.  I'm curious if it'll become a bit more rustic and funky over time.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Demeter Spectre: Tasting Notes

At this point, the bottles of Demeter Spectre are carbonated well enough and I had a chance to snap a picture and record some thoughts. Overall, I like the beer and will definitely do it again with a few alterations.

Appearance: Slightly-hazy light copper with an orange hue. Big, fluffy white head with good retention and lacing. It's a bit darker, which I was hoping for, as that somehow seems to be a bit more rustic. I think a lot of this color is attributable to the fruit juice addition, as the grain bill was pretty light. The fruit accomplished what I wanted in that regard, especially as there isn't anything that would indicate that there is juice from peaches, raspberries, and strawberries in this.

Aroma: Faintly peachy with a bit of underlying fruit and lemon. There is a bit of generic spice there as well. It's not quite phenolic, more of a very light citrus perfume, perhaps the grains of paradise. Either way, nothing specific is identifiable, which was the goal with the spice and fruit additions.

Flavor: Mildly lactic with a generic fruitiness underneath peach. Some peach pit in the finish. Would reduce peach amount by half and instead substitute apricots. Raspberry and strawberry are not specifically identifiable. Generally faint spice and fairly light on the tongue.

Mouthfeel: Body is light to medium with good carbonation. Could use a touch more wheat and grain emphasis, perhaps upping the chloride and sodium a bit. Bitterness is not particularly noticeable; probably right where I want it. Finish is lingering fruitiness with a touch of citric and lactic acid.

Overall: I think I would mess around with the water chemistry just a bit and swap the peach for apricot, but otherwise I think this is a good start and could be a pretty good beer. I think I may also add a bit more lemon zest, and a just a bit (maybe 25mL) of juice as well.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Farmhouse Mild: Recipe (Version 3)

This is now my third time overall brewing Farmhouse Mild, and the second time in the past few months. The first keg on the last batch kicked way too quickly, and the other half was blended with my blonde sour (Citrine) and bottled. For this round, I kept almost everything the same, changing up the hops a little bit and also added a bit more acidulated malt.

The recipe for the full batch is as follows:

Batch Number: 73
Brew Date: December 1, 2013
Bottle/Keg Date:
Batch Size: 10 Gallon
OG: 1.043 (measured)
Fermentation Temperature: 67 F
IBU: 44.5
ABV: 4.1% (est.)
SRM: 4.1

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


8lb French Pilsner
4lb White Wheat Malt
2lb Wheat, Flaked
1lb 8oz Munich Malt
12oz Acidulated Malt
8oz Oats, Flaked
8oz Rye, Flaked

Salts & Water

5.5g Calcium Chloride (all added directly to the kettle)
2.8g Gypsum (all added directly to the kettle)

As referenced above, this time I upped the acid malt to get to the proper mash pH, and then added these flavor adjustments directly to the boil kettle.  Given the batch size, I did a double batch sparge, with the second sparge using only distilled water to make sure I wasn't pulling the pH up too high.  I wanted to add a bit of lactic acid, but wasn't able to quickly find a good calculator to use online.

Resulting water profile (based on EZ Water Calculator v3) is as follows:

Mash pH (est.): 5.40
Calcium: 70
Magnesium: 12
Sodium: 7
Chloride: 59
Sulfate: 53

Chloride / Sulfate Ratio: 1.11 (Balanced)


2.0oz Citra (12.9 AAU), leaf, at 45 minutes
2.0oz Amarillo (6.9 AAU), leaf, at flameout
1.0oz Citra (12.9 AAU), leaf, at flameout
1.0oz Simcoe (12.4 AAU), leaf, at flameout


Whirlfloc (2) at 10 minutes
2 tsp. Wyeast Yeast Nutrient at 10 minutes


Wyeast 3725 Biere de Garde (x2)
Miscellaneous saison dreg blend
Crooked Stave dreg blend

I built up a starter from the Demeter Spectre cake starting two days before the brew.  It was a 1.5 L starter, and prior to pitching, I also added dregs from Crooked Stave Saison Vieille and Surette Provision Saison.  I did not decant the starter.  While I normally do, here I didn't have too much time, and given the volume of the cake that was being reused, the starter was quite thick even after going for a few hours without being shaken.


12.01.2013: After the boil, I chilled to 68* F and added 30 seconds of pure oxygen to two separate buckets, which will each serve to ferment half the batch.  I placed the buckets in the basement with the lids on loosely.

12.02.2013: Both buckets showing strong fermentations, with the internal temperature of each sitting right around 67* F.

12.08.2013: Most of the activity appears to have stopped and the beer is around 1.010.  After taking the sample, a fastened the seals on the lids of the buckets.

01.05.2014: Kegged into multiple batches.

After going on tap, one has a bit of diacetyl after being on for about a week; I think there's likely pedio in this blend, so maybe it kicked back up?  Taking it off tap and going to add lemon guavas and some additional Brett to see if it will take care of the diacetyl.

The other half was later also blended with some Citrine to create a second blend of Science & Art #1 to go on tap.

05.21.2014: Tasting notes for the 5-gallon portion that sat on 5 pounds of lemon guavas for two months.