Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Demeter Automne: Recipe

Now that August has rolled around, it's time to start thinking about brewing -- not releasing -- fall beers.  I've only done one pumpkin beer in the past and that was a pumpkin stout for my wife, Amy, and not something that I particularly enjoyed.  This time I decided to do a pumpkin saison, keeping the spices quite light so that they'd give more of a "fall feel" rather than being all that noticeable by themselves, and not to the level that it'd be possible to really pick out much of the individual spices.

I brewed a 10-gallon batch, and plan to do something fun with the second 5-gallon portion as part of my Science & Art series.  Right now, I'm thinking that I'll age that half with red wine-soaked oak cubes, and then eventually blend a bit with some funky cider to be ready in time for next fall.  I picked up some store-bought apple cider to try out with some Brett and other dregs, but also hope that I'll be able to pick up, juice, and blend some real cider apples this fall.

Thankfully I had planned to do a pumpkin beer for Amy last year and never got around to it, so I had 5 pounds of frozen pumpkin that she had chopped up and roasted last fall.  I used this along with a mix-and-match set of base malt for the grain bill, using up all the remaining Maris Otter and Two Row that I had, then also using some Vienna, Munich, and Biscuit for some background bread and toast.  The brown malt should add a bit of nuttiness, with slight spice coming from the rye.  I also added the honey malt and Caramel 60 for some backing sweetness and additional character.  As a side note, honey malt itself is incredibly delicious.

Pumpkin and rice hulls at the top of the mash.

Here are the full details on the batch:

Batch Number: 92

Brew Date: August 10, 2014
Keg Date:
Batch Size: 10 Gallon
OG: 1.052 (est.)

FG: 1.005 (est.); 1.006 (measured)
Fermentation Temperature: ~70-75*F (fermented at "room" temperature in the garage, which doesn't have temperature control)
IBU: 24.0 (modified Tinseth from BrewCipher)
ABV: 6.2%
SRM: 13.0

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


7.00 lb Maris Otter
5.00 lb Two Row
2.50 lb Vienna Malt
1.00 lb Munich Malt
1.00 lb Caramel 60
1.00 lb Brown Malt
1.00 lb Biscuit Malt
1.00 lb Honey Malt
1.00 lb Rye Malt

I then also added 5 pounds of pumpkin puree and half a pound of rice hulls to the mash.

Salts & Water

All salts added to the kettle.  Also added 5mL of lactic acid to the mash to get the pH to around 5.4.

5.4g Calcium Chloride
4.5g Gypsum
6.4g Sodium Chloride

Resulting water profile is as follows:

Mash pH (est.): 5.4
Calcium: 78
Magnesium: 12
Sodium: 50
Chloride: 125
Sulfate: 70


0.75oz Columbus (17.7 AAU), whole leaf, at 60 minutes
3.00oz Willamette (5.1 AAU), whole leaf, at flameout


2.0 tsp. Wyeast Yeast Nutrient at 10 minutes
0.84g (.50 tsp.) nutmeg at flameout
0.66g (.50 tsp.) black cardamom at flameout
0.47g (.25 tsp.) dried ginger at flameout
0.39g (.25 tsp.) cinnamon at flameout
0.31g (.25 tsp.) allspice at flameout
0.16g (.125 tsp.) clove at flameout


Full batch used Ambrosia Blend 005 (now the fourth generation) from the cake of Wallonian Pale Ale. Each 5-gallon portion got 100mL of dense slurry from that cake.


09.01.2014: I thought about bottle conditioning this one with apple cider, but thought that the sugar that would be required would end up being a bit too much of the overall character.  Instead, I decided to take a portion of this batch, blend it with Citrine blonde wild, and then bottle condition with Montmorency tart cherry juice.  That blend turned into Science & Art #6.

For bottling Automne, I used 152g of table sugar, aiming for 3.0 volumes with about 4.75 gallons of beer.  The yield was 25 750mL bottles.

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?).

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Wallonian Pale Ale (Batch 02): Recipe

This is my second time trying out this recipe, with the theory that this is a fairly hoppy pale ale with saison yeast. The first attempt didn't go over that well, as I really didn't like the French Saison yeast. This time I'm going with the third generation of Ambrosia Blend 05, which is a blend of saison yeast and various Brettanomyces strains. Based on my experience with Demeter Vert (Batch 03), this is also picking up some lactic acid bacteria from the buckets I'm fermenting in, which is a good way to transfer some bugs from batch to batch since I don't have a barrel, though I do plan to make use of oak cubes for the same purpose soon. (I don't worry about the contamination, as anything I do that's "clean," which isn't all that often, is fermented in stainless steel kegs.)

I went pretty simple on the grain bill, and then hopped fairly intensely with Belma, Citra, and Mosaic at flameout. I'll also be looking to dry hop heavily as well.

Here are the full details on the batch:

Batch Number: 91
Brew Date: July 27, 2014
Keg Date:
Batch Size: 10 Gallon
OG: 1.042 (est.); 1.044 (measured)
FG: 1.003 (est.)
Fermentation Temperature: 70-74* F
IBU: 53.0 (modified Tinseth from BrewCipher)
ABV: 5.2%
SRM: 5.0

Mash: Single infusion for 60 minutes at 154* F

Boil: 60 minute


10.44 lb Dingemans Belgian Pilsner
4.00 lb Munich Malt
2.00 lb Flaked Wheat
0.88 lb Acid Malt
0.69 lb Flaked Oats

Salts & Water

Calcium Chloride (2.6g in the mash and 4.0g in the boil kettle)
Gypsum (2.8g in the mash and 4.3g in the boil kettle)
Sodium Chloride (2.5g all in the boil kettle)

5.9mL lactic acid added to the sparge water to get that pH to approximately 5.3. 

This time I added the salts to the mash and the boil kettle, aiming to get the full water profile in line, except for the sparge water, which is just acidified.

Resulting water profile is as follows:

Mash pH (est.): 5.25; measured at ~5.35 (pH meter drifting between 5.3 and 5.4)

Calcium: 94
Magnesium: 12
Sodium: 24
Chloride: 95
Sulfate: 96


9mL of HopShot (~3 AAU) at 60 minutes
4oz of Mosaic (11.6 AAU), pellet, 30 minutes after flameout
2oz of Belma (11.6 AAU), whole leaf, 30 minutes after flameout
2oz of Citra (12.9 AAU), whole leaf, 30 minutes after flameout

Let the hops sit in the wort for about 1.5 hours total, as I was busy bottling a few new beers in the Science & Art series and figured some additional exposure to the wort wouldn't hurt.

Dry Hops

Per 5 gallons:

2oz of Amarillo, whole leaf, 7 days
1oz of Citra, whole leaf, 7 days
1oz of Columbus, whole leaf, 7 days

After tasting the beer at two weeks, I decided that it was quite tropical/fruity from the flameout editions, and I wanted a little bit backing earth and floral character, as well as some additional citrus. Given that, I went with the combination above, with each 5-gallon portion getting a total of 4 ounces of whole leaf hops. 


2.0 tsp. Wyeast Yeast Nutrient at 10 minutes


Full batch used Ambrosia Blend 05 (now the third generation) from the cake of Farmhouse Mild (Batch 05). Each 5-gallon portion got 100mL of dense slurry from that cake.


07.27.2014: Removed chiller at 72*F, but let hops sit in the wort for 90 minutes or so before transferring to two buckets, each of which received 30 seconds of pure oxygen to each half just before pitching. Will plan to dry hop in 1-2 weeks. The temperature controller is set at 72*F with a 2*F differential, so should sit right in that range unless the garage gets really warm.

08.04.2014: Smell and taste are really nice. Didn't take any readings, but will soon. Temperature is at 74*F after a few days that were quite warm, though the water bath still keeps the temperature from swinging too drastically (also, just as important, from swinging too quickly).

08.10.2014: At two weeks, added the dry hops per the above after transferring 5 gallons to a keg, and leaving the other half in its bucket on the yeast. I had a bit of trouble weighing the hop bag down enough in the latter (even with plenty of stainless steel bolts!), so I may need to leave those ones in for a bit longer than a week.

09.01.2014: For the second half of the batch, I decided to bottle condition with fruit juice. For volume, I guessed that there were around 3 gallons in the keg, and shooting for 3 volumes, I used 26oz of Ceres fruit medley (guava, pineapple, papaya, mango, peach, and passion fruit), aiming for around 95g of sugar. Yield was 27 500mL bottles.

09.09.2014: Tasting notes for this batch.

11.08.2014: Two months later, and the fruit conditioned portion still doesn't seem to be conditioning properly. The fruit juice also didn't add much flavor, though it did add a TON of sediment. I don't think I'll be replicating that experiment again and, if I do, will make sure to filter any juice first.