Thursday, July 7, 2016

Recipe: Blank Space (First Edition) [Batch #105]

Back in May, I had some friends over for a brew day, and we decided to do a saison with key lime juice and zest.  We wanted hops to complement that citrus character, and decided to use newer hops that would give additional "green fruit" character.  Namely, Hallertau Blanc, Nelson Sauvin, and Sorachi Ace.  Together, these hops should impart some gooseberry, lime, white grape, and lemon/lime character.  (I know that some people get unusual flavors like dill from Sorachi Ace, but I've always ended up with a nice citrus character, though I've never used them in a beer that didn't also feature citrus zest, so who knows what they're like all by themselves.)

Not only am I a big fan of all these flavors, but I knew that by the time this beer was done with primary fermentation, my oak barrel would be empty and I thought this would all work well with a bit of oak and its accompanying characteristics.  

I ultimately decided that I wanted to have a non-barrel-aged portion of the beer that I could also dry hop to have an ultra-refreshing (and low ABV!) beer for the summer.  Because of that, a portion of the barrel will end up with some other blonde saison as a component of the fill.  I nearly always have some sort of blonde saison around, so that shouldn't be a problem, especially since I use the same Ambrosia 005 blend as part of nearly all of my fermentations.  This is particularly true given the fact that all of my carboys and buckets are scratched and certainly house plenty of that culture, although I recently purchased a conical that I'll use for "clean" saisons going forward that I can either bottle/keg that way, or introduce specific Brett strains and/or other bugs at packaging to see how they work in secondary.

I mentioned above that a plus to this beer is its low alcohol content, but that doesn't really make this beer any sort of outlier.  As those who read this blog frequently have likely noticed, it's extremely rare for me to brew a beer that ends up over 6% ABV, as I like my saisons light, refreshing, and consumable in (relatively) large quantities.

The recipe for the full batch is as follows:

Batch Number: 105
Brew Date: May 14, 2016
Bottle/Keg Date: See notes below.
Batch Size: 20 Gallon
OG: 1.042 (est.)
FG: 1.004 (measured)
Fermentation Temperature: Room temperature, fluctuating around 65*-70*F.
IBU: 67.0 (modified Tinseth)
ABV: 5.0% (est.)
SRM: 3.0

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


20.00 lb French Pilsner (57%)
9.00 lb Wheat, Flaked (26%)
3.25 lb Acid Malt (9%)
3.00 lb Oats, Flaked (9%)

Salts & Water

All salts added directly to the mash along with the strike water.  I'm now using a Blichmann BrewEasy system, so everything is recirculating between two pots.  All the liquid is then drained into the boil kettle at the end of the mash.

5.0g Calcium Chloride
8.0g Calcium Sulfate
12.0g Sodium Chloride

Resulting water profile is as follows:

Mash pH (est.): 5.30
Calcium: 64
Magnesium: 12
Sodium: 51
Chloride: 104
Sulfate: 69


2.0 oz Sorachi Ace (10.4 AAU), pellet, at 60 minutes
5.0 oz Nelson Sauvin (13.2 AAU), pellet, at flameout
4.0 oz Hallertau Blanc (16.8 AAU), pellet, at flameout
2.0 oz Sorachi Ace (10.4 AAU), pellet, at flameout

Dry hop forthcoming to the non-barrel-aged portion.


4 tsp. Wyeast Yeast Nutrient at 10 minutes
2 Tbsp. Key lime zest (5-gallon portion only)
100 mL Key lime juice (5-gallon portion only)


Ambrosia Blend 005


05.31.2016: Added key lime juice  (100mL) and zest (2 Tbsp.) to a 5-gallon portion of the batch being fermented in a bucket.

7.06.2016:  I rinsed the barrel with several rounds of hot water followed by a spray-out with the hose, then several rounds of cool water.  I then purged the barrel with CO2 and started adding beer:
  • 4.5 gallons of Blank Space (carboy-fermented). SG of 1.006.  Light lemon and green grape with definite backing flaked grain body and feel.
  • 5.5 gallons of Blank Space (bucket-fermented). SG of 1.004.  Flavor is similar to the carboy version but with a little bit of sulfur in the nose at first, though that quickly dissipated. 
  • 3 gallons of Wallonian-fermented wort from the 04.29.2016 WPA batch (Batch 104). SG is 1.004.
I added the rest of the Wallonian Farmhouse portion of Batch #104 to the carboy fermented with Ambrosia 005 from that batch.  That carboy is now at max capacity, and I plan to transfer that beer onto some watermelon juice soon.

12.17.2016: Emptied the barrel into kegs.

01.01.2017: One full keg of Black Space received 33g of Galaxy pellets. The other received 43g of Nelson Sauvin.  Both kegs bottled after dry hopping was complete.

01.14.17: 3 gallon keg remained (approximately). It's been carbonating in the keezer and has a bit of sulfur and is a bit too oaky. Added 1oz of Denali pellets in a muslin bag. Keezer at 45*F.