Each velvety mouthful sends your palate fluttering into honey heaven. That's bee-cause Strange Roots crafted their mead-like Still Ale with copious amounts of real orange blossom honey and malted barley! And that's drizzled on top of an already-smooth Pilsner malt base, resinous hops, and Pennsylvania wild yeast for a touch of funk... [snip] this brew drips with earth tones, florals, and sugar cookie-like sweetness. All the while, gentle stings of apricot and orange citrus keep the experience from becoming too cloying.
This is the bottle I opened almost two weeks ago. It was really tasty, and inspired me to try my own version of it.
I'm not trying to replicate theirs exactly, which is probably not possible without their wild yeast and knowledge of the hop variety they presumably used. In fact, I'm planning to leave the hops out of this one. I'm going to mash it very low so the wort is mostly fermentable (meaning little residual sugar) and the hops may not be missed. (I could not detect the "resinous hops" mentioned in the Tavour post, or any hops at all.) I'm going to add some bitter orange peel, to dial up the orange note in the flavor. Although I'm aiming for an ABV close to what they had, we'll see if that's feasible.
9.5 pounds Viking Pale Ale Malt
2.0 pounds Orange Blossom Honey
1 ounce Bitter Orange Peel (15 min.)
1/4 tablet Whirlfloc (15 min.)
0.5 tsp. Yeast Nutrient (15 min.)
1 package Red Star Premier Cuvee champagne yeast
4.75 gallons of mash water
No sparge water
According to Brewfather, the brew should have the following qualities:
- Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (2.6 actual)
- BJCP Style: M4A. Braggot
- Original Gravity: 1.137 estimated (1.096 SG actual)
- Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.091 at 3.6 gallons estimated (1.044 SG actual at 4.1 gallons)
- IBUs: 0
- ABV: 17.8% estimated based on 1.137 SG, 10.8% revised estimate based on 1.096 SG
- SRM: 7.8
- 20 minutes at 120F for Beta Glucan and Protein breakdown
- 40 minutes at 140F for high fermentability
- 20 minutes ramping up 5 degrees at a time from 140F to 155F
- 10 minutes mash out at 168F
Mash pH was measured 2-3 times during the 140F step and stayed at 5.35.
- Although I'd planned a one-hour boil, pre-boil volume registered about 4.1 gallons (and gravity only around 1.044 SG), so I added 45 minutes to the boil to bring the volume down closer to my target of 2.5 gallons in the fermenter and raise the gravity.
- 105 minutes: No additions
- 15 minutes: Add Whirlfloc, Yeast Nutrient, and Bitter Orange Peel
- 0 minutes: Chill to yeast-safe temperature
- Aerate well with pure O2 prior to pitching
- Pitch yeast dry atop the wort. After 30-45 minutes, swirl the sealed fermenter to make sure the yeast goes into suspension.
- Ferment at ambient basement temperatures (which are well within Premier Cuvee's range) until fermentation is complete.
- After 2-3 days, if fermentation seems to be slowing, add 0.25 tsp. yeast nutrient and oxygenate again to keep fermentation going.
- Bottle without any carbonation, as the Strange Roots product was.
Post-Brew Notes and Observations
Original gravity, even after boiling down the volume, only reached 1.096 SG. That's a far cry below the 1.137 SG originally estimated. I decided to let it go, to see how this turns out flavor-wise. If it's good, I'll try re-brewing later with an eye toward hitting the 17.8% ABV like Strange Roots did. Brewhouse Efficiency on this batch hit a mere 58.51%. I don't know why it was so low, unless maybe the Viking Pale Ale Malt isn't converting well. It stayed in a good pH range, it was a thin mash, and it had well over an hour to convert, so there's no reason the gravity should have been so low.
01/21/2020 7:03pm: There is a thick krausen now where before there was none. Gravity has dropped from 1.096 down to 1.091 SG and the temperature has dropped from a high of 66F at yeast pitch to a low of 63F an hour ago before rising up to its current 64F level.