Monday, February 24, 2020

Saison 2020 1.0

The finished beer
I've made only a few Saisons in the past.  In competition, they've not done all that well, I suppose because my taste in Saisons leans away from the overly dry, overly bitter end of the style toward something milder and more complex.  Today, I decided to review a bunch of winning Saison recipes and analyze what I thought made them winners... then build my own.

I liked the mix of Pilsner, Wheat, and Vienna I found in a BYO Magazine recipe.  I'd gotten complaints that one of my Saison recipes lacked malt complexity.  Another recipe referenced using cane sugar and a high mash temp to balance out the dryness from the cane sugar with some unfermentable sugars.  I wanted to mix Saaz, Citra, and Mandarina, but didn't have any Saaz on hand.  Last, but not least, I wanted a hint of spice and fruit.  That's where the coriander and grains of paradise come in.  Hopefully this will all play well with the Saison yeast.

Ingredients

4 pounds Briess Pilsner Malt
8 ounces Whiteswaen White Wheat Malt
8 ounces Briess Vienna Malt
8 ounces Cane Sugar
2.5 gallons of mash water, filtered
2.5 gallons of sparge water, filtered (if I brewed this again, I'd use 2 gallons)
1.5 ml of 88% lactic acid solution (mash)
0.15 ounces of Mandarina Bavaria hops pellets @ 9.2% AA (FWH 90 min.)
0.25 ounces of Citra hops pellets @ 13.0% AA (20 min.)
0.30 ounces of Mandarina Bavaria hope pellets @ 9.2% AA (5 min.)
2 grams crushed coriander seed
1 gram crushed seeds of paradise
1 package of Mad Fermentationist Saison yeast, raised up to 1L starter

Brewfather estimates the beer will have the following characteristics:
  • Batch Volume:  3.0 gallons estimated (3.5 actual, 0.5 dumped)
  • Original Gravity:  1.057 SG estimated (1.049 SG actual)
  • Pre-boil Gravity:  1.038 SG estimated (1.043 SG actual)
  • Final Gravity:  1.004 SG estimated
  • IBUs: 26
  • SRM: 2.4
  • ABV: 6.0% estimated, 6.3% actual
  • Fermenter:  Spock
  • Bottling Wand:  Stainless 2
  • Carbonation Method:  4-5 small carbonation tablets per bottle
Mash schedule:
  • Mash in at 113F (Ferulic Acid Rest) for 10 minutes
  • Mash at 120F for 25 minutes (Beta Glucan and Protein Rest)
  • Mash at 156F for 60 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 10 minutes
  • Sparge at 130F for as long as it takes...
Some of you might be wondering why I had a Ferulic Acid rest in here. That's because Belgian yeasts and similar types like Saison and Hefeweizen, can express their character better with some ferulic acid to work with.  Adding that rest, I should be able to get more Saison yeast character out of the batch.

Boil schedule:
  • 90 minutes:  0.15 ounces Mandarina Bavaria first wort hops (FWH)
  • 20 minutes:  0.25 ounces Citra hops
  • 5 minutes:  0.30 ounces Mandarina Bavaria, coriander, seeds of paradise
Fermentation plan:
  • Ferment at the yeast's midpoint range until complete
Notes and Observations

02/23/2020:  This brewing session was a lesson in preparing, tracking your inventory, and paying attention while you brew.  I got distracted when measuring my grain and dropped a half pound in the container instead of the 5 ounces I'd planned.  I had to correct that by increasing the overall grist to maintain the percentages of the malts, and increase the volume to compensate.  Then I found out that I didn't have Saaz hops like I thought I did (and had in my inventory), and compensated with Mandarina Bavaria.  And then almost forgot to include the sugar.  As if that wasn't enough, I ended up dropping the hops in at first wort before remembering that I was planning a 90-minute boil and was going to include the hops at 60 minutes.  So I think I goofed up in just about every way I could have, before the boil even started...

Post-boil volume was 3.5 gallons of chilled wort, about a half-gallon more than I wanted.  This led to an original gravity of 1.049 SG instead of the 1.057 SG that I'd intended.  Still, that figure (per Brewfather) represents a mash efficiency of 97% and a brew house efficiency of 81%.

The next question for me is whether the yeast I plan to use will come to life in the starter or not.  If not, I have a package of Danstar Belle Saison I can use, and I may receive another in a brewing supply shipment later this week.

02/25/2020:  The yeast seems to have taken off.  Gravity is down to 1.046 SG.

02/26/2020:  Gravity 1.042 SG, 62F.

02/28/2020:  Gravity 1.031 SG, 63F, and 2.5% ABV.

03/07/2020:  Gravity 1.003 SG, 6.1% ABV, and 62F.

03/15/2020:  Gravity 1.001 SG, 6.3% ABV.  Bottled using 5 small carbonation tablets per bottle.  A taste of the beer before bottling was impressive.  I'm hoping this holds through to the finished product.

03/23/2020:  I chilled and poured the first bottle of the beer last night.  It's got a nice pale gold color with thin white head.  The aroma is citrusy and mildly spicy.  The flavor starts with a nice malt and citrus note, drying out a little, and finishing with a citrus-peel-like bitterness.  I have to say, I think it's one of the best Saisons I've tasted.  I am very happy with how it turned out.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Acerglyn 2.0

In October 2019, I made an Acerglyn that I was fairly happy with.  I decided to revisit that recipe, but to dial up the percentage of maple syrup in the must and increase the volume so that I could split off a gallon or two and add toasted oak to that.

Last time around, I used 7 ounces of syrup and 2 pounds of honey.  That's around 18% of the fermentables as maple syrup.  This time around, I'm aiming for a higher percentage of maple syrup.

Ingredients

5 pounds of Wildflower Honey
2 pounds Grade A Dark Maple Syrup (formerly Grade B)
1 tsp. Fermaid K
1 tsp. DAP
1 packet  Lalvin K1V 1116 yeast
Filtered tap water to the 3 gallon mark in the fermenter

Characteristics of the brew:
  • Batch Volume: 3.0 gallons
  • Original Gravity: 1.085 SG estimated, 1.095 SG actual
  • Final Gravity: 0.992 SG estimated
  • ABV: 11.4% estimated
  • Fermenter Used:  Lister
  • Bottling Wand Used:  n/a
  • Carbonation Method Used:  n/a
As with my previous meads, the brewing process is pretty straightforward and simple:
  • Sanitize the fermenter and other tools to be used
  • Soak the honey in hot tap water for a while to loosen it up
  • Filter the tap water through a Brita filter
  • Pour about a gallon of water into the fermenter
  • Add the honey, maple syrup, and yeast nutrients
  • Attach the sanitized degassing wand to a cordless drill.
  • Insert the wand into the fermenter and run it until the honey is mixed in well and the must is aerated, adding water as needed to get the honey dissolved and reach the planned 3 gallon volume
  • Pitch the dry yeast directly atop the must and seal the fermenter
Because this is a comparatively low-gravity mead (clocking in around 12%, compared to a few I've done in the past), the fermentation plan is equally simple:
  • Ferment the must until final gravity is reached, or nearly reached.  (I hit 0.994 SG the last time around but the mix of fermentables was different, so this batch may ferment lower.)
  • Pull 1 gallon of the mead off the yeast and into another sanitized fermenter.  Add a blend of medium toast oak chips to it, in a stainless steel container.  Allow this to sit until the desired oak character is present.
  • Bottle the rest of the mead, half with four carbonation tablets, half without.  Optionally add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. of wine tannins.
  • When the oaked mead reaches the desired character, bottle it.  Do a few bottles with four carbonation tablets, the rest without.
My goal here is to end up with four variants of the recipe:
  • Non-oaked and still Acerglyn
  • Non-oaked and carbonated Acerglyn
  • Oaked and still Acerglyn
  • Oaked and carbonated Acerglyn
The reason I'm doing all these variants goes back to the original batch. I found it tasty and easy to drink as a still, non-oaked beverage, but also a tad boring.  I thought that oaking it might make it more interesting.  So might some carbonation.  This way I'll be able to try all four variants and decide what I like best for a future, larger batch.

Notes and Observations

02/23/2020:  I had originally planned to use less maple syrup in this batch, but got distracted while pouring it and ended up adding 2 pounds (32 ounces) instead of the 25 ounces I'd intended to use.  This bumped the OG up a little, but within a few points of what I wanted from the batch so I decided not to dilute it further.  Tap water this time of year in Ohio is pretty cold (57F), so I am a little concerned that it may not be warm enough for the yeast to get started for a while.

02/25/2020:  Gravity registered as low as 1.092 SG before bounding back up.  It is currently reading 1.095.

02/26/2020:  Gravity 1.081 SG, 64F.

02/28/2020:  Gravity 1.049 SG, 64F, and 6.8% ABV.

03/07/2020:  Yesterday I degassed the mead and added some nutrient to help it finish out.  Today the gravity has dropped to 1.006 SG and seems to be continuing to drop.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Passion Fruit Melomel 1.0

Yesterday, I brewed a Passion Fruit Milkshake IPA.  In the process of doing so, I opened a container of natural passion fruit flavoring I had purchased.  Since I didn't want that to go to waste, and I had been wanting to make a Passion Fruit flavored mead anyway, I decided to put that together while I was in the brewing area working on something else.

Ingredients

5 pounds of Wildflower Honey
2.9 ounces of Amoretti Natural Passion Fruit Flavoring
0.5 tsp. Fermaid K
0.5 tsp. DAP
1 packet Lalvin K1V 1116 dry yeast
Spring water to the 2-gallon level in the fermenter

This should yield a melomel with the following qualities:
  • Batch Size: 2.0 gallons (1.87 gallons, approximately, in fermenter)
  • Original Gravity: 1.075 SG estimated (1.108 SG actual)
  • Final Gravity: 0.984 SG estimated
  • ABV: 12.3%
  • Fermenter:  Yoda
  • Bottling Wand: n/a
  • Carbonation Method: n/a
Brewing method is pretty straightforward:
  • Sanitize fermentation bucket, degassing wand, and airlock
  • Soak honey container in hot tap water for a few minutes to loosen up the honey
  • Pour a little spring water in the fermentation bucket
  • Pour in the honey
  • Add yeast nutrient
  • Add passion fruit flavoring
  • Fill with water to the 2 gallon mark
  • Attach degassing wand to battery powered drill
  • Use the degassing wand to oxygenate the wort and mix all the ingredients
  • Gently sprinkle the yeast across the surface of the must
  • Snap on the lid and insert airlock
Fermentation plan is to leave the mead out at ambient temperature (62-65F) until the completion of fermentation.

After fermentation, my plan is to let the mead condition on its yeast cake for at least 2-3 weeks before bottling.  Depending on the clarity, I may pull it off the yeast and let it go a few months.

To bottle, I plan to do a few bottles with no carbonation (still), and the rest with three Brewer's Best carbonation tablets per bottle (medium carbonation).  I'll allow it condition in the bottle for at least two more weeks 

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

02/09/2020:  Putting the must together was extremely easy.  It became clear that I couldn't really fill the fermenter to the two-gallon mark without risking a problem with blowing out the airlock or the lid, so I stopped between the 1.75 gallon and 2.0 gallon marks.  I can always dilute it later if I like.  The initial gravity read 1.108 SG with a temperature of 66F.

02/10/2020:  Gravity is down to 1.107 SG and the temperature has dropped to 65F.  I don't see significant signs of activity in the airlock at this point, but didn't really expect to for another 12 hours or so.

02/11/2020:  Gravity is down to 1.106 SG and the temperature is up to 66F.  There were clear signs of active yeast when I peeked into the bucket last night, so I'm looking forward to seeing the gravity start dropping off more rapidly, soon.

02/12/2020:  Gravity is all over the place for the past several hours, registering as high as 1.112 SG and as low as 1.103 SG.  Temperature has been between 64-66F.  Around 10pm, I degassed the melomel, added more yeast nutrient, and pitched a second package of the same yeast.  I'm hoping this will get fermentation going strong again and allow it to finish out.

02/13/2010:  Gravity is reading 1.090 SG today, which represents 13% attenuation, and 2.7% ABV.  I'll plan to go down tonight or tomorrow night and degas it again, and possibly hit it with more nutrients to keep fermentation going.

02/14/2020:  Gravity 1.070 SG and 65F.

02/16/2020:  Gravity is down to 1.051.  Earlier in the day I degassed the must, oxygenated it a little at the same time, and added yeast nutrients to help keep fermentation going.

02/18/2020:  Gravity 1.028 SG and 64F.  11.8% ABV.

02/20/2020:  Gravity 1.009 SG and 64F.  14.4% ABV.

02/22/2020:  Gravity 1.008 SG and 64F, 15.1% ABV.  Fermentation is definitely slowing but does not appear to have stopped yet.

02/25/2020:  Gravity 0.998 SG, 63F, and 15.8% ABV.

02/26/2020:  Gravity 0.997 SG, 62F, and 15.9% ABV.

02/28/2020:  Gravity 0.996 SG, 63F, and 16.0% ABV.

03/07/2020:  Gravity 0.996 still.  A sample from the fermenter last night was kind of harsh with a significant bitterness from the passion fruit.  I think it's going to need some backsweetening and probably some extended aging to really mellow out and taste good.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Passion Fruit Milkshake IPA 1.0

The finished beer
Long-time readers and friends will be familiar with the fact that I am not that fond of the IPA style in general.  I get far more enjoyment from the flavors inherent in specialty malts and yeast, as we find in Belgian style beers.  That said, I do occasionally drink one of the more flavorful IPAs like Rhinegeist Truth.  A number of friends and family members enjoy so-called Milkshake IPAs, and I've enjoyed some (and less, others) over the last few years.  Having spent a couple of years in Brazil and getting to experience the flavor of passion fruit first hand, I thought that might make a particularly interesting milkshake IPA.

I reviewed a few successful and popular Milkshake IPA recipes and settled on a grain bill that mixed barley, oats, and wheat to achieve the signature hazy thickness.  A high mash temperature should ensure some sweetness, with a bit of lactose to back that up.  Lots of passion fruit puree and the use of Southern Passion hops should bring the fruit flavors and aromas I'm looking for.

Ingredients

4 pounds Briess 2-row brewers malt
1 pound Whiteswaen Classic Wheat Malt
1 pound malted oats
1 pound Quaker flaked oats
a couple of handfuls of rice hulls
3 ml of 88% lactic acid
1 gram of Gypsum
3.6 gallons of mash water (Dublin Ohio tap water)
3 pounds of Vintner's Harvest passion fruit puree (fermenter addition)
2 ounces of Amoretti artisan natural passion fruit flavoring (fermenter)
1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient (15 min)
1.5 ounces Southern Passion hops pellets @ 12%AA (5 min)
8 ounces Lactose (during whirlpool)
4 ounces Lactose (at bottling)
1/2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract (late in primary fermentation
1/2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract (at bottling)
2 ounces Southern Passion hops pellets @ 12% AA (160F whirlpool 30 min.)
2 ounces Southern Passion hops pellets @ 12% AA (160F whirlpool 15 min.)
2.5 ounces Southern Passion hops pellets @ 12% AA (dry hop 7 days)
1 package LalBrew (Lallemand) American East Coast Ale yeast (dry)

Brewfather indicates the recipe has the following qualities:
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
  • Original Gravity: 1.093 SG estimated, 1.094 SG actual before the addition of pain fruit puree, then 1.078 SG
  • Pre-boil Gravity: 1.064 SG estimated
  • Pre-boil Volume:  3.4 gallons estimated
  • Final Gravity: 1.031 SG estimated
  • IBUs: 51
  • SRM: 4.3
  • Brewing System:  Grainfather (modified)
  • Fermenter: n/a
  • Bottling Wand: Stainless 1
  • Carbonation method:  3 small tablets per 12-ounce bottle
Mash schedule:
  • Mash in and mash step 1:  155F for 60 minutes
  • Mash out 168F for 10 minutes
  • No-sparge method planned
Given the thin mash used, I decided I would not sparge this batch unless the pre-boil volume was below the intended amount.  I chose to go for a thin mash both to maximize mash efficiency and to reduce the chances of a stuck mash from all the wheat and oat in the recipe.

Boil schedule:
  • 60 minutes:  No additions
  • 15 minutes:  Yeast nutrient
  • 5 minutes:  1.5 ounces Southern Passion
  • 0 minutes:  Cool the wort to 160F and hold it there for whirlpool
Whirlpool schedule:
  • 30 minutes: Add 2 ounces Southern Passion
  • 15 minutes: Add 2 ounces Southern Passion
  • 0 minutes:  Chill to yeast pitching temperature while pumping into fermenter
Yeast properties:
  • This yeast is said to ferment in 7 days, and perhaps a bit slower than most ale strains.
  • The lag phase may be 24-36 hours
  • Medium to high attenuator
  • Medium flocculation
  • Neutral to slightly fruity and estery flavor and aroma
  • The optimal temperature range for fermentation is 59F to 72F
  • Lallemand rates it as having a moderate tropical fruit aroma/flavor, and lighter red apple, with possible hints of acid, alcoholic, and green apple to it.
Fermentation plan:
  • London Ale III likes to be between 59F and 72F.  Ambient basement temps at this time around around the lower end of that range, so I'm planning to keep the fermenter in the cooler part of the basement and let ambient air keep it cool.
  • Because I should be overpitching here, using a full package to 2.5 gallons, I'm not going to bother with rehydrating the yeast or creating a starter.  But I am adding a solid dose of yeast nutrient to help keep the yeast healthy, and I'll be splashing the wort well as it falls into the fermenter to ensure aeration.
  • Once the gravity is down near the last 10 points or so, I'll add the dry hops and then wait for the gravity to stabilize for at least 4 days (and up to 7) before bottling.
Post-Brew Notes and Observations

02/08/2020:  I crushed the barley, oat malt, and wheat.  I then added the flaked oats and rice hulls to the container and stirred everything well to get it all mixed together as evenly as I could.  I added a few scoops at a time and stirred after each addition, then gave it all a good stir at the end to break up any dough balls.   The 2.05 qt/lb mash thickness and rice hulls, I hoped, would prevent any stuck mash or (if I eventually do sparge) stuck sparge.

About 20 minutes in, mash pH read 4.95.  I added a quarter-teaspoon of calcium carbonate to bring it up a bit and waited 5 minutes to check the pH again.  Clearly I didn't need to add the Lactic Acid that Brewfather recommended. I should have at least waited to add it.  Lesson learned.  

Another 5 minutes after the calcium carbonate addition, the pH was still around 4.9.  I added another quarter teaspoon the try to bring it back up.  It continued to stay around 4.9.  After reviewing a Brulosophy experiment where a wort was intentionally mashed at a low pH and had no negative effect, I decided not to add any more calcium carbonate for fear of messing with the flavor.  Apparently there are some professional breweries that intentionally mash as low as 4.5 to get good results.

The Amoretti natural passion fruit flavoring recommends dosage of 7-14 ounces by weight per 10 gallons in drinks, which would work out to roughly 1.75 ounces for 2.5 gallons.  I decided to round that up to 2 ounces to ensure there's a clear passion fruit flavor in addition to that provided by the passion fruit puree.  

Gravity during the whirlpool hop stand registered 21.2 Brix, which for my refractometer is 1.094 SG.

When I pumped the chilled wort onto the passion fruit puree, then stirred it all in well, the gravity of the wort dropped to 1.078 SG.  That's lower than I wanted but acceptable.

02/09/2020:  There is clear activity from the airlock and the gravity has dropped down to 1.076 SG.  The temperature is reading 65F.

02/10/2020:  Gravity is down to 1.058 SG and temperature is up to 66F.

02/11/2020:  Gravity is down to 1.036 SG and temperature is up to 69F.

02/12/2020:  Gravity is 1.033 SG and temperature is down to 62F.  We're just two points from the expected final gravity.  At 9:30pm, the airlock was still bubbling nicely.  I opened the fermenter and dropped three tea strainers containing a total of 2.5 ounces of Southern Passion hops pellets.  I'm expecting this dry hop addition to kick off some hop creep, which will break down some of the residual sugars and cause additional fermentation, so I won't plan to bottle this until I've seen no gravity change for at least 3-4 days straight.  The last thing I want to see is this turning into a batch of bottle bombs and wasting the effort (and expense) that went into brewing it.  In fact, the gravity has already dropped from 1.033 SG when I wrote some of the earlier sentences to 1.032 SG.  The beer right now looks like a jug of passion fruit juice with about a half-inch head of yeast on top.  I'm hoping it turns out well.

02/13/2020:  Gravity has hit the original FG estimate of 1.031 SG today.  With the dry hops having only been added last night, I'm expecting the "hop creep" to drop it a little lower, but we'll see.  Regardless, I'll want to get the beer away from the dry hops no later than February 19 to avoid any grassy notes.

02/14/2020:  Gravity 1.030 SG and 62F.

02/16/2020:  Transferred the beer off the yeast cake and sediment, then tasted it.  The lactose was not detectable, as the beer primarily tasted dry and bitter with a distinct passion fruit note.  I ended up adding two ounces of lactose dissolved in distilled water and another half-teaspoon of vanilla.  This helped but wasn't enough, so I added another two ounces of lactose.  At this point, I debated what to do.  It was better now, but not as sweet as many milkshake IPAs I've had. I could add more lactose, but I thought that would risk another problem I've seen in these beers, which is that the over-use of lactose creates a weird, artificial flavor to the beer.  Since passion fruit is a tart fruit anyway, it seemed like a good idea to stop here and let the fruit's true nature come through.  I bottled it in 12-ounce bottles and loaded each with three small carbonation tablets each (low carbonation).  I'd have gone higher, but my concern was that the dry hops might cause some hop creep that would further increase carbonation.