Monday, February 29, 2016

Supple Citrus - A Citrus Saison Brew Day

I love a Saison that has a citrus quality to it.  Some of the popular yeast strains used to ferment them can give the citrus qualities but using actual citrus in the beer is something I've liked to do for a while now.  Each year I brew a beer I call Supple Citrus and I've used a different citrus fruit each time.  So far I've used Minneola, Satsuma, and Tangelo Oranges.  This beer was mostly inspired by Crooked Stave's St. Bretta beers.  Each season they release the beer with a different citrus fruit.  Some of my favorite ones released have been the ones with Blood Oranges.  I've always been unlucky finding Blood Oranges around here but this year I was fortunate enough to find some beautiful fresh organic ones.  I saw them and decided it was time to brew this beer.

Another inspiration for this beer is Jester King's Provenance series.  I'll admit, I'm inspired by a ton of their beers.  Between them and Tired Hands, there is a ton to be inspired by.  But the Provenance beers are along the same lines of St. Bretta.  The use citrus zest and juice to compliment the beers and make something unique.  I also find it interesting that they use the fruit juice in primary instead of adding it to secondary.  Here is their quote:

"We don’t add fruit (or fruit flavorings or concentrates for that matter) to filtered and pasteurized beer at packaging time to make what amounts to a beer cooler. Rather, we incorporate the fruit into the fermentation, so that wild yeast and souring bacteria can transform the fruit flavors into something that’s greater than the sum of the parts. For instance, think about the difference between grape juice and wine. Why are the two so different from one another? It’s because the grape juice has been fermented by living microorganisms. We apply the same principle to the use of fruit in our beer."

That's very interesting compared to what a lot of others do.  I've been doing this with my beers each year and loving the results.  You get the qualities of the fruit juice without the sweetness and you get other subtle flavors and aromas from the fermentation of the fruit juice you otherwise may not get.  It all depends on what you are looking for.  I know many others that will add zest and juice after primary and like their results with that process.  I do like the idea of "dry zesting."  I may have to try that in the future.

Edit:  The same night I put this post up, Jester King released another blog post with some of the homebrew recipes for their beers.  You can find them here.  I was pretty close to their recipe without even knowing!

I'm also using something Shaun Hill developed with citrus called International Citrus Units.  He discusses this with Brandon Jones on his blog, Embrace the Funk, here.  Using this formula of 1000mg of zest per 1L of liquid, I'm targeting 500 International Citrus Units, or ICUs, for my 6 gallon batch.  With the amount of wort after the boil being just over 6.5 gallons, I figured I'd be somewhere in that ball park.  Check out the article, really interesting stuff.  Michael Thorpe of Spontaneous Funk also has a great write up for his beer Demeter Auran using this technique.  Click here for that link.

If I wasn't careful, I would have eaten every one of these instead of putting
them in the beer.  They were magnificent.

I call this beer Supple Citrus.  The definition of supple is bending and moving easily and gracefully: flexible.  When used as a verb it means to make more flexible.  I gave this beer that name as I am always flexible as to what citrus fruit I use in it.  I also find this beer to be graceful and delicate in the end product.  A beer that is meant to be drank in volumes or one that can be shared with others.

Recipe:  Supple Citrus
Brewer:  Gus
Batch:  9
Date:  2-28-16

Batch Size:  6.00 gal
Boil Size:  9.78 gal
Post Boil Volume:  6.63 gal
Estimated OG:  1.045
Estimated Color:  2.4 SRM
Estimated IBU:  20.0 IBUs
Estimated ICU:  500 ICUs
Brewhouse Efficiency:  70.00%
Est Mash Efficiency:  74.4 %
Boil Time:  90 Minutes

85%  Pilsner Malt
15%  Red Wheat Malt

Mash Profile:  148F for 75 min, mash out @ 168F for 10 min, fly sparge with 170F water to reach boil volume of 9.78 gallons

10.7 IBUs of Aramis @ 60 min
9.3 IBUs of Mandarina Bavaria @ 10 min

White Labs WLP585, Wyeast 3726, White Labs WLP648, Omega OYL-605, GigaYeast GB110, East Coast Yeast ECY04

240mL blood orange juice and 12.5g of blood orange zest added during whirlpool

As you can see I used a great many microbes to carry out fermentation on this beer.  The 585 and 3726 were fresh off of starters and I expect them to take care of the bulk of fermentation.  I pitched two vials of WLP648 Brettanomyces Trois Vrai, one bag Omega Lacto Blend, one bag GigaYeast Fast Souring Lacto, and half a vial of East Coast Yeast ECY04 Brettanomyces Anomala with them.  The latter vials and packs had all been expired mostly but only by a little bit.  Sort of a fridge cleaning beer in that aspect I guess you could say.  They may or may not have much effect on the beer.  But maybe the brettanomyces strains are still viable.  If the LAB have any live cells still, they may give a little tartness to the beer over time.  If they don't, that will be fine too.  I thought I'd rather dump them in the beer than dump them down the drain.

Not pictured are 3726 and ECY-04

The malt bill is very simple and strait forward.  I wanted to use Pilsner and wheat malt to give the beer the needed qualities while letting the yeast, citrus, and hops shine.  For the hops, I chose to use Aramis to bitter and Mandarina Bavaria for flavor/aroma.  Both of the hops have a nice citrus quality and Mandarina Bavaria is very orange forward.  It smelled amazing when I opened the bag.

The entire brew day was very smooth.  I even started a loaf of homemade sourdough bread while brewing this one.  My efficiency is creeping back up as well.  My target was 1.045 but I ended up with a starting gravity of 1.050.  I'm sure a little bump came from the juice but I'm seeing better efficiency with each brew now.

I'm very excited with out the brew day went and the wort turned out.  Really great flavors that I think will be great fresh and will evolve a good bit over time in the bottle.  I'll keep everyone posted as it goes along.

Semi open fermentation as I'll just let the tin foil sit on the top for the first few days.

2-29-16:  Bubbling away at 6:15AM.  I opened the chest freezer and citrus aromas filled the room!  Temp set at 68F.

3-2-16:  Set temp controller to 72F but allowed it to free rise to this temp and be held here for fermentation to finish.

3-13-16:  Gravity is 1.004.  Moved to room temperature to clean up and let the brett strains work.

6-19-16:  Gravity is 1.000.  Lots of citrus and pepper notes.  I may blend with a touch of sour beer and add some citrus puree.  I've seen this recently and it sounds wonderful.


Andrew "Gus" Addkison
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