Monday, April 24, 2017

Kathleen Round 4 - Split Batch

For the first brew of Kathleen for 2017 I'm trying a lot of things and making a change to the target starting gravity.  With this batch I'm going to brew 11 gallons so that I can pitch two different yeast blends and see how I like them.  I've been meaning to use both of these for a while and decided I wanted to use a familiar beer with them so that I will be able to detect the differences in each of them.  Since I've brewed Kathleen a good many times now, I know the ins and outs of it and what characters it typically brings forth. 

One of the blends I'll be using is a special release from Bootleg Biology called Saison Parfait: New World Saison Blend.  I really love the description on the website of this one.  It sounds like the perfect Saison blend to me as I love the classic peppery esters from the DuPont strains on the market, but I also love the fruity aspects of some other strains like 3726.  It also says this blend will leave a little body and good mouthfeel in the beer.  That's something I really enjoyed when using ECY08 in the beers that I've brewed with that.  At first I wasn't a fan, but after doing these beers for a while now, the added body actually helps give the beers some heft and adds to the drinkablity.  When they end up so dry as mine typically do, if there isn't any body the beers will feel astringent and can actually be a chore to drink at times.

The other blend I'll be fermenting half of this brew with is the Saison Blend II from The Yeast Bay.  I have been eying this one since it was released a while back and just never took the plunge to use it as I had so many things to use on hand. 

"Close your eyes while drinking a beer fermented with this blend, and you'll feel like you're laying on freshly turned earth in an old citrus grove."

Doesn't that sound awesome?  I can't wait to see how this blend works out.  As I stated before, I enjoy a combination of peppery earthiness and some fruity qualities in my Saisons.  I often rely on strains of brettanomyces or new world hops to get the fruity qualities so it will be nice to see what both of these blends will do.

Starters I made a few days before brew day.

Recipe:  Kathleen
Brewer:  Gus
Date:  4-19-17

Batch Size:  11.00 gal  (I use 11 gallons to account for loss in the tubing, heat exchanger and any other places in the system)
Boil Size:  13.33 gal
Post Boil Volume:  11.46 gal
Estimated OG:  1.04(Actual was 1.048.  Efficiency was better than I assumed)
Estimated Color:  2.5 SRM
Estimated IBU:  28.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency:  74.6 %
Est Mash Efficiency:  74.6 %
Boil Time:  75 Minute

72.6%  Pilsner Malt (Weyermann BARKE)
10.0%  Spelt Malt
10.0%  Raw Wheat
7.4%  Malted Oats (Thomas Fawcett)

17.5 IBUs of EKG (or whatever I have on hand now) @ 60 min
7.4 IBUs of Amarillo @ 15 min
1.7 IBUs of EKG @ 5 min
2.7 IBUs of Amarillo @ 5 min
Dry hop with Amarillo and Hallertau Blanc  (this may change depending on the beers)

Bootleg Biology Saison Parfait: New World Saison Blend
The Yeast Bay Saison Blend II

Mash Schedule:
Temperature mash of 149F for 75 min with no mashout.

You may notice I have slightly modified the recipe to lower the OG.  I am wanting to get Kathleen even more drinkable and shooting for slightly less ABV with this batch.  Hop amounts changed just a bit due to what I had on hand at the time. 

Like them thicky-thicks.

After the mash I began lautering and pulled the 13.3 gallons I needed for the boil.  My preboil gravity was a little higher (1.040) than my target (1.036) but instead of adding water to bring it down, I just went with it.  I boiled for 75 minutes and added my hops per the schedule above.  The SG after the boil was 1.048.  Right around where my original recipe was so I'll have to make a few changes to the grist if I want it to be lower.  My efficiency is getting better with every brew day.  Even this large 10 gallon batch I was better than my target.

Full boil kettle on this batch.

I ran wort through the chiller and divided the 10 gallons the best I could between the two FerMonster XLs.  These are quickly becoming some of my favorite fermentation vessels.  I love my Speidel still but these have a smaller footprint.  Also, you can almost get two of the FerMonsters for the price of one of the Speidels.

The Yeast Bay Saison Blend II on the left and Bootleg Biology Saison Parfait on the right.  This pic was 6-7 hours after pitching.

Both blends will be fermented "semi-open" at room temperature in my dining room.  Right now the area is sitting around 72-74F and should be perfect to test out what these will do.

I pitched the yeast blends from the starters and covered the opening with sanitized tin foil.  I press the tin foil around the top but I don't actually make an effort to seal the lid.  I usually leave the tin foil on the top for 5-7 days or until fermentation signs start to fade.  I've really enjoyed the results the semi-open fermentations.  I do them now with pretty much all my Saison ferments as well as my British ale ferments.

I will more than likely dry hop each of these and then package the beer.  Some I'll bottle fresh and unblended so I can see how the yeast blend turns out.  The rest will either be blended with mature beer or maybe even blended together.  I'll see what the beer tells me. 


4-20-17:  6:00AM active fermentation showing on the Saison II Blend.  About 20 minutes layer, visible activity with the Saison Parfait.

4-24-17:  6:00AM activity has slowed down and the krausen is falling on both beers.  I removed the tin foil and added the cap and airlock.

4-30-17:  Activity is very slow.  The Saison Blend II has started to drop clear already.  Saison Parfait is still cloudy and looks to be full of yeast but the airlock is not bubbling.  I'll take a gravity reading this coming week and decide where to go from there.

5-2-17:  TYB Saison Blend II gravity was 1.004 and it was heavy on the phenolics with an undertone of citrus notes.  Saison Parfait was down a bit further to 1.003.  Citrus, little malt character, bit of tropical fruits, and a hint of pepper.  Both really promising.  I'll package when I get back from the Enmbrace the Funk Festival this coming weekend.

6-20-17:  I was out of Blanc hops to dry hop so I'm waiting for those to come in.  When they do I'll package a few bottles of this how they are then dry hop the rest to be blended into batches 4 and 5 of Kathleen.

Good things!

Andrew "Gus" Addkison
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Thursday, January 12, 2017


2016 was a pretty great year for me brewing wise.  I tackled a lot of projects and brewed a lot of beer.  I was even able to write a guest article for Craft Commander on yeast foraging.  You can check that out here.  I also built a new keezer so that I could serve more beers on tap and bottle less of my beer.  That was a big help.  I got way more organized and scheduled with my brewing.  I also shared a lot more of my beer with people I feel could give better feedback than I have before.  (I still have a few boxes to get out to some folks.)

All of that aside, I'm really happy with my brewing in 2016.  I plan to keep all that going and brew even more in 2017.  I have 5 taps to keep full now after all!  I'm also going to add in some other styles of beer to my brewing.  Saison will always be my greatest love when it comes to beer styles.  I'll always brew it and I'll always enjoy drinking it.  As much as I love Saison, I am also enamored with some other styles too.  British Bitter has always been a favorite style of mine.  I brewed a few Bitters last year and at the time of this writing have already brewed one in 2017.  Now that I have more taps, I'll more than likely have a Bitter or something similar on tap at all times.  I am also an avid fan of German beers.  Pilsner, Hefeweizen, Bock, Helles, Munich Dunkel, Altbier, Marzen, really all of the sessionable beers from Germany are what I enjoy drinking when I can find them.  I'm going to be brewing a good many of those to keep on tap this year as well.  I think brewing different styles will help me learn more about brewing and improve my skills as a brewer.  I'll be writing a few posts covering these as I go along.  I know they won't be "farmhouse" styles but maybe there are others out there that enjoy them as much as I do. 

Another type of beer I've been brewing but not writing about lately are hoppy beers.  I enjoy hops as much as the next person, I just don't go as nuts as some people do for them.  My girlfriend and a lot of close friends love drinking them so I'll be brewing more of those too.  I don't have a ton of experience brewing IPAs and Double IPAs but this year is going to be the year I change that.

For projects for 2017, I have a new fermentation chamber project in the works now.  This will be aimed to be a lagering and cold storage chamber for brewing and keeping lagers, Bière de Garde and any other style that may need some cold conditioning.  I think this will help a ton with scheduling and time frames of my brewing.  Saison I've never really worried about temperature.  I learned in 2016 by brewing a lot of Bière de Garde that cold conditioning really gums up the works when brewing any other beer that would really need temperature control.  I have a dorm size fridge that I've been using for yeast storage in mind for this project.

One other project I have in mind is a grain mill cart.  I'd like to get my mill mounted to something that will be easy to move around my garage and get it out of the way but also be a place I can store a few other things.  I think this would help a ton even being used during brew day to hold things I'll use throughout the brew.

This isn't near the updated I had in the beginning of 2016 but I really wanted to jot down some thoughts for what I have planned for 2017.  This will be the year I tackle some new styles like Lagers and IPAs.  I plan on doing some more large split batches in there too.  Either way, there will be plenty of beer.  Here's to the new year!

Good things!

Andrew "Gus" Addkison
@aaddkison on Twitter
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