Friday, August 3, 2018

Tasting Notes - Inspired Beer - Orval

This took a little longer than expected but I've finally got the tasting notes of the Orval inspired beer below.  I'm working on the next installment of this little series so keep an eye out!

Brew day notes here!

ABV: 6.96%
SG:  1.057 or 14.04°P
FG:  1.004 or 1.03°P
Apparent Attenuation:  93%

Appearance:  Definitely a little lighter than Orval.  Although the bottle of Orval I have to compare it to is a few years old.  So maybe this will darken a bit over time.  Rich gold in color with hints of orange.  Crystal clear with a white head that dissipated really quickly.  It's not highly carbonated and I've seen lots of brett beers not have the best head retention as well as some Trappist beers that have sub par head retention.  It's beautiful in the setting sun on this warm day. 

Aroma:  Right in the beginning you get a blast of fruity notes.  Some indistinct but also some stone fruit notes.  Bit of dried apricot and maybe a light note of peach and some very faint cherry.  Just a touch of malt character comes through with a finish of the hops.  Bit of pepper, small amounts of citrus more like lemon than orange and just a very faint note of funky woodsy notes.  Not overly funky and definitely more fruity than Orval.  I really enjoy the aroma.  

Flavor:  Follows the nose with the stone fruit.  It seems to be a little less complex on the flavor when compared to the nose.  There is a nice bitter, dry finish and at the end of it all you get a bit of the hops with a very light malt sweetness.  It's extremely refreshing.  Maybe a touch of pear or apple in there when you dig.  Some citrus and light, light funk as it finishes.

Mouthfeel:  Medium to Medium light.  Could definitely be better with more carbonation.  I'm not sure why this one didn't carbonate as high as I intended but I'll fix that when I brew it again. 

Really is a beautiful beer.

Overall:  I am glad I called this an "Inspired Beer" instead of a clone recipe.  The two beers do differ pretty greatly.  The blend from Wyeast seems to be a little different than what Orval uses at least as far as the brettanomyces goes.  Orval has light fruity notes but a lot more of what I would call earthy and peppery tones from their strain.  The brett strain in this Wyeast Trappist blend has a ton of fruity notes.  Very tasty but just different.  Next time I'll probably do my own blend of yeasts to replicate this and use the brett in either secondary or bottling only.

Another change I would make would be the dry hopping rates.  I would definitely increase it.  I dry hopped this beer with 2oz of 7.2AA Aramis hops and I would increase that by at least an ounce and maybe even double it in my 6.5 gallon batch to get more character.  I really enjoy the Aramis hop in this style of beer though so I'm glad I have more of it to use.  I believe Orval uses a more woody/earthy hop in there beers (maybe EKG or something like that) so I may try a blend of hops in the dry hop next time.

I'll also use more of the golden candi sugar in the next batch and maybe a higher percentage of the pale malt vs Pilsner.  I definitely like the base and thing it could be bang on with a few tweaks.  Let me know if you brew something like this or have your own inspired recipe!

Good things!

Andrew "Gus" Addkison
@aaddkison on Twitter
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Friday, June 15, 2018

L'Internationale Homebrew Recipe

Here it is!  What you've all been waiting for.  The recipe for the international collaboration that was designed by the Saison, Bière de Garde, and Farmhouse Appreciation Society.  The group helped pick the recipe it and some fantastic pro brewers are brewing it.  In my opinion, it's exactly what Saison should be.  Simple yet beautiful.

We had a group of homebrewers all brew the recipe and see how it did across many different systems and all throughout the US and Canada.  We're swapping some bottles and doing some tastings to make sure the pro recipe translated well to homebrew level.  Form the bottles of mine I've opened I'll say I'm pretty happy with it.

One thing that makes this recipe unique is that it ties in both old world and new world.  We use lots of low alpha hops to bring in the bitterness (and I mean it's a ton of hops at 1.2-2.4 AA).  Then we finish the beer with some really nice new world hops.  The low AA hops bring a lot of traditional character to the beer and the new world hops bring in some fruity and wine like characters.

Pro Breweries who are brewing the official group beer:

Block Three Brewing - St. Jacobs, Ontario, CAN - IG
Pit Carabou - Quebec, CAN
Deep Dark Wood Brewing - Whitehorse Yukon Territory, CAN - IG
American Solera - Tulsa, OK, USA - IG
Strange Brewin - Buenos Aires, Argentina - IG
Cloudwater Brewing - Manchester, UK - IG
Braueri Kemker -  Alverskirchen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany - IG
Ale Farm Brewing - Greve, Roskilde Denmark - IG
Wildflower Beer - Australia - IG
Brasserie Thiriez - Esquelbecq, France

As you can see there are breweries from all over the world brewing this recipe.  It's really cool to see those names brewing something we as a group voted on!

Recipe below.  Feel free to try it out.  Add in some mixed cultures, try different yeasts.  Try it with the Bière de Coupage technique.  Come share your brew day and tasting notes with us in the group.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask me or any other of the fantastic pro and homebrewers within the group.


Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Boil Time: 60 min (90 if you prefer with Pilsner)
Efficiency: 75 %

70% Pilsner
18% Malted Pale Wheat
12% Malted Rye

18 IBUs Strisslespalt @ 60 min
6  IBUs Strisslespalt @ 10 min
6  IBUs Motueka @ 5 min
5  IBUs Hallertau Blanc @ 5 min

Mash in to reach 147F and hold for 60 min.  Target preboil gravity of 1.031.  I used Gypsum, Calcium Chloride and 88% Lactic Acid to get my mash pH to 5.28.  I typically shoot for 5.2-5.3.

Boil for 60-90 min adding hops as scheduled.  Target SG of 1.042.

There were so many hops I had to add in another hop spider in there during brewing.  I had a time cleaning them all up!

Pitch favorite Saison yeast/blend. (For the test we used Safale BE-134).  The Pros all did mixed fermentation with their house cultures or blends as far as I know.

Even though I whilrpool and use hop spiders still lots
of hop matter got into the fermentor.

Dry hop at the end of primary fermentation with 2oz each of Hallertaur Blanc and Motueka.

Package with Bob Sylvester's (of St. Somewhere Brewing Company) method below.

Bob said for 7 bbl of beer he uses 12# of cane sugar and 250g dry Champagne yeast.
He puts both of these in 3.5 gallons of 108F water and allows the yeast to bloom for
20 minutes or so.  Using his numbers, I came up with the below:

Per gallon:
0.885oz of sugar (by weight)
1.15g of yeast
2.00oz of water (by volume)

Bob mentioned to me that the volume of the yeast is less important than the amount of sugar.
You could overshoot the amount of yeast without any ill effects.  He also recommended using
Red Star yeast as that was his favorite.  It has become hard to find for him so he has been
using Maurivin PDM and Fermentis Safoeno VR 44.  I'll be using this formula for whatever the
volume is of the beer after I've blended.  My LHBS has the Red Star Premier Cuveé so I'll be
using that.  I'm doing all of this to help with the head production and retention.  Since
every one of his beers I've had all have an amazing pillow-y head that seems to stick around
forever, I figured I'd give this a try.  It may also shorten the carbonation period as some
of my blends can take up to a month to get where I like them.  He stated that the carbonation
happens the same day of bottling if done correctly.  He also says to wait 10 days and that's
it.  That with time, the initial "rough" carbonation you get in the first couple days will
mellow out into the fluffy stuff.  That's exactly what I'm looking for.

Disclaimer:  If anyone plans to do this, make SURE you are using the correct bottles.  The
champagne bottles I typically use are rated for up to 5 vol of CO2.  If you don't have some
of the thick glass bottles rated for the higher carbonation levels, you WILL get bottle bombs.
It can be dangerous using anything not rated for the higher level of carbonation.  The caps
(or corks if you use them) seals are usually much stronger than the glass so when you go to
open them, you could have a bottle shatter.  So proceed with caution and use the right equipment.

Update:  It seems we had the numbers wrong on the math for the priming technique.  We've since updated them.  Thanks to Derek for pointing it out!

List of homebrewers who tested the recipe:
(click their names for their Instagram/Facebook pages)

Andrew Kazanovicz
Andrew Palumbo
Chris Baumann
Christopher Anderson
Chuck Collins
Dave Henry
Guillaume Chevrette
Jeff Shouse
Jonathan Belk
Josh Nacy
Kris Rolleston and Oddities Artisan Ales
Logan Henderson
Pierre-Antoine Chausseé-Castonguay
Sarah Henry
Sig Copple
Stephen Goodal
Tim Hawley
Tyler Padden
Xander Duke
Vincent Lefebvre

Now on to some tasting notes of the beer.  I've had it a few times and it's gone through a few stages after being in the bottle a few weeks.  When it was young, there was a good bit of banana from the yeast there.  One friend even said it came off like a hoppy hefeweizen.  Thankfully that has faded now.  Let's get into things.

ABV: 5.78%
SG:  1.046 or 11.43°P
FG:  1.002 or 0.51°P
Apparent Attenuation:  96%

Appearance:  Hazy pale straw color.  Almost like a NEIPA.  After some time the bottles are starting to clear a bit but I doubt this one will ever be crystal clear.  Stark white head with tons of small bubbles.  It's packed tight for sure.  Really nice lacing and the head keeps a cap as long as your drinking the glass.

Aroma:  Spicy, fruity, bit of pepper, touch of lemon and lime, other generic citrus, and a bit of hay and Pilsner grain-y aroma.  This thing really is loaded on the nose.  I do get a touch of banana and maybe clove but it's very light.  There is a wine quality like green skin fruits that I get in there too.  You can definitely tell the Motueka and Blanc hops are there.  Using so many low AA hops you pick up a bit of green vegetal aroma but that's to be expected.  The beer is still very young. 

Rocky fluffy head.  I let this beer sit for about 10 minutes and there was still
a nice head and lacing all on the glass.

Taste:  Really close to the nose.  First sip brings a blast of lime and other citrus like grapefruit and a bit of lemon.  A hint of herbal quality like lemon grass or something similar.  Then it finishes with some spicy notes from all the Strisselspalt and yeast character.  There is a very light banana note from the yeast but it is not as prevalent as before.  This one is pretty much all hops and light yeast character when it's young. It's very refreshing.  The mouthfeel is medium almost medium full.  I did use right at a 1:1 ration for my sulfate to chloride ratio.  I may go back up to 2:1 for the next brew to give it a bit more crispness.

Overall:  I think this is a solid recipe.  I will admit I don't love this yeast.  But now I know moving forward.  I have another 3 gallons to bottle that I fermented with Wallonian 3 from The Yeast Bay.  I'll report back here or on Instagram with my notes from that one.  

I really think using lots of low AA hops for bittering adds a different character than using lower amounts of high AA varieties.  I've done this a few times in my brewing and I think I'll continue doing that in Saisons.  Even using something higher like 5% AA I enjoy more than anything 10% or more.  I think it adds a roundness to the beer.  You may not get a lot of flavor but there are a lot of other compounds in there that add to the beer.  What it is, I'm not entirely sure.  But I like it.

I don't think I'd change anything else at all.  I think this is a perfect base for a Saison to use a few brettanomyces strains and even do some blending with an acid beer.  So take the recipe, brew it, play with it, let us know how you like it!  I can't wait to try some of the commercial examples.  I'm really glad American Solera participated as I'm a member of their American Solera Society.  I'll definitely be picking up multiple bottles of that one!

**Oh and Bob, if you are reading this, only three bottles weren't green.  Those were for carbonation testing.  The rest of mine are nicely tucked away in C&C green bottles!  #greenbottle


Drinking on 3/21/19 the beer has held up wonderfully.  Notes of greenery, spice, melon and a touch of citrus in the nose.  Hay, pear, melon, pepper and very light Juicy Fruit character on the palate.  It finishes bone dry and the high carbonation gives a refreshing effervescence to it.  I love the appearance and how the haze still remains.  I'm sure it will take a very long time for this one to drop clear. 

Good things!

Andrew "Gus" Addkison
@aaddkison on Twitter
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