Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My first Bière de Garde

So I've brewed more Saisons than I can count.  I have a ton on record but there are some I just brewed and drank.  I've documented a ton of them and have those notes to make some future posts about but, this one is about something new for me.  Brewing a Bière de Garde.

There is tons and tons of information about Bière de Garde out there.  For me, a Bière de Garde should be malty but not overly sweet.  It should also be drinkable and have a hint of fruitiness and spice from the yeast.  Little to no hop bitterness and somewhat of a musty or farmhouse quality.  For homebrewers the musty or old quality tends to be the most difficult thing to acquire.  I plan on brewing a couple variations in my attempt to recreate this beer.

All that I've read says this should be fermented with an ale yeast at a low temp or with a lager yeast at the higher end of the lager spectrum.  It must then be lagered (or cold stored) for 6-8 weeks before packaging.  This is my first of many attempts.

Here was my recipe for the first attempt.  I'll be tweaking just a bit for a few reasons I'll explain below.

Recipe: Bière de Garde
Brewer: Gus
Asst Brewer: 
Style: Bière de Garde
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0) 

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 9.02 gal
Post Boil Volume: 6.76 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal   
Bottling Volume: 4.75 gal
Estimated OG: 1.071 SG  Actual: 1.065 SG
Estimated Color: 15.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 23.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %  Actual: 63.70%  TERRIBLE 
Est Mash Efficiency: 84.4 %
Boil Time: 120 Minutes

Amt           Name                                  Type       #     %/IBU
9 lbs 8.0 oz  Pale Ale (Dingemans) (3.3 SRM)        Grain      1     65.5%
2 lbs 8.0 oz  Munich 10L (Briess) (10.0 SRM)        Grain      2     17.2%
1 lbs         Aromatic Malt (Dingemans) (19.0 SRM)  Grain      3     6.9%
8.0 oz        Special B (Dingemans) (147.5 SRM)     Grain      4     3.4%
1 lbs         Brown Sugar, Dark (50.0 SRM)          Sugar      5     6.9%
1.00 oz       Challenger [7.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min   Hop        6     21.7 IBUs
1.0 pkg       French Ale (White Labs #WLP072)       Yeast      7     -

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 14 lbs 8.0 oz
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In           Add 20.07 qt of water at 157.3 F        148.0 F       75 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 6.33gal) of 168.0 F water

Created with BeerSmith 2 -

So my mash ended up having pretty terrible efficiency.  I think this is due to my rollers being knocked when moving my mill not long ago.  I'm usually much better with my efficiency.

This is also my first time using the French Ale (White Labs WLP072) yeast.  I made a 800mL starter with the yeast and pitched it into my usually volume of 5.5ish gallons.  NOT ENOUGH HEADSPACE for this yeast.  It blew up through my blow off tube and I had to change it twice.  Lesson learned.  I'll probably be reducing my batches to 5 gallons moving forward just to give the extra room.

Everything on brew day was smooth other than having a bad efficiency.  This is one of the longest boils I've done as well.  I boiled for 120 minutes but I'm not positive if I will do the same again.  I'm sure it created some caramelized sugar flavors but I'm not positive on how much.

This rocked in the fermenter for about 14 days with the temperature controller set to 64F before I checked the gravity.  I was expecting something around 1.010-1.012.  I was SHOCKED to see it had dropped to 1.004.  Super dry and way out of style according to the BJCP.  Good thing I don't really brew to style!  The flavors were great.  Little bit of malty sweetness still left, probably from the long boil.  Some fruitiness and a small hint of spice.  I will probably mash a little higher next time.  See if I can get a closer FG to what is intended.

I'm moving it to my cool box at 40F to lager for a couple weeks.  I plan to to drop it from 64F to 40F over the course of a few days just to be safe.  After that, it will go to packaging and then bottle condition for a few weeks.  Should be something great to drink when the fall comes around!

I'll post back with any updates!


7-4-15:  I transferred the carboy to my other freezer with the temperature controller set to 60F.

7-5-15:  I bumped the temp down to 50F.  Starting to think about bottling some of this with some Brettanomyces or at least having some secondary a little while longer on Brett.  Not sure what strain just yet.  I'll think about that in the next coming weeks.

7-10-15:  Temp moved down to 40F for the remainder of the lagering time.

8-21-15:  Kegged and carbing.

Tasting notes here.


Andrew "Gus" Addkison
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