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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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tasting Notes of Kathleen Round 2!

I'm finally getting around to posting the tasting notes of the latest batch of Kathleen.  I've been very excited with how this beer turned out.  The brewing notes and recipe can be found here.  I bottled a portion of this beer clean just how it fermented out.  I also blended four gallons of it with a mature eighteen month old "lambic style" pale sour.

Fresh Unblended portion:

ABV: 6.1%
SG:  1.048 or 11.91°P
FG:  1.002 or 0.51°P
Apparent Attenuation:  96%
Actual Attenuation:  78%

Appearance:  Straw yellow and slightly hazy.  Solid white head full of very small bubbles.  Pretty good head retention as I drank through the glass.  Average lacing as well.

Aroma:  Light hay, a bit of grain, hint of green grass and a touch of citrus.  Slight herbal, or medicinal aroma but nothing overpowering but just there at a lower level.

Flavor:  Pilsner grain, soft lemony tartness,  green grass, and a touch of pear.  The pear is like really unripened pear or other green fruits. 

Mouthfeel:  Medium to medium full mouthfeel.  Good carbonation that cleans the palate. Really dry with a sort of slickness to it.  Reminds me of 3711 in a way.  

Overall:  Very drinkable beer with a lot of great notes.  I would like a little more hop presence but overall, I really enjoy this beer.  I think with 3726 or 565 it will really shine.  ECY-08 is a great yeast but I think I prefer the flavor profiles of the others more.  The yeast blend really reminds me of 3711.  It is very good but the fact that it is hard to get regularly and that I prefer my other strains means I probably won't spring for it again.  I am glad I was able to finally get a vial to try out.  I have ECY-14 that I will look forward to using as well.  I'll keep the 08 around for some other potential projects.

Bière de Coupage portion:

The blended portion came in just under 6% around 5.88% ABV.  It consisted of 4 gallons of fresh Saison and 1 gallon of mature sour blonde.  The sour blonde was 16 months old and had a grist of 60/40 Pilsner and white wheat.  Fermented with Wyeast Lambic blend and a plethora of bottle dregs from that brew day.

I thought the light was better when I took these pics.  Apparently I was wrong.

Appearance:  Light golden in color with a pure white head that starts strong and fades to a cap as you drink.  Surprisingly clearer than the unblended portion.  Decent lacing but both head retention and lacing could be better.

Aroma:  Green grass, hint of tropical fruit like pineapple, dry hay, touch of pepper, and a light lemony tartness.

Flavor:  Earthy and a bit of pepper spice are the first noticeable things.  Then a bit of citrus flavor and slight tartness again like a lemony flavor.  Pear and more tropical fruit notes than in the nose or the unblended portion.  Pineapple and maybe a bit of other tropical fruits.  Very slight hint of funk but more earthy than anything.

Mouthfeel:  Medium mouthfeel.  Slightly less full than the unblended portion.  The slickness is not as apparent though.  Carbonation is nice and lively.

Overall:  I'm very happy with how this blend turned out.  I think the base beer is great alone but the blending of the mature beer adds a brightness to it with the hint of acidity and also added in an earthiness that wasn't as prevalent in the unblended part.  Fruity tones seem to be amplified as well.  I'm curious as to how this will age so I'll keep a few bottles back and see where it is down the road.

The base recipe for Kathleen has gone through many changes.  Before I even gave it a name, I had brewed this beer with varying portions of specialty grains and even different base grains.  I know now that I want to always stick with Pilsner for the base grain.  The notes here confirm that I am happy with that for a base.  The pale ale base malt left way too much residual sugars and sweet flavors even when the beer was very dry and well attenuated.  I'm also fairly happy with the specialty grains as well.  Using either rye or spelt around 10% mark adds very nice mouthfeel when paired with the flaked oats.  The torrified or raw wheat also adds body and a decent amount of head retention.  The specialty grains allow the beer to not feel overly thin or watery since apparent attenuation usually reaches high 90s.

A few changes I would like to make to the base is to increase the bitterness and hop presence.  Both the unblended and the blended portions lacked a bitterness I would like to have.  The hop aromas are there but could stand to be a little more apparent.  I have altered the hop bill to reflect this and will be brewing it again with these changes.

A bit on Bière de Coupage:

The blending or "cutting" of fresh, hoppy beer with a portion of mature aged beer is a process called Bière de Coupage.  There are a few breweries that practice this technique.  It adds a layer of complexity and the blend can often bring out qualities of each beer you didn't notice before.  It will also alter the evolution of the beer in the bottle.  You can start out with a fresh, hoppy, bitter beer that has a hint of tartness in the background.  Over time the beer will go through stages of change.  The hop presence will fade, bitterness will soften, sourness can increase, and a character of funk from brettanomyces (if it's used in the blend) will begin to come forward.  It is a very fun process to watch the beer go through.

After Garrett Crowell and Adrienne Ballou were on the Sour Hour, I shot an email over to them as I was not able to ask my question about their Bière de Coupage process while the show was on air.  Garrett was very helpful and gave me a look into their process.  You can find what Garrett said on the Jester King page in the Milk the Funk wiki.  Very interesting stuff!

Amos Browne of Browne and Bitter has also done an article on blending beer and highlights a bit of Bière de Coupage in his posts here.  Amos, Michael Thorpe of Spontaneous Funk, and Ed Coffey of Ales of the Riverwards all have some great posts and information on blending beers.  Some of them are fresh beer blended with mature beer and others are on blending different ages of sour beers together clean as well as with different fruits.  Check them out!


Andrew "Gus" Addkison
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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Farmer In the Rye Brew Day!

I've been a long time reader of Ed Coffey's blog, Ales of the Riverwards.  We often talk on FB of brewing as well as other topics like bread making and even the Tottenham Hotspurs.  One of the posts he made back in 2014 was about his Saison, Farmer In the Rye.  I loved the name and I also loved the look of the recipe.  You can check out his posts on the brew here and here.  The first of those advanced to the second round of NHC in 2013.  Amos Browne from Browne and Bitter also won gold in two local Chicago competitions with the recipe.  His notes can be found here.  So it definitely seems like it would be a great recipe!  I've decided to try my hand at it.  I'll more than likely brew it a couple times close to each other so that I can have a batch clean and use a batch to Coupage with my older mature beer.

Although the recipe is listed on Ed's blog, I'll give a run down of what I'm brewing here.

Recipe:  Farmer In the Rye
Brewer:  Gus - Coffey Recipe
Batch:  8
Date:  2/7/16

Batch Size:  6.00 gal
Boil Size:  9.25 gal
Post Boil Volume:  6.63 gal
Estimated OG:  1.052
Estimated Color:  3.4 SRM
Estimated IBU:  30.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency:  70.00%
Est Mash Efficiency:  74.8 %
Boil Time:  75 Minutes

75.5%  Pilsen Malt 2-Row (Briess)
15.5%  Rye Malt (Briess)
3.8%  Dark Munich (BestMalz)
5.7%  Table Sugar  -  Added in last 5 minutes of boil

19.7 IBUs of Magnum (or whatever I have on hand now) @ 75 min
7.3 IBUs of EKG @ 30 min
1.9 IBUs of Saaz @ 5 min
1.9 IBUs of EKG @ 5 min

Wyeast 3726 Farmhouse Ale

(I'm going to start posting recipes like this so that that will be easier to scale to whatever size that anyone would like to brew them.  Showing the percentages will make it easier than whatever amount I use.)

I'm using his recipe that Ed fermented with The Yeast Bay's Wallonian Farmhouse strain and using my favorite strain, Wyeast 3726 Farmhouse Ale.  I don't have a fresh vial of Wallonian handy but I always have 3726 around.  I may order some Wallonian to try again in some other projects.

Here is the description of 3726 from Wyeast:

3726-PC Farmhouse Ale 
Beer Styles: Saison, Biere de Garde, Belgian Blonde Ale, Belgian Pale Ale, Belgian Golden Strong Ale
Profile: This strain produces complex esters balanced with earthy/spicy notes. Slightly tart and dry with a peppery finish. A perfect strain for farmhouse ales and saisons.
Alcohol Tolerance 12% ABV
Flocculation   medium
Attenuation    74-79%
Temp. Range 70-84°F (21-29°C)

I loved Ed's recipe because it really goes along the lines of what I like in a Saison recipe, simplicity.  There is the Rye character malt and a bit of Munich but it really is left simple and there for the yeast to shine and the hops to balance it all out.

Went a little finer with the mill and my efficiency was much better!

I mashed in and hit 148F right on the money.  You'll notice in Ed's post he has 90 minutes listed as the mash time.  After talking with him, he did say that he mashes for 60 minutes.  I ended up somewhere around 75 minutes and a pre-boil gravity of 1.038.  The longer mash probably wouldn't do much but the main reason I went longer was that I had this happen.....

This actually started a bit earlier in the day.  But the water department took a
a couple hours to get there.  What started as a trickle became a river in my
side yard.  

The day before brewing the water company had been out there because one of my neighbors noticed a small leak.  Well throughout the brew day, it became the rushing river you see above.  I knew that the water would be shut off so I tried to get through the brew day as fast as possible.  I collected the wort in the kettle and set off on the boil.

got to love stainless shots!

Hop additions at the ready!

But, of course, the water was shut off just as I finished up the 75 min boil.  With no water to run through my plate chiller, I had no way of cooling the beer.  I recirculated for 20-30 minutes to get the wort as cool as I could and then pumped it into the FastFerment.

I've never done "no chill" brewing but when you don't have another option, experimentation can be used.  I made sure my fermenter was very sanitized and I sealed the lid as soon as I had it filled.  The next morning the temperature was around 78F.  I then pitched the starter of 3726 I had decanted over night.  Hopefully, my process was very sanitary and the healthy pitch of yeast should get to work quickly on the wort.  You can read further on no chill brewing here and here.  It's definitely a successful option for those who can't chill their beer or if you have a problem like I did on this brew day.

My starting gravity was a little lower than the target at 1.050.  I believe I was a little short as I had more left in the kettle after the boil than my target post boil volume.  I'm still dialing in my system so I'll get the kinks worked out.  I have been adjusting the boil intensity lately and I may not have boiled as rigorous as I should have.  I'm not overly concerned as I'll still have more beer to drink!

Sometimes uncontrollable events take place that will throw a wrench in your process.  You just have to trudge through it.  Dumping the batch wasn't what I wanted to do.   I thought about leaving it open overnight to experiment with some spontaneous microbes but the temperature was a little too high (mid to high 50s) and I didn't want to chance that.

Aside from the water line bursting, it was a very easy brew day.  I really like this recipe and hopefully my brew will turn out well.  I already have plans to brew this again.  Maybe I'll give the Wallonian strain a shot at it or go with some 565 to see if there is any variance.  I'll have updates posted below and tasting notes here when I get to them!


2-8-16:  By 5:30PM full krausen was formed and it was bubbling away around 68F.  I moved my small ceramic heater to get ready to increase the temperature to 75-78F where I like 3726 to move to when fermentation is well under way.

I kept the lid cracked for first couple days.  Psuedo-open fermentation.

2-9-16:  Turned on the heater as it was sitting at 72F that morning.  By 5PM the temp was sitting at 76F.

2-10-16:  Temp sitting at 78-80F and fermenting very strong.  Smells amazing!

2-11-16:  Temp sitting at 82F and the action is slowing a bit.  By Friday or Saturday of this week I'm sure fermentation will be completed.

2-20-16:  No visible activity.  Yeast has all but fallen out of suspension.  Will take gravity sample and determine if ready for bottles.

Tasting notes can be found here!


Andrew "Gus" Addkison
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