July 8, 2013

Wildfire Mesquite Smoked Saison Recipe

The first time I heard of a smoked saison I thought the idea sounded terrible even though I generally enjoy smoked beers. I tried one anyway (Ranger Creek Small Batch #2) and got hooked. I find a gentle smoky character plays well with the flavor of saison yeast, especially when the smoke flavor is less bacon-y than the typical rauchmalt made with beechwood. The Ranger Creek Small Batch #2 is made with grain smoked over four different fruit woods and the fruit comes through from the wood. I decided I wanted to try to create a similar effect in a saison. I've previously written about smoking grains at home and decided I could open my own saison up to something more unique than beechwood. I selected mesquite wood in part because I had it on hand and in part because mesquite grows like crazy locally and I liked the idea of adding a local flair to the saison. Rather than smoke the base malt I thought it would be more interesting to put the smoke into some munich malt. A local-ish brewery makes a smoked alt with smoked munich that is quite tasty so I picked the munich malt as the carrier for the smokiness for this saison.

For this recipe I wanted to put together a subtle but present fruity smoke character with a grainy-tasting grain bill. For that reason I kept the grain bill pilsner-based with some white wheat malt and vienna to create some complexity. A warm 3711 ferment will drive some more fruit and spice into the recipe. It is rounded out with firm bitterness and some EKG for a gentle floral and grassy flavor. The combination reminds me of the flavors and aromas of a backyard BBQ. I called this beer "Wildfire" because it's summer and we get a lot of very smoky wildfires. Not my best name but it's functional.

This saison will be my first attempt to play with 3711 and my first attempt to drive a really warm fermentation. Last summer I played with a bottle culture from Dupont and shoved the fermentor out in the garage to get hot but I didn't feel like the combination was as great as the flavors from a hot 3711 fermentation. For this beer I am using my Johnson controller set to keep warm temperatures (requiring moving a jumper) and a fermwrap-like device. My plan is to pitch in the mid-60s and let it free rise for about twelve hours before turning on the heat and getting it as close to 90F as I can. The device I have is designed to increase temperatures by about ten degrees so with the upstairs part of my house kept between 75-80 I should get fairly close.

Wildfire Mesquite Smoked Saison

Basic Details

Batch size: 1 gallon
ABV: 5%
IBU: 34.5
SRM: 4.7
Est. OG: 1.045
Est. FG: 1.007
Est. Efficiency: 74%

Grain Bill

1 lb. Belgian Pilsner (2 SRM)
4 oz. Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)
4 oz. White Wheat Malt (2 SRM)
3.4 oz. Smoked Munich Malt (9 SRM)

Mash/Sparge

75 minute mash at 150F - infuse 3.42 quarts at 160F
Sparge with 0.58 gallons of 175F sparge water

Brewing water

100% distilled water for mash and sparge with brewing salt additions
Used Bru'n Water Yellow Bitter profile

Mash additions

Gypsum 0.3g
Epsom salt 0.3g
Calcium chloride 0.3g

Sparge additions

Gypsum 0.2g
Epsom salt 0.2g
Calcium chloride 0.2g
Lactic acid 0.3ml

Boil/Boil Additions

Boil time: 75 minutes
0.10 oz. Belma [12.1%] at 60 minutes
0.05 oz. EKG [5%] at 20 minutes
0.10 oz. EKG [5%] at 10 minutes
0.10 oz. EKG [5%] at flameout

Fermentation

Pitch 400ml starter of 3711 at 65F and let free rise over twelve hours
Raise to 90F for five days
Sit at ambient for nine days
Cold crash at 46F for two days
Bottle to 3.0 volumes

Brewday & Fermentation Notes:

1st runnings gravity: 1.0497
Pre-boil gravity: 1.0372
Pre-boil volume: 1.25 gallons
Efficiency 74% (finally!)
Post-boil gravity: 1.0464
Post-boil volume: 1 gallon
Measured efficiency: 73.8%

Finally got over my efficiency problems. Obviously an issue with the gap on my grain mill.

7/13/13: FG 1.0075, just a touch over what was estimated. Flavor is fruity and smoky as expected. The beer feels heavier on the tongue than expected but once the beer is carbonated I expect it will have a drier and lighter mouthfeel.Planning to let the beer rest at ambient until 7/19 and then give it a 48 hour crash and bottle on 7/21. Also looking at brewing a Funkwerks Tropic King clone that day with some of the slurry.

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