Melting Point Imperial Saison - Brain Sparging on Brewing


Sour beer, saisons, farmhouse beer, homebrewing, ramblings

March 17, 2014

Melting Point Imperial Saison

I'm a huge saison fan but my favorite saisons are the very light, low ABV versions which offer all the thirst-quenching, summer-defeating attributes one needs in a hot Texas summer but packs enough flavor that it is still worth slowly exploring. I enjoy the bigger saisons that are easier to find on the craft market but few in that category compare to one of my favorite saisons, Dupont's Avec les Bon Voeux. Bon Voeux is Dupont's winter seasonal so unsurprisingly it is a beer with more heft than Dupont's other offerings. It is intensely complex. The Dupont yeast unleash themselves on this beer with a huge offering of fruit and spice. There's plenty of European hop in the mix and what seems to be a far more complex grain bill than the 100% pilsner Saison Vieille. It's also slightly tart, which helps make this 9.5% beer drink easily. It easily holds its own in terms of a complex beer against even the best imperial stouts.

Since I made it a point this year to brew more saison I couldn't help but add something in the Bon Voeux style to my brewing list for 2014. I didn't want to shoot for a clone.  Instead I wanted to look at Bon Voeux as an inspiration. During my research for this beer I used as a template a recipe from the Maltose Falcons which was itself inspired by but not cloning Bon Voeux. (The recipe has since disappeared from their website.) So perhaps my recipe is really twice removed from Bon Voeux.

This recipe has a lot going on but each piece plays a particular role. The grain bill features some specialty malts to add complexity into the maltiness from the munich. There's also plenty of hopping going on here. There's four hop varieties: one French; one noble; two American hops working together to blend the grassy and gentle character of continental hops with the fruity notes of American hops. Then the yeast, 3711, will drop its fruit and spice notes all over the beer. Complexity going everywhere. I also want to capture that tart edge that Bon Voeux enjoys that really awakens the flavors but I will do that by adjusting the water chemistry to a low ph. I toned down this recipe away from Bon Voeux's 9.5% ABV to make it slightly easier to drink through the summer.

FYI: There's nothing clever about this name. It gets stupid hot during the Texas summer so the name is a reference to how I feel most of the summer.

Melting Point Imperial Saison

Batch size: 3 gallons
Est. ABV: 7.9%
Est. OG: 1.068
Est. FG: 1.010
Est. Efficiency: 72%
IBU: 42.5
SRM: 5.9

The Grain Bill

5 lb. 8 oz. German Pilsner malt (2 SRM) 72%
1 lb. Wheat malt (2 SRM) 13.1%
12 oz. Munich malt (9 SRM) 9.8%
2 oz. Aromatic malt (26 SRM) 1.7%
2 oz. Biscuit malt (23 SRM) 1.7%
2 oz. Honey malt (25 SRM) 1.7%

The Mash

Single infusion mash for 75 minutes at 148F with 9.93 qt at 162F
RO water adjusted in Bru'n water to yellow bitter profile
Sparge with 3.39 gallons at 180F

Mash Water Profile

Calcium 53
Magnesium 10
Sodium 5
Sulfate 108
Chloride 45
Bicarbonate -44

1.1g gypsum
1g epsom salt
0.2g baking soda
0.9g calcium chloride
0.8ml lactic acid

Sparge Water

1.5g gypsum
1.4g epsom salt
1.2g calcium chloride
1.8ml lactic acid

The Boil

90 minute boil

0.50 oz. Belma [12.10% AAU] at 90 minutes 31.4 IBU
0.40 oz. Aramis [8% AAU] at 10 minutes 5.6 IBU
0.30 oz. Cascade [5.5% AAU] at 10 minutes 2.9 IBU
0.30 oz. Celeia [4.5% AAU] at 10 minutes 2.4 IBU
0.25 oz. Aramis [8% AAU] at flameout
0.20 oz. Cascade [5.5% AAU] at flameout
0.15 oz. Celeia [4.5% AAU] at flameout

The Fermentation

Pitch 64ml 3711 slurry at 70F and let free rise for 24 hours. The raise temperature to 85F for remainder of fermentation.

Dry hop schedule:

0.50 oz. Aramis
0.30 oz. Celeia
0.20 oz. Cascade

Dry hop for three days at room temperature.

Bottle to three volumes.

The Brewday & Fermentation Notes

Doughed in 3/16/14 at 10:30am

First runnings: 1.074 1.75 gallons
Pre-boil gravity: 1.043
Pre-boil volume: 5.35 gallons

Post-boil volume: 3.5 gallons
Post-boil OG: 1.058
Effiency: 71%

Pitched at 75F 3/16/14 at 8pm
Set temperature to rise to 85F on 3/17/14 at 8am
Kept temperature constant at 84-85F until 3/20/14 and let temperature come down to ambient

FG reading 3/26/14: 1.010 ~6.1% ABV. Will let the beer sit for another 7-10 days before dry hopping. Really good flavor. Nice mix of citrus fruit, grass and spice. Not quite as dry as Bon Voeux but some carbonation will help add to the dryness. 

4/2/14: Dry hopped with the above schedule. Plan on bottling after three days. Stable gravity at 1.010.

4/5/14: Bottled beer to 3.2 volumes CO2. Recovered 14 12oz. bottles and four 22oz. bottles. Racked one gallon into a secondary vessel with 0.30oz. medium oak cubes soaking in brandy with roughly 0.30oz. (by weight) of brandy from the oak cubes. Plan to start drinking in June and bottle the oaked version around early July.

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