Hoppy mixed fermentation saison experiment 1 recipe - Brain Sparging on Brewing


Sour beer, saisons, farmhouse beer, homebrewing, ramblings

November 26, 2018

Hoppy mixed fermentation saison experiment 1 recipe

Now that I'm situated in the new home it's time to start propagating those mixed fermentation cultures and resume brewing these long fermentation beers. I've brewed the first iteration of my barrel oud bruin in the new house so now it's my farmhouse/saison mixed culture's turn. I'm still learning this culture's quirky behavior so for this recipe I've opted for a simple recipe to explore how it interacts with hops. My last two beers with this saison culture were fairly weird beers and not a great opportunity to learn nuance of the culture. (This take on Funkwerks Tropic Bling and this really weird prickly pear beer.)

This recipe is more of an attempt to start work on a standard recipe for this culture. A simple grain bill and enough hops to keep some bitterness as it ages and give the culture lots of opportunity to play with the flavor components in the hops. Some of my favorite beers are brett IPAs like Stone Enjoy After and once hoppy brett saisons, so it only makes sense to give this culture an opportunity to produce the same type of beer. The hops I've selected for this recipe are leftover hops from the freezer. I'm less interested in the particular flavors elicited by these hops and more what the culture will do in the presence of a hefty amount of late addition hops. 
After this batch I'll probably take up a few more experiments, like mixing fresh and aged hops, before turning to perfecting a particular bill of hops.

The two issues I am most interested to see are: (1) how much this culture changes the flavor of the hops; and (2) how the culture's flavors integrate with the remaining hop flavors. This culture develops a unique flavor profile dominated by a hay and blueberry flavor. That brett hay note works really well with hops but I'm less certain how the blueberry flavor will mix with the hops. I could see it overwhelming the hop flavors over time or blending together into weirdness. 

Hoppy mixed fermentation saison experiment 1

Batch Size: 1 gallon
Est. ABV: 5.5%
Est. IBU: 38.3
Est. OG: 1.052
Est. FG: 1.010
Est. SRM: 3.6
Expected Efficiency: 72%
Grain BillPoundsOuncesSRMPct. Grist
Pils malt202100.00%
Water Profileppm
Bru'n Water Yellow Bitter
PH: 5.3
Water AdditionsMashSparge
Epsom Salt0.3g0.3g
Canning Salt
Baking Soda
Calcium Chloride0.2g0.2g
Pickling Lime
Lactic Acid0.4ml
Mash ScheduleStep Temp.Step Time
Single decoction mash
Mash volume: 3 qt
Sparge volume: 0.74 gal
Infuse 3 qt at 163F148F35
Decoct 0.6 qt and boil10
Return decoction 158F45
Sparge 0.75 gal180F
Boil ScheduleVolumeUnitTimeIBU
60 minute boil
Belma 0.17oz6038.3
Mt. Hood 0.50ozFlameout0
Rakau 0.36ozFlameout0
Fermentation Schedule# DaysTemp.
Yeast: Saison AF
Pitch 1l
Pitch at 64F3070
Age 9 months27070
Bottle to 3 volumes

Brewday and Fermentation Notes

Brewed 10.15.18.

Bottled 1.22.19 with 1.4 oz. table sugar. Sample at bottling smells hoppy with stonefruit, pine, citrus and hay. The beer is still very bitter with a lot of the hop flavors still intact. Surprisingly bitter for 38 IBUs in a 5.5% ABV beer. That's pale ale country although this is closer in bitterness to a west coast IPA. Some tannins rolling around on the tongue.

The mixed culture's typical hay/blueberry/barnyard character is starting to emerge but there is also a lot of it's young, less pleasant harsh barnyard flavor. This cultures awful sweet aftertaste is still present underneath the bitterness but I expect that all to age out. It mixes with the apricot flavor from Rakau hops in a really weird way. I plan to give these bottles at least six months to mature before tasting.

Hoppy Saison #1 Tasting Notes

Hoppy Saison best poured on a washing machine

Sampled 5.17.19

Appearance: Initially this beer pours out an incredible clear yellow color like an industrial light lager. It gains some cloudiness from yeast kicked up by the heavy carbonation in the bottle but as you can see from the picture it is not terribly murky or unreasonable for a saison. The head is snow white on this beer and builds up with the carbonation. The head is lasting but eventually calms to a more manageable volume leaving behind some nice lacing on the way down.

Aroma: This saison has all the expected character of this yeast culture. There is hay and blueberry with some lighter notes of strawberry, damp forest, barnyard funk and sandalwood. The hops are surprisingly still present in the aroma with a light grassiness and some peach that is unmistakably rakau hops. There is also a pleasant mineral type aroma which I cannot recall smelling in a beer before. Collectively the aroma of the beer reminds me a lot of opening a package of sweet tarts with the mixed fruit and that tart mineral smell. Really unusual but pleasant.

Flavor: The flavor on this beer is completely different from the aroma. It is blueberry and lemon up front with a big punch of bitterness like De Ranke XX. The flavor evolves fairly quickly with peach, hay, black pepper, damp forest, slight floralness and the weird sweet funky flavor this yeast carries when it is too young. The bitterness carries through the beer but creates a long lasting flavor that descends into barnyard funk and that forest-y flavor similar to mosaic hops. Long into the aftertaste it has a generic hoppiness which is fairly surprising for a beer seven months old.

Mouthfeel: This beer is aggressive with the bitterness and leaves a long tannin finish. It is not a sharp bitterness of a west coast DIPA but a firmly present bitterness. The carbonation is spritzy and also fairly aggressive. As the beer warms in the glass the carbonation and bitter feel mellow to a more manageable beer. The saison's body is overall appropriately thin but not watery despite what some might call overcarbonation.

Overall: In general this was a good first attempt at this beer. It definitely feels overcarbonated although by beer carbonation calculators this should be around 3.5 volumes plus whatever sugar brett scavenged from the beer after it went into the bottle. Perhaps the combination of bitterness plus carbonation is too aggressive. I need to play around with adjusting one and the other. I am not sure this hop combination is the best for this beer but it was a good experiment to see that the yeast culture plus bottling relatively early saved a good amount of fresh yeast flavor. In three or four months the weird sweet-funk flavor should drop off and turn this into a very good first attempt overall. 

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