Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

Posts tagged “Saison

SaiSon of a bitch (SOB) 2.1

I recently whipped up another batch of S.O.B., as my neighborhood drank most of the first at our National Night Out block party in August. There were only minor changes made from the first batch. More table sugar to further promote a dry finish and some alcohol heft, an ounce more caramunich and some year-old homegrown Cascade hops as part of the bittering addition (as opposed to the year-old homegrown Hallertau hops I used at this step in the first version).

Man, I love WLP566 Belgian Saison II. The attenuation level is quite high and it begins working very soon (two hours?) after pitch. I left this one in primary for 12 days but almost all of the fermentation activity was done within seven. Enjoyed the first pint 19 days after brew day, which was a bit longer than the fist batch (16 days) but that was intentional, as I had more time to leave this one in primary to ensure it fermented as dry as possible.

This might be my most favorite beer I’ve made. I love the style, love the yeast, love how it turned out (twice in a row!). Yes, Saison is my favorite summer beer by far. Here’s the recipe: (more…)


The neighborhood drank all my saison

I lugged a keg of saison and CO2 out into the street for my neighborhood’s annual National Night Out gathering on 8/7/12. The keg was full, save for maybe two beers I’d pulled off a few days before. Based on years prior, I didn’t expect my neighbors to be big drinkers. I was thinking they’d go through two or maybe three gallons. Once a few people really got to drinking it, the word spread and pretty soon most everyone was giving my saison a try. I was glad, as I think it’s one of the better beers I’ve done. Fermented fully and at a lower temperature so the yeast esters were present but not crazy out of control. Very important, given that this beer had been brewed just 16 days prior.

I’d never seen my neighbors this “social” before! When I grabbed the keg at the end of the night, I was very surprised as to how light it felt… The pic I’ve included here is from a few nights later when I used my Blichman Beer Gun to bottle the rest of the keg. How many bottles were left, you ask? FOUR. Jesus freakin’ H. Christ. The neighborhood downed about 4.5 gallons in about three hours. “Baxter, I’m not mad. I’m impressed!” 

I’ve gotta make more of this stuff. (more…)

Dry humor…

Have you ever had a saison that was too dry? I just took a refract reading while transferring my SOB 2.0 to secondary after 9 days at 72 ramped up to 78 degrees. Mash target was 147 but ended up being between 143-146. 1 lb table sugar in a 12.5 lb grain bill batch…

The refractometer wouldn’t register! At all! There isnt a reading to correct off of (if I assume it’s straight zero and a 1.055 OG, that puts me at 0.97 after correcting for alcohol and temp, and roughly 7.3% ABV). It’s basically telling me there is no sugar left. It all fermented. Upon tasting, I’d agree. I was hoping it’d end at like 1.005 or something, was aggressive in trying to ensure the batch would be dry because I’d read that too much body in saisons is the most common flaw. I succeeded, and then some. It’s spicy and almost evaporates off the tongue… (more…)

SaiSon of a bitch (SOB) 2.0

It’s been a HOT and busy summer in Minnesota. Par for the course, I guess. I’ve either playing shows with the band or hanging with my wife and daughter. I haven’t brewed since I did a double brew day back on 5/12 (wheat and oktoberfest). It was about time to find a day again to get something new going. I decided to do a saison on 7/22. This is the second saison I’ve ever made and will be named after the first, SaiSon of a bitch. I love this style. My favorite summer beer by far. The hot weather is well attuned to fermenting this style of beer as well, which definitely went into consideration when selecting this style.

The brew day went reasonably well. The biggest mistake I made was leaving the kitchen while I was filling a bucket with sanitizer and water. I have these clamps that hook onto the sprayer and let me multi-task. I went outside to do who knows what and forgot I was filling the bucket. When I came back in there was a quarter inch of water all over my kitchen floor. I ran for the sink and slipped on the water, banging my knee hard against the cabinet. This all happened with about 20 min. left in the 90 min. boil. It took me an extra 15 min. to clean up my kitchen as fast as I could, turning a 90 min. boil into a 105, which is what you’ll see noted in the boil schedule below. What were supposed to be 60 min. additions turned into 75. (more…)

Whaa choo talkin’ bout saiSon?

Ever since my SaiSon of a Bitch (SOB) batch failed to score well (got a 29/50) at NHC first rounds, I’ve been coming back to that beer trying to find/taste exactly what I got dinged for. Here’s basically the collective feedback from the two judges who tried my SOB:

  • Aroma: pepper notes properly placed followed by phenols that seem out of place
  • Appearance: haze, head retention and color all came across well
  • Flavor: a bit too tart, too much apparent hop bitterness and “earthiness” (likely from the hops)
  • Mouthfeel: slight astringency, “pithy” notes, alcohol apparent
  • Summary: not bad to drink, lacks full attenuation which may be fixed by raising fermentation temp.

I know now that saison yeast really do like higher temps than what my house could offer this batch in mid-February (more…)

A couple o’ Belgians

I had plenty of time to screw around with brewing stuff this past weekend, as it was “girls weekend” and the wife was up north at a cabin with her girlfriends. After getting home from a happy hour Friday, I apparently hadn’t drank enough (the only tolerable option at LaFonda in Eagan is Summit EPA) because I was able to muster some motivation to transfer the “In the Name of doG” batch from primary – where it had been for the past 11 days – to secondary. While doing so, I took a gravity reading on it for the first time since brew day. 1.008. Wow, I knew I’d had a vigorous and successful fermentation with this batch, but it was very cool to see this 1.074 brew attenuate down to 1.008 in just 11 days.

SOB (left) and In the Name of doG (right) on 3/4/11

Upon tasting the gravity reading sample, it reminded me a lot of Delirium Tremens and Lucifer, the two Belgian beer’s I’ve tasted in this style. Very happy about where this batch is headed. After running the pre- and post-fermentation gravity readings through the ABV formula, I came out with 9.1% ABV. Awesome! This will be the strongest brew I’ve done so far, especially because it has since continued with a slight fermentation even after going to into secondary while at 59* down in my basement at that. I wonder how far down it’ll go…

I harvested the yeast off the trub in primary, (didn’t get greedy and take too much this time) and have 300 ml. or so of it chilling in a beaker in my beer fridge. I’ve heard it’s potentially not good to harvest yeast from a anything with a gravity that starts above 1.070 (according to discussion at the SPHBC meeting I attended this past week) as the yeast may have been too stressed in fermentation to be usable in a second batch. We’ll see. What I have appears viable. I think I”ll take the chance and use it in a few weeks, as I’m currently considering my next batch to be a “Belgian brown ale.” Any recommended recipes out there? Please comment below if so. (more…)

Attempting to harvest yeast…

I got inspired by the Nordeast homebrew club guys after my last brew session and decided to try and harvest my own yeast. Normally I just wash the yeast cake down the drain after I transfer the batch, but I figured I’d try to save myself a few bucks and see if I could maintain the same yeast strain for a few batches. This attempt to harvest the Belgian Wit yeast used for the SaiSon of a Bitch batch fit especially well with my brewing plans, as I am going to brew multiple saison batches this year.

SOB in the foreground about to be transferred, In the Name of doG fermenting away in the background.

After doing all my sanitation due diligence, I got a majority of the yeast cake from primary into a beaker, sealed it up and stuck it in the fridge to pull the yeast out of suspension. Later that evening, I was reading online and people were saying it’s better to harvest the cake after secondary, not primary as there is more trub and non-yeast particles in the primary cake. After everything settled a few hours later, I went down to the basement fridge to check out the sample for darker brown undesirable flecks. I was greeted by a fermenting sample that had blown the top off the beaker. Whoops! Live and learn. Yeast is too active still to be harvested from the primary fermenter. Noted.

I still plan to try and grab some of the saison yeast off the secondary when I bottle that batch this coming weekend. We’ll see if it explodes again… Anyone have any tips on harvesting yeast? Am I doing this completely wrong? Please let me know.


Explosive fermentation on the SOB batch

I woke up to go to the bathroom at about 5:30am the morning after the SaiSon of a Bitch brew day. Naturally, I went into the office just to check and see if fermentation had started yet. BAM!

Well, not exactly “bam” but maybe earlier in the night some sort of audible sound had occurred when the airlock popped off the carboy. Son of a bitch! Now you know exactly how this batch helped earn it’s name.

Check out the pics below showing the SOB before fermentation began, what I awoke to find and what it looked like after I spent the early hours of Sunday morning cleaning up little drops of crusty beer from all over the office, including the ceiling. I’ve learned my lesson: always attach blow-off tubing for the first 24 hrs. after pitch.

Mutt on the left, SOB on the right -- pre-fermentation


SaiSon of a Bitch

Recent tastings of Harriet Brewing’s first Belgian IPA batch and Lift Bridge’s Farm Girl Saison (also a Belgo-French style) inspired me to follow suit on brew day Saturday and go Belgian as well. Here’s the Saison recipe  I went with as well a few pictures:

Base: 6 lbs domestic pilsner, 5 lbs white wheat malt
Specialty: 8 oz cara-20, 8 oz unmalted wheat
Hops: 1 oz Saaz (60″), 2 oz domestic Goldings (30″ and 2″)
Extras: 1 lb clear candi sugar (60″), 1/4 tsp grains of paradise mixed with 1/2 oz whole coriander (15″), 1 oz bitter orange peel (15″)
Yeast = White Labs Belgian Wit Ale Yeast WLP400
Target OG = 1.055-1.058
My pre-boil OG = 1.050 (12.5 Brix)
My post-boil OG = 1.048 (12 Brix) after adding 1.5 gal. of spring water to bring the wort volume up