Friday, September 29, 2017

So....the saison I brewed back in July has matured nicely. There's not much hop aroma, but the East Kent Goldings provide a nice bitterness and and a bit of hoppy flavor. I've contrasted it this evening with another saison I brewed about a year ago. This other saison is paler and I'll say much sunnier. It is definitely a summer saison. What I brewed earlier this summer is definitely an autumn saison -- it employed some caramel malts for an amber hue and a touch of maltiness, although it is certainly dry enough to be an authentic saison. Sorry about not posting the particulars. I'll add those eventually. Another difference between these two batches is that the summer saison (bottled last year) was made with a dry yeast (Belle Saison) and the more recent batch was brewed the Wyeast 3724. The Wyeast strain is notoriously fussy, stalling out and not reaching optimal terminal gravity if it is not warm enough. In this case, temperatures were in the high 70s into the 80s and I left the beer to its own devices for at least a month. (You can tell I'm not a very scientific brewer these days.)  Yet another notable feature of the dry yeast saison is that it is quite clear. Perhaps this is due to it sitting in bottles for almost a year, but I have to think that it has to do with the yeast itself. I have to think that it is designed to settle out, which other saison yeasts are loathe to do.

So I have a new batch steeping with a bunch of dry hops at the moment. The hops are from a friend, Eric Keeley, who grows them in his backyard. There are Chinooks. I have no idea what the AA content is for these hops so I add a little bit (an ounce or less) about 10 minutes to the end of the boil and I add a whole bunch (in this case about three to four ounces) at the end of the boil, left steeping for about a half hour before I start chilling the beer. The particular recipe is a favorite. It is a clone of Rogue Santa's Private Reserve (the version from about 10 years ago.) Thanks to the Internet Archive you can see the ingredients here. I used to go to a place called Edgewater Lounge in Chicago (on far north side) that always had Rogue beer. I've heard some bad things about the brewery in recent years (that the employees aren't treated well and it's run down) but I soft spot for Rogue. I started drinking Rogue beer a long time ago when I was first of age back in the early 1990s. The Edgewater always had a two or three Rogue ales on tap and usually one special one called "John's Locker Stock." This was always something not available anywhere else in the Chicago area. I always looked forward to it. They would almost always have St. Rogue Red and the Oatmeal Stout but I would ask for the Locker Stock. It would rotate throughout the year. Ah, those were the interesting inbetween days of the early '90s microbrew boom and the current state of affairs (which is off the charts) with some many breweries opening almost every other week.

I would like to brew some more but as I get older I find that I don't (read can't) drink as much beer.  I used to be what I would call a subsistence brewer (I drank most of the beer I brewed and didn't share.) I need to be more social I guess and share my beer if I'm going to brew more. Free beer!

Monday, July 03, 2017

The saison is bottled and sits for awhile. Gravity dropped from 1.049 to 1.006. Not bad. Saved the yeast to brew again. Color was darker than I expected but I guess that's okay as long as it's dry. Would like to brew a batch of beer I've called Japanese Sunshine. Japanese hops, rice, a touch of wheat and a bunch of pils malt fermented with a saison yeast. A friend recently sampled a bottle from long ago and was very pleased so I've decided that I should brew this beer again.

Friday, June 02, 2017

One may argue there's no point to posting as this blog has just been a series of fits and starts for the last couple years, but I've decided to brew again. It seems like the hardest part is just getting to the homebrew shop. Sure, I could mail order, but I have access to a pretty awesome local homebrew supplier and I'd rather shop local.

I plan to brew a simple all extract saison tomorrow. I have six pounds of amber malt extract, three ounces of Kent Goldings hops and pack of Wyeast 3724 which I pitched into a starter yesterday. I'll be fermenting around 75-77 degrees. It'd be nice if it was warmer but it's only June in northern Illinois. As long as temperatures stay steady I should be OK. If the notorious 3724 does get stuck, I'll probably pitch some Safbrew T-58 to finish things off.

I'm drinking a saison that I brewed last October and it is quite good. There is a rose water fruitiness a light bitterness and dry finish.  About all you can hope for in a traditional saison I suppose.

Friday, April 28, 2017

I've been very busy with life outside of brewing the past few months but I've been thinking about getting back to it. One of the brews I still have around is a bit disappointing. My Chinook bitter seems to have succumbed to an infection that has caused it to be over-carbed. It tastes okay, but it's a fizzy mess. The Chinook saison, on the other hand, shows no evidence of any Chinook hop flavor but is pretty tasty. There is an oddly floral aroma with a light caramel sweetness but that is countered by a dry rusticity. I typically brew a couple saisons once the weather starts getting warm and I think it might be time. The key to a good saison in my experience is time. All of saisons ways taste a little more complex after one year. In that way, brewing saison is kind of like brewing wine. I find this interesting as the Dupont strain of yeast is rumored to have come from a wine yeast.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

OK, so I've bottled both batches -- I did indeed brew a Chinook saison along with an English bitter. The bitter needs some age I think, it tasted a bit green the other night, but the saison -- which I bottled earlier today -- has some serious potential. It is very dry and has a pleasant peppery spiciness in the nose and in the flavor.  Oddly, I don't notice any telltale signs of Chinook hops. The English ale might end up a bit boring. I'm thinking both beer could have benefited from some dry hopping. Both beers have to site a few more weeks before any too serious judgement is made about them. I now have four cases of beer conditioning. I think I'll take another break from brewing until it gets to be winter and then maybe I'll brew an altbier.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The stove has been fixed for weeks, but I have not brewed a beer...until tonight. I toyed with the idea of brewing a saison, but I've been busy with work and other things and it didn't happen. A lot of fresh homegrown Chinook hops could be coming my way and still had an ample quantity from the previous year...so I brewed an English IPA this evening. Everything went pretty well. The fermentatbles included two cans of Munton's Maris Otter LME, a pound of Weyermann CaraRed malt, about six or seven ounces of torrefied wheat and five ounces of corn sugar. I used an ounce of Chinook pellets for bittering and a quarter pound of my friend Eric Keeley's homegrown Chinook hops were steeped at the end of the boil. They were last year's crop, dried and stored in the freezer. They still smelled great, not cheesy or anything. Lots of resin. I'm using American hops, but I'm calling the beer an English IPA because I used Maris Otter malt extract and I pitched Wyeast London Ale III which is a very temperature forgiving English ale yeast. The optimal fermentation range for this yeast is 64F-74F. As I type this the wort is currently about 85F. I'm hoping my Brewjacket immersion chiller will bring the temperature down to at least 74F before fermentation really starts rocking. It's really too warm to brew a "normal" ale right now. The outside temperature is in the 80s and my tap water I use for chilling is in the 70s. I suppose I should of stuck with my idea to brew a saison-type ale. Has anyone ever brewed a saison with Chinook hops? Nevermind, this guy has and it seems like it turned out pretty good. Damn.