Monday, September 26, 2011

Brewing "Bitter" Flowers

Brewed a simplified and most likely hoppier version of the Flowers saison today. For a quick weeknight brew, I cut out the specialty malts and substituted some amber extract. I also increased the bittering hops by an ounce and dropped out the Strisselspalt in favor of all Crystal. I also erred on my "water needed" calcuations and ended up with six gallons in my seven-gallon fermenter. Hopefully, this won't be a problem. I also changed the yeast up, using Wyeast 3711 instead of 3724, since it's cooling off quite a bit in the kitchen. The ambient temperature is now 75 degrees, but I expect it to get even cooler in the next few days. I've used the 3711 strain before at this temperature and was amazed at how attenuative it was for not fermenting very warm. We'll see what happens, eh? So I cracked open the first bottle of my Dash the Curry Pale Ale, as a tribute to the prior batch, and I was pleased with it. The name comes from an English expression and a M.I.A. song, but I picked the name because I added a dash of Garam Masala. This spice blend included peppercorns, mace, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, cardamom, cloves and coriander. I also added an additional amount of coriander with the Garam Masala. All the spices were added at 10-15 minutes left in the 60-minute boil. I threw caution to the wind and pitched an almost two-year-old packed of Safbrew T-58 yeast from Fermentis. So far (after only a couple weeks) the beer taste a little bit too much like a wheat beer with a bit too much banana and clove, but there's enough other stuff going on (no doubt from the spices and Styrian Golding hops) that it's okay.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Flower Pepper Saison Tasted

I finally have two batches in the bottle and I'm already burning through the first one, what I'm simply calling "Flowers." I chose the name because I used lots of late and dry additions of Crystal hops. I also used a seasoning from Trader Joe's called Flower Pepper late in the boil to add complexity and aroma. Flowers is a saison-style ale and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, especially for a beer made with about 85 percent malt extract and 15 percent grains. I used a mix of dry and liquid extract along with a pound of 40L crystal malt for color. Aside from the wonderfully flowery aroma and great flavor, what I'm most impressed about with this beer so far is how dry it turned out. I had to go back in my notes and double-check that I didn't add any sugar to increase the dryness. It's definitely one of my drier saisons and drier than the last I brewed back in June with Wyeast 3725 as opposed to the 3724 (Dupont strain.) The Wyeast 3724 truly worked its magic when fermented at around 83-85 degrees in my kitchen in late August. We had a couple 90 degree days which helped keep the temperature up and the yeast very happy. Best I can tell, the beer ended up reaching apparent attenuation of about 80 percent. What I'd like to do (what I may have to do because it's getting cooler out) is brew up another batch of this stuff, but with the Wyeast 3711 strain, one with which I've brewed a rather dry saison in the past. I'd definitely use the Flower Pepper again, too, as it seems to add a complex fruitiness. It drinks like a flowery Pils with a tart finish. A great beer for year round; maybe a new house beer.

Dash the Curry Pale Ale

I brewed a Belgian Pale Ale called "Dash the Curry." The name is derived from the slang term meaning to "hurry up" which is what I had to do on brew day as I also bottled Flowers the same day. I also used some curry spices known as Garam Masala late in the boil which should add an interesting complexity. Dash the Curry is another extract brew with grains; five pounds of pilsner malt extract, one pound of wheat, a half pound of cane sugar and a quarter pound of Carafa I from Weyermann maltings in Germany. I single-hopped the brew with Styrian Goldings and added an ounce of coriander along with the curry spices in the last five minutes of the boil. I had intended to repitch the Wyeast 3724 to get more saison-like beer, but I ended up pitching a rehydrated packet of Safbrew T-58. I thought the temperature of my kitchen would be moderate enough for this strain (mid- to high-70s) but it ended getting up into the 80s, so the yeast seems to have thrown a massive amount of esters. My plan is to let the beer condition at room temperature for 7-10 days and then move as much of it into the fridge in the hopes of lagering out some of the harsher esters.